It’s amazing how important our mental welfare is, yet how little we discuss it. The moment you cut your finger you draw for a band aid, however a suicidal thought and you brush it off as nothing, letting a mental cut bleed. We all need to talk more about our mind and where our heads are; sometimes it’s good to explore feelings. This key point of talking more about the mind is why I’ve chosen to cover the song Psycho by Dave.
A bit of background first. David Orobosa Omoregie was born 5 June 1998 in Brixton, South London, as the youngest of three brothers. Dave released his debut EP Six Paths in 2016 with the single ‘Thiago Silva’ hitting the charts (you know the one where that kid from Glastonbury sung all the words). After releasing several popular singles and another EP, Game Over, it was time for Dave to release his first album Psychodrama.
The first song on the album, Psycho, starts with a Psychiatrist beginning a session with Dave. “I’m here with David, it’s your first session. We are going to talk about your background and any issues you’ve been dealing with”. My man’s first album and the very first thing you hear is a psychiatrist! A bold move if you ask me for your debut album, immediately attempting to break down stigmatism attached to mental health.
IIs mental health a serious issue? it is, however this might be looking at it the wrong way. Mental health is only a serious issue because we perceive it to be one. There are some incidents of mental health that are serious; in the same way that when someone breaks their leg it’s a serious physical health issues. However talking about our mental health should be no more a conversation piece as one would talk about their own physical health. That’s the point Dave is trying to make; everyone has issues, from the 9-5 stock broker to hip-hop star. In a way we are all equal; we all deal with feelings of self-doubt and worrying thoughts. ‘How do you stop all the pain, huh?’
Psycho isn’t the only track on the album that deals with Dave’s mental health; Purple Heart, Environment and Voices all tackle the issue. This allows conversation about mental health to take place. For me personally this comes from talking to my friends and family about the album and discussing the lyrics, asking they have felt the same way where normally I’d avoid the subject all together. I know that ‘How do you stop all the pain?’ resonated with me, I often find myself in the darker corners of my mind, hurting internally, wondering how do I make this stop.
I believe because he wants to make a difference. Just because Dave is a hip-hop guy it doesn’t always need to be guns and glamour. ‘Brother I’m a careful, humble, reckless, arrogant, extravagant” I feel we would all be lying if we didn’t say we had the same train of thought sometimes. ‘Man, I think I’m going mad again. It’s like I’m happy for a second, then I’m sad again.’ I know I’ve certainly had moments where I thought the stress of everything was overwhelming me, why does everyone else seem to be handling it okay? Listening to music like this is a great way at helping normalize these thoughts and feelings.
A few more hits of the kick drums and snaps of the snare, ‘Penance in my blood and I don’t wanna be vain, but if I’m a psycho then I don’t wanna be sane.’ I think Dave is trying to say here is maybe a ‘Pscycho’ approach to things got him where he is today. A killer mentality to push through pain is, what at times, can separate us from our peers, a desire to do more in search of glory. I feel like my ‘psycho’ attitude towards things can work in my favour. A little bit of vanity can help us. It gives us a chance to appreciate what we are and what we have achieved. Aren’t our achievements our greatest vanity? Sometimes this vanity can help us but it can also hinder us. When does vanity become too much though? Often the idea of a tough guy persona is appealing, it complements our vanity. Something I’ve learnt, and it’s reinforced by hearing this song, is you can still be a tough guy and talk about your feelings.
“There’s so many old scars that they wanna reveal, we got off on the wrong foot ‘cause I don’t want them to heal”. I know that I’ve felt this way; things have happened in my life. I’m alive I’m surviving what doesn’t kills me makes me tougher right? Dave talks about his rough background, it’s more of a frustrated pouring of the soul rather than the bragging rights that used to be typical in rap; “Blame my environment, it made me a sicko… man, there’s weapons over here, we’re reppin’ over here”. A more common element in Hip Hop, talking about the guns in the neighbourhood yet in this song it takes a different tone; “that’s how we put food in the fridge.” In the second part of the song there is a melody change and the drum beat differs. The song takes on more of a glitzy feel; “Someone tryna live his best life… I’m top boy and I ain’t givin man a turn… I’m a hit maker if you haven’t noticed” Sometimes even if you’re living your ‘best life’ and your ‘top boy’ there could still be a lot of pain.
I’ve been in that very same frame of mind where I slowly go from good to bad. A sudden burst from happy to sad that is then followed by a slowly creeping self-doubt or pain that clouds my thoughts, leading me down into a darker path. In hearing this song I know it felt as though a weight was lifted off my chest, I’m not the only one with problems, I’m not the only person who could have ‘deeper scars’.
What I think Dave is trying to achieve with the song ‘Psycho’ is the removal of a stigmatism associated with mental health. For years it’s been a very taboo subject and people would just assume if you had some mental health issue then you were ‘crazy’. Now some might argue that Dave is crazy for pursuing a career in the music business! However he is using his platform to break down pre-recognised misconceptions of mental health. Dave is saying that it is okay to talk about our mental health the same way we talk about our physical health. It’s okay to go to a therapist the same way we would go see a personal trainer. The only way we can solve our issues, especially mental health issues, is by talking about them maybe that’s the band aid we need? During 2018 the biggest killer of men over 30 was suicide. There are a lot of men out there with a lot of pain who don’t want to talk about their issues.
To finish off, here are the song’s final lyrics:
“Suicide doesn't stop the pain, you're only moving it
Lives that you're ruining
Thoughts of a world without you in it, hiding
I ain’t psycho, but my life is”
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[This photoshoot originally appeared in Crack Magazine issue 79]