Back in January, R&B singer Dende dropped an EP titled 'Before We Crash'. The EP artwork features a happy couple sitting on top of a Honda Civic. He opens the EP with 'Sensually', which features audio of him flicking through songs from '95 Civic ('Nightmares' and 'Selfish') after a woman who appears to be his wife asks him to turn on the radio.
The visuals can be seen here.
The short performance video for 'Sensually' is of the wedding as Dende expresses his love. The video is mainly shot from the point of view of the bride, allowing you to see how happy Dende is at this point in his story. The two are then seen driving off in a car, just married, as Dende admires his wife.
The next song, 'Flowers' definitely will restore your faith in love as he sings
"I wanna buy you flowers
Take you out for a date next Friday night
Make love with you for hours /Care 'bout all of your dreams, I'll tell you mine"
The short performance video sees him serenading the same woman as she sits on a Honda Civic bursting at the seams with flowers.
'Georgia' is much more lighthearted, still playing into the happiness of a relationship, discussing the fact Dende's lover can definitely rely on him for whatever her heart desires. Deante' Hitchcock's "Pussy bald like Freddie Gibbs" bar can't go without a mention - it keeps the tone of the song playful. Yet again, Dende is driving a Honda Civic in this video.
The short performance video for 'Round Trip To Atlanta' is shot from the perspective of the car's wing mirror - still referencing the concept despite not being directly linked lyrically to the story as it leans more to being infatuated with a stripper, akin to the sentiment of Daniel Caesar's 'Who Hurt You?'
Baby making collaboration from Dende and Erykah Officer makes for a steamy session in the Honda Civic.
The final track from the EP, 'Better Than Him' is where things seem to crumble slightly as he's now reiterating there's another man in the picture who doesn't love her as much as he does. Dende proves he knows her better:
"He don't even know your favorite color, know peach tea your favorite drink
Know you like to watch to the sun set, most your favorite clothes is pink
Know you like to watch the dramas, science-fiction's what you read"
Dende pulls up to her house in the Honda Civic and sings to her as she watches from her window in the short performance video as his friends lay out a picnic and hand him flowers. The attention to detail here is great because of the song 'Flowers' aswell as the reference to singing outside your girl's window when you're trying to get her back.
Fast forward a month later and he dropped 'Nightmares' on Valentine's Day, labelling it an "Anti-Valentine's song". While it wasn't the first song on the album, it certainly took us back to the narrative and teased that the car had in fact crashed. This was confirmed by a black and white Instagram video that continues from the 'Sensually' visual, only this time they get into a car crash.
'Nightmares' is the first song we hear off of this new album with a smooth catchy hook about heartbreak, followed by many more, that reiterates how losing your dream girl can feel like a nightmare.
The next day, the album artwork for '95 Civic is posted and we see a heartbroken Dende in front of the Honda Civic, both him and the car injured by the crash as he clutches flowers that look just like the ones from the 'Better Than Him' short performance video.
'95 Civic opens with the bittersweet 'I Wrote You A Song' - the title comes from him telling this woman just that and it reinforces the narrative by putting us in the perspective of the woman who broke his heart as he pours his out in the lyrics:
"I can't seem to cry, I still feel the pain
When I close my eyes, all I see's your face
You sit in the other room that feel like miles away
Boxes of memories you packin' to take
And I just can't think straight, drink every day of the week"
Windshield wipers count the beat in on 'Swerve' which features Eimaral Sol. The track has multiple mentions of a vehicle, from a double entendre...
"You're drivin' me crazy
Skrr, hope you don't wise up then
"Ninety, blastin' on your dash, my dear
You gave me sloppy in the passenger
One hand is steerin' 'cause the cruise control is on
And other hand on that ass, my dear
See I'd die happy if we crash right here"
Even in Eimaral Sol's verse, she has bars like "Couldn't even make it out the parking lot" and "Reverse the whip, let me ghostride that dick".
In the visual, he's driving the same car to various places at various times, reflecting on the memories he's shared with his then-partner.
At the end of the song, you can hear the car crash.
'Block Me' tackles the feeling of not wanting to see your ex on social media. 'Lost' deals with the loss of a partner and how that can make you feel lost, he uses overlapping vocals to create the feeling of being lost in the song.
'I Can't Believe I Called This Woman At Work' makes the record feel cinematic. The interlude begins with him calling but getting no answer. He leaves a voicemail in the form of a spoken word piece where he references a car again - "Look, love is like a car, and I feel like I'm just now learnin' how to drive it". The break in music on the record sees Dende coming to terms with the reality that the relationship is ending. "Wish You Well" featuring Chris Patrick is Dende wishing his ex the best despite the fact she doesn't wish him the same. Chris Patrick also interpolates Adele's Rolling In The Deep on the track. Ultimatums often come up when relationships prove to be strenuous, and 'Ultimatum' sees Dende setting boundaries, that if she makes him choose, it might not be her that he chooses. The tone of the record has shifted, the heartbreak is wearing off and he's able to recognise how 'Selfish' his ex has been in the next track.
'Part-Time Lover' with Lilly Aviana does seem like it pulls away from the narrative of the record, however a lot of people do encounter friends with benefits as rebounds after heartbreak.
The lyrics on the hook...
"I'm just your part-time lover
Don't need full-time hours, want no time and a half"
...coincide with the lyrics on the outro:
"I'm just your part-time lover, part-time lover
Clock in, clock out, blow your back out"
'Perspective' vulnerably explores the feeling of wanting to be loved.
"And my cup's half empty
Come fill me up
Your cup's half full
Hope I'm enough"
The record concludes with "I Drove By Your House Today" which references the title of the record:
"I drove by your house today
Same '95 Civic in the driveway"
The final track is introspective, elevated by the production that evokes reminiscence.
Dende's recently dropped the visual for Nightmares, which shows a time lapse of him having a mental breakdown over the end of the relationship. He tosses a wedding veil around the room and he can even be seen tied to a chair, watching the visuals for 'Better Than Him' on an old fashioned TV - alluding to being trapped in his memories.
Dende's proved to not only be a remarkable singer and lyricist, but a clever storyteller. There are so many references to the narrative he's pushing throughout the rollout which is catching the eye of many. As a result, he's continuing to grow as an artist - the album has recently hit a million streams. We cannot wait to see what Dende does next and how he brings '95 Civic to life on tour and continues the story in future music videos.
Written by Kat Friar