Great Britain

How untypical rapper Dave rose above the tough hand life dealt him and went on to become a four-time Brit nominee

HAVING been torn from his father’s arms when he was a baby before seeing his two brothers jailed, rapper Dave has risen far above the tough hand life dealt him.

And when he performs at tomorrow’s Brit Awards in front of a live TV ­audience of five million, no one will be prouder than his mum Doris.

The 56-year-old nurse from Streatham, South London, worked double shifts to support her son, who is nominated for four awards — best Male Solo Artist, Album Of The Year, Best New Artist and Song Of The Year.

She made sure Dave — real name David Omoregie — did not go down the same path that led to around nine of his pals serving prison terms.

Doris insisted he studied after school at their small terraced house instead of going out on the streets.

Now 21, clean-cut Dave is unlike your stereotypical rapper. He does not have tattoos, sports no bling and chose a sensible jumper to wear when he collected his Mercury Music Prize last year for No1 album Psychodrama.

With his Brits nods, the grime star is likely to pick up at least one more award tomorrow night at London’s O2 Arena.

But his father Frank won’t be there to share in the moment of ­triumph as he is more than 4,000 miles away.

The clergyman, who had volunteered at a church in London’s financial centre, was deported to Nigeria for visa issues in 1998, when Dave was four months old.

Frank feared for his life in his homeland because his own dad had been murdered by a religious cult. More than 200 City executives and a 1,000 others had petitioned to save him.

But his appeal for asylum was turned down by Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw — and Frank was holding baby Dave when the police came to take him away.

The separation would have a devastating impact on Dave and his family.

As he raps on Psychodrama, “I ain’t got a memory of when dad was around” and “I used to cry about my dad until my f***ing eyes burnt”.

Faced with a tough decision Doris decided to stay in Britain because it was where all three of her sons had been born.

Even though he was the youngest, Dave became the man of the house after his siblings were jailed.

Brother Christopher, now 26, was give a minimum of 18 years life ­sentence in 2013 for the brutal ­murder of 15-year-old Sofyen Belamouadden, who was punched and stabbed by a gang of 20 teens in front of commuters at Victoria station in London.

Eldest brother Benjamin, 29, was jailed for fraud in 2017.

Growing up, Dave often had to look after ­himself because his mum would work shifts from 5am until late at night to support the family. He said: “It was tough for her and for me.”

When he was 16, Dave went to sixth form ­college in Richmond upon Thames, in South West London, to study ­philosophy, ethics, law and sound design.

He starting releasing some of his music on YouTube and soon found his rapping attracting hundreds of thousands of views.

That success led to disappointment for his mum — because Dave ditched plans to study law at uni in favour of music.

He recalled: “When it gets to that time to tell your mum that you’re not going to university, which has been her grand plan for you for the last 18 years, all of a sudden 700,000 YouTube views mean absolutely nothing.”

His track Thiago Silva, about the Brazilian footballer of the same name, went viral when Dave invited a young fan called Alex Mann to rap it on stage with him at last year’s ­Glastonbury festival.

Alex gave a word-perfect delivery of the complicated lines, delighting both Dave and the crowd.

While that track and his No1 single Funky Friday are fun, what sets Dave out from the crowd is the deep, socially aware edge to his lyrics.

Before he had even released his debut album he picked up the Ivor Novello award for Best Contemporary Song in 2018 for the track Question Time, which delved into issues such as Syria and the Grenfell fire.

Tracks which tackle mental health issues and domestic abuse appear on on Psychodrama, which was released in March last year.

Its title comes from a form of therapeutic body movement encouraged by counsellors to help ­sufferers express traumas.

Dave has often spoken about prison reform and revealed a personal connection to London Bridge terror attack victim Jack Merritt, who tried to rehabilitate offenders through a programme run by Cambridge University.

Jack, 25, was murdered last year by recently released jihadi Usman Khan.

Dave, whose brother Benjamin has now been released and found a job, tweeted: “Rest in peace brother. One of the most painful things.

“Jack Merritt was the best guy. Dedicated his life to helping others, was genuinely an honour to have met someone like you and everything you’ve done for us I’ll never ever forget.”

Dave was criticised for calling his killer brother Christopher his “hero” and saluting him when he picked up his Mercury Music Prize.

The victim’s mother, Naina Ghailan, said it was “disgusting” that Dave’s album had won because Christopher’s voice features on the record in the form of a phone ­conversation between the two brothers.

Guess year of big row

IT’S the Brits’ 40th birthday – and it has produced plenty of raucous moments over the years.

Ben Griffiths looks back at some of the most memorable incidents.

See if you can work out the year for each. The answers are below . . .

  1. As Michael Jackson performs, Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker moons him.
  2. Chumbawamba guitarist Danbert Nobacon tips an ice bucket full of water over Labour’s deputy PM John Prescott.
  3. Bill Drummond of the KLF fires blanks from a machine gun at the crowd and delivers a dead sheep to the after-party.
  4. Madonna falls backwards after a dancer pulls on her cape.
  5. Host Russell Brand says: “It’s time to find out who has pierced the hymen of awareness to ejaculate success into the uterus of popular culture.”
  6. Liam Gallagher gives a foul-mouthed acceptance speech then throws his mic into the crowd. Peter Kay says: “What a nobhead.”
  7. Ant & Dec try their best not to be distracted by model Sadie Pinn, who is wearing a see-through catsuit.
  8. Prince arrives with a burly minder who follows him everywhere – including on to the stage.
  9. DJ Brandon Block, who looks drunk, jumps on stage as Ronnie Wood tries to announce the winner of an award and is dragged away by security.
  10. A refreshed Vic Reeves comes on to present an award and Sharon Osbourne rages at him: “You’re p***ed. P*** off, you b******!”

But Dave argued crimes should be forgiven, saying: “We’re all just humans at the end of the day. Where wrong is done, wrong needs to be punished, but there’s a lot of things that I see.

"Prison hosts a lot of normal people, a lot of family men who were caught in a tight situation or in a dark place. I don’t think that one moment in people’s life should define them.”

Psychodrama went gold and spawned three top ten singles — ­Disaster, Streatham and Location.

The rapper is now branching out into acting. He plays ex-con Modie in the most recent series of British crime drama Top Boy, which is streaming on Netflix.

A lot of big names are fans, with superstar Drake offering support to his career.

The Canadian remixed Dave’s track Wanna Know for his own radio show — and Dave joined Drake on stage at the O2 in 2017.

UK grime king Stormzy, clothes designer Ozwald Boateng and England footballer Raheem Sterling appeared in the video for his single Black.

Stormzy will be up against Dave for Album Of The Year at the Brits, along with Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi and Michael Kiwanuka.

When it was announced he had been nominated for four Brits, ecstatic Dave tweeted: “No way!!! What an honour, and what a way to end the most incredible year. I’m very grateful.”

If he does win, you can be sure mum Doris will be just as pleased.

Her joyous celebration as she hugged Dave on stage when he picked up the Mercury Prize showed how much his achievement means to the Omoregie family.


Answers

  1. 1996
  2. 1998
  3. 1992
  4. 2015
  5. 2007
  6. 2010
  7. 2016
  8. 1985
  9. 200
  10. 2008
Rapper Dave gets superfan in Glastonbury crowd Alex Mann to join him on stage to sing track Thiago Silva

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