2022: Dave – Alienation, Isolation, and True Belonging 

At 24 years old, Dave is Reading Festival’s youngest-ever main-stage headliner. Born and raised in South London, 

it hasn’t been a pushover for Dave to get here. He’s worked hard to achieve his status – years of mastering piano, wordplay, and a politically and socially conscious style of rap setting him apart from many others.

And it’s paid off! As he said on Instagram on July 30th 2021: “Second number 1 album. A lot of emotions but this is the work of the people, the best supporters on earth… my family and friends but most importantly God. For this we give God the glory. 74,000 album sales in 1 week and it’s God’s doing. It’s our number 1. History.”

Of course, these moments of celebration are fantastic and well-earned – but life isn’t made up only of highs. As Dave’s music explores, there’s plenty of lows to go around too. Three Rivers, a story of immigration to the UK from three different continents, tells the tragic tale of people expecting a warm welcome, but hearing they don’t belong, they’re not welcome. 

There’s an intensely personal note here too, since Dave’s father was deported to Nigeria a few months after Dave’s birth.

Dave also has something to say if we think feeling alienated is only a problem for the poorest and most vulnerable, those on the margins of society. In Environment, he shows that even with fame and wealth, there can be insecurity. Those we expected to be pleased for us are angry: ‘Where I’m from, everybody wants to make it out / But nobody wants to see somebody make it out.’

Hasn’t Dave ident-ified our problem? In a world of hyper-connection to one another through social media, we’re also further apart from one another. We’ve become adept at hiding our flaws while only showing TikTok highlights. We’re professionals at pointing out others’ defects on Twitter while feeling the anxiety of being potentially unwanted, alienated, isolated.

But Dave’s family’s faith tells a better tale. Christian faith tells a real story of true belonging: Though we haven’t loved the God who made us, or the people he’s placed around us as we should; though we’ve willingly cut ourselves off from him, he hasn’t cut us off.  In love, God’s Son Jesus came into ‘a world that’s flawed and full of evil’ (Three Rivers) – lived, died, and rose again to bring us from isolation to true belonging. To a certain place in his family.

As Dave says in Three Rivers, ‘Imagine an island where the party never ends / Where it’s less about money and more about friends’. According to Jesus, that will be reality – when he returns, and there’s no more sadness, suffering, or sin. No alienation or isolation. Just God and his people, having joy in one another forever. Imagine that kind of place.

And according to God, we should see glimpses of that wonderful, welcoming society even now – particularly in churches, which are full of people called to ‘welcome one another just as Christ welcomed you’ (Romans 15, The Bible). We love to welcome people from everywhere, with every kind of background, to get to know the God who forgives and fully includes all who come to Jesus. 

Won’t you explore more about Jesus and his good news? Find a church near you!