It was the year of the failed Millennium Dome, Ali G mania and the dawn of Big Brother when a fresh-faced (and immaculately-groomed) Craig David became a household name. August 14, 2000, saw the Southampton prodigy's impeccable debut album, Born To Do It, reach record stores across the nation, catapulting him into superstardom almost straight away. Alongside Artful Dodger's Mark Hill and Pete Devereux, the smooth crooner crafted timeless gems for the album, which remain etched in UK music's illustrious history. Hits on Born To Do It varied in sound and mood—ranging from club cuts to seductive bedroom ballads. Take the hit song "Fill Me In", for example: following the narrative of a forbidden love interest, it was set to an infectious, 2-step backdrop that would've felt more at home on a pirate radio station.
The chemistry between the acclaimed producers and 19-year-old Craig was key in creating the many magic moments that make this offering so iconic. Arguably the pinnacle of their successful collaborations came in the form of the chart-topping hit, "7 Days". The detailed account of Craig's tryst over the course of a week was memorable in many ways—from the sing-a-long chorus and his storytelling excellence, to the Balearic musical influences and not to mention another stellar music video.
At the peak of his musical powers, Craig David delivered a slick, near-flawless project.
Follow-up hits "Rendezvous" and "Walking Away" also helped to solidify Craig's name as another fine-tuned vocalist who, alongside Kele Le Roc, Beverly Knight, Aaron Soul and the late Lynden David Hall, ushered in a new style of British R&B. As part of the early-00s garage wave, Craig David's huge success contributed much to the makeup of chart hits for the remainder of 2000 and beyond. With himself, So Solid, Mis-Teeq and others bringing a sound influenced by its underground origins, acts like Liberty X, Dane Bowers and Daniel Bedingfield were able to win with the UKG formula too.
Arguably a victim of his own success, the post-Born To Do It years weren't as fortunate for Craig as his summer of dominance in the year 2000. Unable to top BTDI, the infamous Brit Awards snub and the Bo Selecta comedy series contributed to altering the public's perception of a man once tipped to be a leading star for the foreseeable future. But what Craig and his debut provided for the scene was more valuable than a lengthy career. A blueprint for success stories to come, artists like Ed Sheeran and Donae'O have been very open about the platinum-selling artist's influence on their own careers.
The biggest compliment of all, though, comes in the form of the phenomenal success of Canadian artist Drake—whose own image is reminiscent of the Craig we saw fifteen years ago. From a similar vocal style to the sensitive-but-streetwise persona, it was quite ironic that Drake was mistaken for the British star whilst visiting Wimbledon recently. Drizzy shouting David and Dodger out on "Closer" was more than a random big up—it was the metaphorical passing of the torch from the UK singer to the Young Money emcee.
A decade and a half later, Born To Do It remains a true classic. Not just in the UK, but all around the world. At the peak of his musical powers, Craig David delivered a slick, near-flawless project that will forever be remembered for its string of outstanding hits, and a reminder that every underdog has its day. Even if it is just to temporarily shake up the perceived natural order of things.