DAVE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF “HOW I MET MY EX”

Words: Seth Pereira

With the dust finally settled on the release of Dave’s latest EP, Game Over, it feels like the intricate details of that project have gone somewhat unnoticed. Of course, I’m not referring to the numbers here—the EP has been doing great things statistically, and the Game Over tour was a sold-out affair, so there’s no doubt about its popularity. But have we taken the time to acknowledge the actual importance of the songs’ subjects? The whole EP is something that ought to be marvelled at; Dave bravely stepped out and bucked the trend of making bite-size music, with three out of seven tracks over seven minutes long. 

At a time when music is more disposable than ever, it’s easy to see how this is such a bold move from the young South Londoner. For me, personally, the standout song has to be Dave’s display of unashamed honesty on “How I Met My Ex”, which bucks another trend simultaneously: opting to approach the topic with tactful truthfulness, as opposed to the hyperbole which normally surrounds it. This isn’t to say that a healthy dose of hyperbole doesn’t have its place—as any self-respecting rap fan will tell you—but there really is nothing better than hearing a skilled lyricist weave together various elements of their life, creating a self-portrait tapestry threaded together with intricate poetics.

A song like “How I Met My Ex” is a real breath of fresh air. Dave’s sincere unveiling of his emotions and vulnerability is truly something special, especially when he’s expressing suppressed emotions that many young men may have wanted to, but, due to pressures from society and peer groups, felt like they couldn’t. The rapper may galvanise a very healthy train of thought in young people, that being open and vulnerable is perfectly fine and we don’t need to be cold, impenetrable fortresses to be accepted. Dave’s honesty ought to be revered on its own, irrespective of the subject matter. However, given the subject matter, it only further cements the need to champion “How I Met My Ex”.

More often than not, you’re likely to hear fictitious accounts of multiple sexual encounters by self-proclaimed Lotharios; the insidious effects of this might not be immediately apparent, however I can’t deny that as young men, we’d be quick to lie about sexual conquests more readily than most other things. Is this because we’ve learnt, as men, that promiscuity is something to be praised? That if we admit that we don’t actually get “gash by the hour” then this makes us less masculine? If we view the problem through this lens, then it’s clear to see that “How I Met My Ex” is a welcome change; it’s a realistic, human account of the fraught process of dating. If someone like Dave can let down his wall and admit his wrongdoings in a relationship, then maybe this will go some way into chipping away at this false image of masculinity that has become so pervasive.

Critics are very quick to throw music, video games and films under the bus, but if they have such power to cause harm then, surely, the opposite is just as plausible? Self-glorification is an inherent part of this tapestry as artists wish to revel in their rags-to-riches success stories. For the listener, there is no doubt some merit in this—after all, music is a form of escapist entertainment—so truly well-crafted verses can fracture the time space continuum, transporting the listener to an entirely different world. But escapism isn’t always the reason we consume music. For the “prawn sandwich brigade” of the UK music scene, it takes the form of some perverse voyeurism; they want to see how the other side lives, since the lyrics seem “cool” to those so far removed from the harsh realities that inspired them. 

When the sombre, delicate notes of the piano score (composed by Dave himself) come pouring out of your speakers, it’s difficult to not begin to feel a tinge of emotion slowly washing over you—before Dave has even uttered a word. The torrent of emotion which shortly follow his deft strokes of the keys whisk you away into some sort of parallel rap universe, where his candid confessions have brought balance to a musical landscape that’s been laid to waste by stone-hearted MCs afraid to express their inner feelings.

Unbeknownst to Dave, “How I Met My Ex” may have kick-started the difficult process of unlearning unnecessary stoicism in many young men, which couldn’t come at a more crucial moment since men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women. It’s most certainly high time that other rappers followed suit and reminded us that expressing emotions is a sign of strength, rather than a show of weakness.