Murkage Dave Changed My Life
Evan Dale // Oct 24, 2018
The last time a UK artist of such indefinably left-of-center sonics showed up to redefine British hip-hop history to this extent, Mike Skinner & The Streets were dropping emotional poetics under a thick Birmingham accent. Something like a decade-and-a-half since their infamous A Grand Don’t Come For Free, a new artist and longtime friend of the old has stepped into the void with a debut album so irregularly shaped and off-color that it’s difficult to find any words with which to label it at all. He goes by Murkage Dave and is by no measurement new on the scene. The founder and namesake of Manchester’s Murkage Cartel, Dave has been an influential artist, co-founder of Tonga with Mike Skinner, and organizer of British grime, garage, and hip-hop events for years.
But now, it’s officially his turn in the limelight.
The confidently titled, Murkage Dave Changed My Life is the kind of project that cannot even be followed up by such an egregious lead-in. There is no kind-of category in which to place it. It’s purely his own merging creation of the eras of British music he has known and molded – a culminative thesis on the last couple decades of UK influence on future sounds.
Storming the project with a confident delivery that slides somewhere between the kind cadence of post-garage and the approachability of modern bubble rap, Murkage Dave finds his firmest strength in what is said even more than how he says it. There is no doubt that his lyricism, molded by eras of profound and poignant British songwriters, is his truest trait. With the gifted poetics of Mike Skinner, Murkage Dave Changed My Life is, from top to bottom, the work of a lyricist in his most poetic form. Though a downtrodden energy delineates most of the project, it’s backed up by messages of strength and positivity the likes of which are welcome under the grey skies of Leytonstone.
The bouncy keys and slap drum kit of See Man Smile invite positivity even despite the track’s darker thematics. Need Each Other is a track that’s focus revolves around the importance of friendship. Put You on My Shoulders is another message of loyalty and love, even where love itself has failed. Throughout Murkage Dave Saved My Life, its narrator plays an important role in maintaining realism and positivity in balance – an important trait to maintain the honesty and trustworthiness of Dave’s demeanor.
If Murkage Dave Changed My Life is a statement, then brash and accepting melancholy is its bottom line, defining Dave’s own musical storybook and redefining all of ours. Its auditory aesthetic is so original and honest that it likely won’t be attempted again until Dave, like Mike Skinner is now, makes a return to the limelight more than a decade from today. But in the meantime, Murkage Dave Changed My Life will instead be templated as an influential cornerstone in the complexly lyrical history of British music, and its balance between the positivity and realism of the UK tradition.