The rise of Dave: From unknown teenage rapper to Mercury Prize winner

The 21-year-old has been honoured for his critically acclaimed debut album.

South London rapper Dave has enjoyed a meteoric rise from promising but largely unknown prospect on the UK hip hop scene to winning one of the most prestigious prizes in British music.

Since earning an early career boost from Canadian superstar Drake, the 21-year-old has established himself as one of the UK’s most exciting musicians, with a chart-topping debut album and viral Glastonbury performance under his belt.

Born in the capital to Nigerian parents, Dave – whose full name is David Orobosa Omoregie – is the youngest of three brothers.

His two older siblings have served time in prison, which Dave alludes to in his music.

He began rapping at the age of 13 and spent up to five hours a night playing the piano.

Dave first made headlines when Canadian superstar Drake remixed his 2016 single Wanna Know and added his own verse.

Hyundai Mercury Prize 2019 – London
Dave hugs his mother after winning the Mercury Prize (Ian West/PA)

The song was the then-teenage Dave’s first entry on the UK singles chart. As the buzz around him began to grow, he followed up on Wanna Know with the 2017 EP Game Over.

Game Over’s success further fuelled the excitement around Dave and by now fans were clamouring for a full album.

In May 2018, his politically charged track Question Time won best contemporary song at the Ivor Novello Awards.

In October his track Funky Friday, featuring British rapper Fredo, reached number one in the UK singles charts, setting expectations even higher.

Psychodrama, Dave’s highly anticipated maiden album, arrived in March.

Hyundai Mercury Prize 2019 – London
Dave, who called his mother to the stage after winning, is one of the UK’s most exciting musical prospects (Ian West/PA)

Supported by the singles Black, Streatham, Location and Disaster, the ambitious concept album follows the narrative of a therapy session and explores Dave’s older brothers’ criminal convictions and themes of mental health and growing up as a working class black man.

It did not disappoint, heading straight to number one while being praised by critics.

And Psychodrama has now won Dave the 2019 Mercury Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in British music.

It comes after his performance at Glastonbury’s Other Stage in June went viral after he plucked a fan from the crowd to rap along to his hit Thiago Silva, named after a Brazilian footballer.

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