Craig David was Drake before Drake was Drake

Much has been made of the UK music scene’s influence on Drake. We know he’s a Skepta fan, and he listens to Section Boyz and the occasional Sneakbo freestyles, but there is another key icon in British music that Drake is not associated with enough. Craig David.

Craig David was Drake before Drake was Drake! Now, when I said this in more harsh words on Twitter, I seemed to have upset a few Drake fans who regarded my statement as “nonsense”. In this article I make an attempt to elaborate on this theory further.

Drake is often said to have developed his sounds from Kanye West’s ‘808s and Heartbreaks’ album. Whilst I don’t disagree with this, I do believe one of his other major influence is UK R&B singer Craig David.

“On my Craig David sh*t, the Artful Dodger” Drake raps on 2007’s ‘Closer’ taken off Comeback Season mixtape.

Craig David was a teenage pop prodigy, who was well decorated with critical acclaim, multiple awards wins and grammy award nominations. His debut album ‘Born To Do It’ (released in August 2000) sold an astonishing seven million copies worldwide, including more than a million in the US. His first two singles, ‘Fill Me In’ and ‘Seven Days’, capped a trio of UK No.1’s, following his 1999 smash hit with Artful Dodger, titled ‘Re-Rewind‘.

Getting the obvious comparisons out of the way first, both Drake and Craig David’s parents separated when they were kids and they were both raised by their Jewish mothers. Both artists were born outside of the U.S and have gone on to reach international fame and success.

Aside from Drake being mistaken as Craig David at this year’s Wimbledon Tournament, Drake’s singing style is pretty similar too. Drake is often quoted as a singing rapper or a rapper that sings.  Born To Do It, Craig David is noted for perfecting the sounds of rap song flows. His vocal style was once quoted as “a quick rat-a-tat rap smoothed out on the R&B tip” a very good example of this is the single ‘Fill Me In’ , similar singing cadence can be found throughout Drake’s more R&B focused discography. Singles like the aforementioned ‘Fill Me In’ and ‘7 days’ show David’s impressive song-writing abilities and effortless melodic story-telling lyrics. This can also be seen in Drake’s earlier singles such as ‘Best I ever Had’ and ‘Karaoke’.

On songs such as the Rihanna assisted ‘Take Care’ and The Real Her  There are many moments in these songs if you listen clearly that you could imagine these being the works of Craig David.

In terms of vocal tone, Drake definitely owes Craig David a lot of his style. Where these two differ is the vocal capabilities. “David has a genuinely remarkable vocal style, displaying a luxurious tone and athletic flexibility of a kind rarely heard” declared music critic Neil McCor-mick of London’s Telegraph newspaper, whereas Drake is more studio manufactured.

Overall, the Drake and Craig David influence seems pretty clear. Their similarities go beyond their delicate harmonies and physical attributes. David and Drake have both gone on to set trends in the music industry. Craig David’s musical legacy has often been downplayed, but he helped to break barriers for UK urban artist. David made music true to himself that was British and urban and charted successfully. Drake has shaken off the shackles of bravado and masculinity in music by laying his emotions bare. Drake was initially mocked for being “soft”  but he is now one of the most popular artists in the world.

Words by @ClubTolu

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