It felt like a long time coming: the debut album is here. Murkage Dave is the East London artist who made his mark on the music scene by promoting other musicians for years in Manchester at his night ‘Murkage’. Now here to tell his side of the story, his genre-blending music follows his own path including features from Jaykae, Manga Saint Hilare with production from Skepta, Hologram Lo and Star Slinger.

For the past few years, Murkage Dave has released and featured on the odd track, whether with Mike Skinner for their Tonga Balloon Gang project, half of ‘Halfbrother’ with vocalist Scally or teaming up with French rapper Nekfeu. He’s always stayed busy; but not satisfied to be shut in any one box and never settling for long. The release of Murkage Dave Changed My Life has, indeed, changed this, firmly setting his place at the table as the peoples champion through his harsh and relatable honesty.

The opening track ‘King of The First World Problems’ sets the melancholy tone for the rest of the album. In 2018, is there a more fitting way to start an album or describe a relationship than the line “all she sent me was a meme”?

Murkage Dave has worked with Mike Skinner from The Streets for some time now, and it’s evident the impact of this on his writing style. Similarly to Mike, his lyrics focus on the little things in life, which for him really make up the big things. Other influences are felt on the track ‘Keep Up the Bad Work’. The guitar strings have that feeling of an early Craig David album and a percussion that resembles The Neptunes' famous work on Clipse's ‘Grindin’.

The relative hit track from the album, where its melancholy soul comes through most, is ‘You Only Ring Me When I’m Busy’. Murkage lays it all on the table. Here, his personal weaknesses become his greatest musical strength. His expressive writing in his lyrics “I asked you to leave me alone, now I’m lonely” and “I want people to rate me, maybe I don’t rate myself” let his feelings run true, and will hit close to home. Murkage has his own distinct open style, and the insecurities around this have always been there if you’re listening for them. On the track Car Bomb, he says “I feel like I’ve had enough, Am I rapping like I’m black enough?”. Standing out from the crowd doesn’t come easily/comes at a price.

Features come from Manga Saint Hilare and Jaykae. Manga is a fitting feature for this album being one of the only other artists who expresses his feelings so openly in this area of the music scene. The Jaykae feature brings a higher energy to the album, something that was otherwise lacking at times. That’s not to take any credit away from Murkage Dave; social media thinks that this will be nominated for a Mercury prize, and I agree.

(Writer's note: Another shout out should go to Johanna Burai, who created the bleary Dali-esque artwork for the album cover and lead-singles.)