Guest article by Professor Montgommery Sloan Barnicoat-Fucknozzle III Phd. MA. OBE – esteemed fellow of the arts at London South Bank University. This is the 37th chapter of 145 from his world-renowned thesis.
Craig David, arguably the driving force behind the UK neo-disco movement of the latter twentieth century, left behind a body of work that many well-known academics have assessed and written quite furiously about.
The spectacle of David’s work on a purely aesthetic level is never less than compelling, with soulful vocal melodies underpinned by a raw, tribal percussion that evokes memories of a mid-career Grandmaster Flash. His sexually-charged canticles of urban adolescent ambition resonate, and resonate hard; even my most gifted students, as well as fellow academics, remember exactly where they were the first time they heard ‘7 Days‘.
What makes David’s art such a rich tapestry for intellectual inspection are the generous subtexts that accompany much of his more abstract work. He presents us with an ambiguous picture of sexuality, literally depicting himself in photographs as something that screams ‘male’, yet at the same time utilizing a pleasant falsetto vocal that is anything but masculine.
Arguably David’s most discussed and dissected recording is 2000′s debut ‘Born To Do It‘, whose very title encourages the listener to think subtly about sex right from even before their gramophone’s stylus makes contact with the record itself.
Opening lead single ‘Fill Me In‘ is structured around a garbled, chaotic narrative recounting an experience David appears to have had with an unfaithful girlfriend in which he challenges her fidelity. The chorus is beseiged by a request from David to an unknown individual to ‘fill him in’, thus dividing critical thought as to whether he is simply looking for an answer, or longing subconsciously to take part in the physical act of love with a willing male counterpart.
Gender and sexuality permeate all of David’s work relentlessly, encouraging the listener to question what the singer’s real feelings are towards women. In David’s world, women are merely playthings, objects whose use is purely for sexual gratification. These misogynistic leanings stem from the mind of someone who does not understand women, really has little interest in them and arguably fears them.
Though much of David’s commercial success is built on intense pressure from fans and peers to be seen as something of a ‘ladies man‘, there is a deep-rooted sexual conflict here which manifests itself beneath the surface of his compositions. Single ’7 Days’ presents an almost dystopian view of femininity whereby a female will give up her mating resources within 48 hours of meeting a suitor, with virtually no challenge. She does not appear to be in paid employment and is undoubtedly not attending a recommended academic institute; the justification for her whole existence is merely to satisfy men sexually after bintercourse. This is not a song written by someone with a respect of, or admiration for, feminist issues or gender equality.
Evidence of a lengthy battle between heart and mind is apparent in the heart-warming ‘Bootyman‘, melodically a pastiche of a song from children’s psychological horror film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. This innocent facade juxtaposes heavily with David’s apparent thoughts of anal sex, and thus traces it back to the time in David’s childhood or very early adolescence where he first began to view male friends as more than simply academic counterparts. Floor-fillers they may be, however David’s material is fraught with the guilt and needless shame of a strapping young man wrestling with a sexual identity crisis.
On a later single, David appears to reach some sort of catharsis. ‘Walking Away‘ defiantly casts aside the vehement heterosexuality forced upon him by society and demotes women and sexual relationships with females to mere trifling matters that can be escaped quite easily. Finally, the words of a truly proud homosexual, spoken from a prime male specimen.
This article has been re-printed with kind permission from the Southbank University coffee shop toilet attendant.