CRAIG DAVID’S “FILL ME IN” BROUGHT UK GARAGE TO THE US TOP 40
His 2000 solo debut laid the foundation for my sonic future in the process.
These last twelve months have marked the return of iconic music acts: Underworld, The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, LCD Soundsystem. The comeback I’m most geeked out about, however, is Craig David.
Back in September, the Bristish singer stepped into the BBC Radio 1Xtra booth for a live segment on Kurupt FM’s Sixty Minute Takeover, where he sang and rapped over the instrumental of Jack Ü’s radio-dominating Justin Bieber collaboration, “Where Are Ü Now,” with the lyrics of his own track, “Fill Me In.” The video went viral—as expected of anything even remotely involving the Biebs—leading to David’s surprise performances of the remix in London that next month with Major Lazer and one-half of Jack Ü, Diplo.
While Bieber fans processed the extra layer of soulful swagger David had so effortlessly bestowed upon the track, David fans basked in the nostalgia of his first solo single. Upon its release in April 2000, “Fill Me In” debuted at the top of the Irish and UK Singles charts, making the then 18-year-old crooner the youngest British male to score a No. 1 (breaking a previous record set in 1959), as well as the youngest solo artist to have his debut single go No. 1. The success launched David across the pond and straight onto US radio stations that next year.
Like another song to surreptitiously influence the foundation of my overall music taste, Modjo’s “Lady (Hear Me Tonight),” “Fill Me In” was an electronic music Trojan horse disguised as a Top 40 hit. To a casual listener (i.e. my then-ten-year-old self), it was a buttery, young-love R&B jam that fit in among tunes including Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’,” Usher’s “U Remind Me,” and 112’s “Peaches and Cream.” Once the chorus hits, however, “Fill Me In” morphs into a two-step-heavy beat courtesy of producer Mark Hill, aka one half of UK garage duo Artful Dodger.
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Though the only garage I knew at the time was the kind in which people kept their cars, “Fill Me In” was a preview of my impending fascination with the genre, which would reveal itself more than a decade later via early Disclosure (who remixed Artful Dodger), Burial, and MJ Cole. Though the track’s long been off the radio airwaves, a similar garage-leaning outro on rapper KYLE’s 2014 single “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” took me right back to those sporadic two-step jam-outs in the car. David, on the other hand, travelled further down the pop-R&B route with his next radio singles, going on to release four more studio albums, his last coming out in 2010.
With a new album reportedly on the way in 2016, the timing could not be better for a Craig David comeback. Dance music and Top 40 music have long had a symbiotic relationship in the UK, but the US radio landscape, too, has finally matured past the bombastic, EDM-pop anthems and eased into mellower, more subtle sounds in which the singer would be at home. A “Fill Me In” fan such as myself can only hope that, if said LP does drop, it’ll be a return to David’s roots.