Photo by Ruta Smith Black Dave incorporated beat-making into his everday routine to produce a track a day

Long Year

Producer, DJ, rapper and photographer Dave Curry, who goes by Black Dave, has always been a jack of all trades. But throughout 2020, Curry doubled down on songwriting, putting out an EP every month and producing a beat a day for the entire year.

Yup, that’s 12 EPs and 365 beats in a single year, and that’s in between his work on South Carolina collaborative project Amethyst. What did you do in 2020? According to Curry, this project started as a plan to make one beat a day, but quickly developed into something else after he put out his first EP of the year, EP 000001.

“When 2020 started, I had already decided I was going to make beats every day, and I had already decided I was going to rap more,” he said. “January rolls around, and I’m like, ‘I’m just going to do an EP.’ ”
After the first release, Curry dropped another EP in February, deciding to commit to an album a month for the rest of the year. “The first month, I was just making songs,” he clarified. “I didn’t have any goals, I was just making a couple of songs and trying to figure out what I wanted to sound like.”

Anime was such a big influence on Dave’s 365 beats project that he incorporated anime and manga images into the albums’ cover art

His catalogue of EPs from 2020 is available on Spotify and Bandcamp. When listening to them in succession, fans can chart Curry’s development as a songwriter and the broad influences he pulls from: trap music, hardcore, anime and video games. At the beginning, the collection is pretty standard rap tunes — granted, most rappers aren’t spitting about riding the airship to the next boss battle with Sephiroth. But along the way, Curry starts branching out into his other musical passions, adding strings and orchestral flavors to the songs.

Really, calling the collection rap music is only telling one side of the story, as he steps into plenty of other realms. “Waiting so Long,” from EP 000006, is somewhere along the lines of post-rock or synth-punk. “Affirmations,” the first track from EP 000008, is a repeated spoken refrain laid over spacey keyboard textures, almost reminiscent of ’60s avant-garde songs.

“I added guitars halfway through the year, I started screaming on songs, I was really trying to embody all of the things that I felt like I had come up doing,” he said.

By the end of the project, EP 000012, Curry’s bringing all the parts together, referencing Vash the Stampede and Pokemon on peaceful backdrops in one track, yelling his way through the next and wrapping it up with one last rap.

“It’s like trap music, hardcore music, anime, video games and orchestral music; I’m super influenced by film scores,” he said.
When asked how the pandemic affected the project, Curry said it helped the writing process, but halted his plans to perform as an artist more. “For me, it wasn’t a damper on the music itself,” he said. “I think it made it better. I think I was able to spend a bit more time discovering things.”

After a year of music, and far more beats than most producers put out in a year, Curry’s not going to take it easy in 2021. He told the City Paper he hopes to produce more for other artists, release more formal albums and work with his collective Worst Generation. In addition, he’s taking his new confidence from the project into the new year.
“I think there was a point where I was like, ‘I don’t like my rap voice, I don’t like the beats I make, I don’t like anything,’ ” he said. “But between making beats every day and making three songs every month, I’m like, ‘I make good music. You guys can’t count me out now.’ ”