- Words Josh Clubbe
Dave’s incredible BRITs performance still sends shivers down the spine. Spotify’s new music analysis podcast, Decode, brilliantly explores that moment as part of its deeper exploration of Dave's 'Psychodrama' album.
Some things are bigger than music. Whether that’s the music itself, or the deeper meaning and contextual value that is held within the creative process to get the point of delivery. Like you, I’m a fan of music and seek to explore all avenues to quench that thirst for knowledge about the people I’m aligning my allegiance with. One way we can do this is through longer form media – in particular, podcasts. There’s nothing better than hearing the person you whack on when cooking, talking about the music you love, which is why interviews are great – but what about those people not involved in the music? Hearing an outsider’s view on music is why reactors have seen a meteoric rise in popularity within the digital space – the view from the everyday person that all can relate to.
It was 2019 that I discovered ‘Dissect’, the Spotify Original podcast that is full to the brim of musical jargon, tailored to those willing to learn just as much music theory as context and lyrical breakdown. Having been pointed in the direction of it by a colleague, once we got on to the fact that I was a big Tyler, The Creator fan and his Flower Boy album was a series, I was hooked. The only thing missing was the fact that (at this time) there was no English music explored when the scene in the United Kingdom was really starting to bustle more than ever. Problem solved. Spotify have since rolled out their UK iteration with ‘Decode’, presented by award-winning poet and academic Kayo Chingonyi. For the first series, there was nobody better to dissect than Dave – with Kayo delving into his debut album ‘Psychodrama’, pulling out the microscope to break it down line by line, beat by beat, deconstructing the ingredients which make it a masterpiece.
Coinciding with the one-year anniversary of Dave’s breathtaking BRITs performance of “Black” with Fraser T Smith, whom was also the only person to accompany Dave on stage that very night, “Black” is also episode three of Decode. Kayo rewinds back to the night where the world was witness to a musical demonstration of excellence – to become one of the most powerful BRITs performances on record. Decode zooms out further in episode three than the preceding two songs from ‘Psychodrama’, putting the society in which Dave grew up in the spotlight, to provide listeners with that extra layer of depth to their understanding of why “Black” has become such a pivotal and relevant song – in more ways than imaginable. Kayo intricately discusses all of the exclusive lyrics added to the original version of “Black” which made it more powerful than ever could be imagined. The TV broadcast of the show saw the Streatham musician use his platform to call out the UK’s treatment of Windrush Generation, “calling for reparations for descendants of enslaved people”. Not only that, but the updated version saw Dave provide social commentary, courageously highlighting the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Meghan Markle’s treatment by the media and of course, a toxic government with engrained ideologies. It’s important to also highlight the tribute to Jack Merritt, the rehabilitation officer killed in the London Bridge attack. This is why Dave gets the respect he deserves. He’s a leader. He’s a voice. He’s change.
Throughout the analysis, Kayo expertly draws on interviews, and his own knowledge, to depict the honest truth located between the start and finish of the episode. For me, what I found particularly interesting was how much Black was inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s “Blood”.
Kayo delivers on each episode with such sincerity, interest and invested beliefs. I feel this is what really differs from the original ‘Dissect’ podcast. Decode feels a lot more personal, and from a point of view where I’ve analysed lyrics continuously through the years, it’s refreshing to hear that somebody else takes as much interest to understand a record. It’s easy to know a song, the lyrics, but taking the effort to grasp how a song is pointed, to whom it’s for, then also why it was made – this is where somebody’s opinion is elevated. With award-winning poetry in his repertoire, Kayo has the foundations to take it that one step further and really carve a lane for himself within a space of analysis that is yet to find its feet in the UK. You may have watched the BRITs last night, but I recommend you rewind a year and open the third eye whilst listening to Decode – an enlightening journey of music, lyrics, politics and poetry narrated by one of the best.