Once a contact centre employee with a playlist full of hip-hop, a dreamer residing in Merseyside near Liverpool is now fielding interview requests from media in multiple countries.
"I'm a 30-year-old white guy from the northwest of England. You're 30, you're white and you're from Oldham; automatically, that kinda makes you uncool if you're a rapper," said musician UK-Craigie at the time of interview, before the media requests came pouring in to contradict him.
UK-Craigie's debut album, entitled "I Can't Sleep", is a reel of the thoughts one experiences in the space between consciousness and the dream state.
"This doesn't have to be a comedy or a tragedy, it's me / It's my life; it's my rules," he says in "We're Supposed to Live", as he ponders the state of the government and thinks of those struggling to have a home.
A consistent theme runs throughout the album, rapping ruminations questioning the ability to be a good father and husband, to pay the bills, to have a happy life in the career of one's choice and be missed after death.
His love for his children is a common subject matter, particularly in the beautifully lyricised "Only Now": "When the curtains close and it's all over, remember me as a good man, a great father / Who tried his best to inspire and teach / Tried to share my philosophy without trying to preach."
In "Funeral", UK-Craigie reveals his name: "Here lies Craig Anderson / He was a good brother / A great father / A good son / Somebody console his mother."
And "to nobody's surprise, my dad didn't make it on time," raps Anderson, who grew up without a father figure.
He said he freestyled "Anxious", with none of the words having been written down beforehand.
The album covers fatherhood, counting one's blessings, thinking back on the past and planning for the future.
"When I pick up a pen, I want people to think holy crap, this guy gets it, this guy understands what I'm going through and he's lived it," he said.
Anderson succeeds. The album perfectly portrays the stream of details sprinting through one's mind before falling asleep.
In the week following the 20th September drop of "I Can't Sleep", Anderson had already experienced an influx of international streaming.
Now, two months after the drop, he has been contacted by press in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia.
It's a fitting response for an album that is international on its own, with a sparkling acoustic backdrop by the UK's Wolfpak, the US' Ryini and Canada's Paul Patience, respectfully.
Anderson and Los Angeles-based Ryini connected through email to share acoustic instrumentals.
"His acoustic is phenomenal. Without it, it wouldn't hit the same," Anderson said.
"My plan was to get more artists from Japan, maybe Germany because I love the vibe that you get so that's something that I'm keen to do for the next project," he added.
Anderson had nearly finished the album before the Coronavirus pandemic sent the United Kingdom into lockdown mode.
Although he says he spent lockdown "probably drinking too many beers and [playing] too many videogames," he did manage to finish the album and send it off to the streaming world.
After studying music performance for two years, Anderson had the choice of furthering his education or becoming an independent artist.
He chose music.
"Ten years ago when I was 20, I just had this mad idea to pick up a microphone, to pick up a laptop and to create some music so that's what I did," Anderson said.
The father of two daughters, Anderson likes to involve his children in his music. His adorable eight-year-old daughter features in track 11, "Underdogs Assemble", in addition to helping shoot his music videos.
While his daughters could be considered his biggest inspirations, Anderson also named Alanis Morissette, Imogen Heap, Kate Bush, Jay-Z and Lana del Rey.
But it was Kanye West who first made Anderson realise he could have his own hip-hop dreams.
"Everyone was wearing seven chains, baggy jeans. Kanye came in and he was the polar opposite. Kanye West was just this random bloke from Chicago; he was not afraid to be himself. That was what struck me; everybody has a story and everybody can tell a story, no matter who you are or where you're from," Anderson said.
He now works to help children realise their passions for music, in addition to writing theme songs for wrestlers.
He is also a football fan - Arsenal Football Club, to be specific.
"When I was growing up, everybody was a fan of their biggest rivals so it kind of made it a little bit more fun to support the team that they hated. When I came in with an Arsenal T-shirt, they'd be fuming; to take that kind of attitude, it's been my whole life. To apply that musically, to be able to do your own thing, not care if people are gonna judge you; it's liberating," Anderson said.
Anderson manages the media and website design for his local football club, which he said is great for his music.
"Everyone dreams about playing a sport when they're growing up. When you get the opportunity to do something this creative and it's in a completely different world, no writer's block; it adds another aspect to your life," he said.
He encouraged the world's dreamers to not let anything step in their path on the way to seizing their future.
"Keep going; crack at it. If your dream is being a musician or collecting a million stamps before you're 25, keep going. Once you're on this journey of fulfillment, spread it - spread the love. There's so much negativity in the world, being a force of good is very underrated.
People don't necessarily like it when other people are dreaming - when people live fearlessly. Don't listen to them. Have fun, do your thing. Maybe it will lead to incredible riches and all these fantastic things; maybe it won't, but I guarantee that if you put in the work and have fun, it will be one of the best experiences of your life."
Look for UK-Craigie's album "I Can't Sleep" on Spotify, iTunes and Tidal. Tweet, Instagram, or Facebook UK-Craigie when you've listened. He requests that his audience keeps in touch.
Special thanks to Craig Anderson for the interview and the patience in the time it took to post this article!
[You can find more of my vinyl music reviews at Dreaming Human.]
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