GQ [UK] (May 2015)

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This year, one clear voice cut through in British rap. And at age 21, this is only the beginning I could feel myself changing, as I started ageing, my mind started fading, and my back started aching.

Year eleven fought depression popping pills inside my lessons. The year-old South London -born rapper rescued the dog over a year ago. The two-storey studio space with a green Astroturf courtyard and beige metal garden furniture is where Dave came almost every day for a year between January and February to record his debut album, Psychodrama , which has been hailed as one of the most significant and accomplished hip hop albums — never mind debuts — of recent times.

Fraser, Dave, even Bane: they can all be proud. Psychodrama is without doubt a masterpiece, the album of by quite some distance. Dave calls it a concept album and the title is taken from a form of therapy used in prisons that sees offenders role-play events from their past in order to help with rehabilitation.

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This is our first session. Unlike other rap artists, Dave is also fearless about pointing out the failings of his own community and his own industry. Is that how you say it? I notice the silver caps he usually wears on his canine teeth — grills that make his wide grin seem even more wolfish — are absent. I had assumed Dave was in the studio doing something specific. I might have a particular line or lyric I want to build everything around or an idea I want to work towards. Trying to make my words not sound weird when I say them out loud is a priority. As an interviewee, Dave takes a while to warm up; before the meeting several acquaintances talk of a reserved, polite young man who keeps himself to himself.

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Dave, by comparison, runs on a darker, quieter energy. It allowed me to fulfil my potential, changing the way people see me and the way I see myself.

It was the album that I needed it to be, the album that was expected of me. Still a child when I turned man of the house. Tell me what you know about a bag full of bills. And then staring in the mirror for an hour. A very bland eleven-year-old, playing computer games. I was just there, existing. What was he reading?

I never understood why. It was always there. None of us knew we had any sort of talent. Rap stars, artists, whatever you want to call them, were like aliens. Unimaginable really.

It was and Dave was eleven when he wrote his first bar. I remember feeling pretty confident about it. I was just passing the time really. There was never any strategy or goal.

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I retired. Suddenly I had a reason to be there, or at least at my music lessons; it just took hold of me. Kyle is credited on Psychodrama as a producer, helping out on keys and composition on certain tracks. Eventually, Dave attained piano grade seven, the second highest given.

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I wanted to put my own twist on things, make my songs and my melodies. After three years of learning piano, pretty much self-taught, I started improvising. It was just a really random thing I picked up. The eldest, Ben, came out in after serving four years, but Chris, five years older than Dave, received a minimum life sentence of 18 years. Although Dave prefers to let his music fill in the blanks around this subject, rightly worried about media misrepresentation, the influence these events have had on him and his work is deeply significant. After his brothers went to jail his mother became, unsurprisingly, overprotective of her youngest.

In agreement with her other sons she banned Dave from going out after school.


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This meant less time on the streets, in the crosshairs of trouble, and more time at the piano and more time honing his lyrics and flow. Of course, it also meant more time in his room alone — at an important juncture of development — staring at the constellation of his own thoughts and concerns. Yet, as his mind went inwards, he found it helped to channel those emotions outwards and into his music. For over 60 years, GQ has been the home to the most elevated and respected photography, design, reporting and writing in the men's space. Today, GQ is also a digital, social, video and experience powerhouse—a community where readers gather to be inspired and exchange ideas around style, creativity and culture.

As masculinity evolves and men's fashion has moved to the center of the global pop-culture conversation, GQ's authority has never been broader or stronger. For more information, please contact mediakitgq condenast. Welch joined GQ in May as an associate editor covering fashion, pop culture and music.

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He was promoted to senior editor in , style editor in , and creative director earlier this year. Welch graduated from Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife. Plagemann previously served as chief revenue officer and publisher of Vogue since January and her outstanding track record in building media brands has been pivotal to the development of Vogue.

From to , Plagemann was vice president and publisher of Marie Claire, where she helped to re-establish the brand. She held the same role at Lifetime magazine from to and was publisher of Cosmopolitan from to She was the advertising manager of Esquire in and was subsequently named associate publisher, advertising.