Welcome back to TGJ Replay!
Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ features, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest reflective segment to act as a written quest to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday. Unlike its TGJ retrospective predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits.
In 1999 no one would’ve suspected one of the best-selling British R&B albums of all time would come courtesy of a garage act by the name of Craig David. But, as late 2000 would demonstrate, that forethought was every flavor of wrong.
First paving the road to stardom with his inclusion on UK band Artful Dodger‘s #2 hit ‘Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo-Selecta),’ the singer/songwriter caught the attention of (the now defunct) Wildstar Records who, in turn, helped him craft his debut album.
Written in its entirety by David and his Artful Dodger co-hort Mark Hill, the project was christened ‘Born To Do It’ – a play on a quote lifted from the classic film ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.’ Given the album’s content (see: delectable R&B grooves, sweet/soulful harmonies, and infectious hooks), it’s fair to say the reference was apt.
Enter ‘Fill Me In’:
Talk about an out of the box success!
On the UK front the song broke records and saw his name “filled in” to the top spot upon its arrival. In fact, at the time, he was the youngest male solo act to have his debut single go to #1. While not greeted with as booming reception Stateside, the song did manage to slide into an impressive #15 peak on the Billboard Hot 100 a year after its UK chart domination.
David was in demand…very high demand.
Released August 2000, ‘Fill’s parent album – ‘Born To Do It’ – landed at #1 on UK album charts and was launched to the top via an impressive 225k sold its first week. The launch also landed Craig right in the history books with the best-selling first week sales of a debut album by a British male solo act on UK charts (a record that still stands in 2015).
By the time the album was released in the U.S. (a year later) it had already moved nearly 4 million units worldwide. Debuting at #11 on the Billboard 200, its warm welcome aboard American charts would only help propel that number upward.
And, to ensure such was the case, David and team tapped the mid-tempo groove ‘7 Days’ as its second single:
It quickly proved to be another homerun for the Brit-born beau.
Soaring straight to #1 on UK charts in 2000, ‘Days’ domination of radio and video airplay would lead to comparable victories a year later on U.S. charts (where it peaked at #10). To date, the song remains his biggest worldwide hit and only top 10 charting on the Hot 100.
And, while follow-up tunes ‘Walking Away’ and ‘Rendezvous’ couldn’t sing of similar success on U.S. shores (the former peaked at #44 and the latter missed the Hot 100 all together), their impacts were certainly still felt on the British side of the pond as both were top 10 smashes there.
When all was said and done ‘Born To Do It’ was a worldwide success. Hovering near the 8 million sold mark (as of time reporting), the album – nearly 20 years later – still shines as one of the best-selling R&B albums by a British male solo act in history.
On the critical front ‘Born’ boasted a host of industry nods and wins including MTV VMAs, EMAs, MOBOs, BRIT Awards, and even landed two Grammy nominations in the ‘Best Male Pop Vocal Performance’ category in 2002 and 2003 for ‘Fill Me In’ and ‘7 Days’ respectively.
Despite all signs initially pointing to a promising career, David’s downfall was swift after this project. Yet, while we won’t add to the fingers being pointed in a number of directions to lay blame (see: inconsistent material, shifts in overall musical atmosphere, ‘Bo Selecta’ parodies), what we will do is celebrate the gem of an album ‘Born To Do It’ was.
Never quite fully given its due, the quality of his debut should be noted even if only for its ability to stand rank against the day’s chart titans: oversexualized hip hop and influx of teen pop. Even in the realm of R&B’s frontrunners Sisqo and Usher, David was still able to find his own lane of youthful Urban pop/R&B that didn’t require impressive dance moves or the approach to older audiences like R&B beaus R. Kelly, Maxwell, Brian Mcknight, etc.
We certainly rank ‘Born’ as one of the “must hear” Urban releases of the century. And, while we step away to press play on our jam “Follow Me,” you tell us: