Craig David Leads Brit Soul Swoop

CRAIG DAVID with SASSA'LE at Kool Haus (1 Jarvis), Saturday (February 9). Sold out. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNNEven.

at Kool Haus (1 Jarvis), Saturday
(February 9). Sold out. 416-870-8000.

Rating: NNNNN

Even for the most casual observer, the similarities between the hiphop and R&B scenes in Canada and the UK should seem obvious.

For years overwhelmed by the sledgehammer culture of America, the only real option for Canadian and UK MCs and R&B singers was to slavishly copy what was going on in scenes like New York and Los Angeles. Now, after years of underground experimentation, Canuck and Brit artists are beginning to offer up their own unique spins on the American sounds.

For Canada, that’s come through rising stars like K-OS, Choclair and Glenn Lewis. In the UK, it’s MCs like Roots Manuva and crooners like Craig David who are busting out.

Like Lewis, David is one of the few foreign R&B singers poised to break big in America. The Southampton smoothie began singing over UK garage breaks on pirate radio before shifting to a more easy-listening, American-influenced R&B groove.

David’s Born To Do It debut falls somewhere between polished retro soul and the squeaky-clean prefab pop tarts the Brits love to create. It’s an interesting mix, but if he really wants to break big in America, or at least sound different from other second-tier crooners, he’s going to need better beats.

The digi-dancehall thump of Rewind is a rare break from the easy-listening swing that dominates Born To Do It. David’s rumoured forthcoming collaborations with DJ Premier, the Roots crew and other progressive beat masters can’t come quick enough.

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