Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 48)
Some artists begin their careers with a string of albums they can never equal. Many spend the rest of their discography attempting to figure out what made their debut album special. Unfortunately for Craig David, he peaked on the first song of his first album. This isn’t to say the rest of David’s output is bad, it’s really just a testament to how amazing Born to Do It
opener “Fill Me In” is. Craig David’s vocal style is a quick rat-a-tat rap smoothed out on the R&B tip. This style gels perfectly with the through line on “Fill Me In” which is about Craig David and the girl next door trying to get some action while her parents constantly check in to prevent any funny business. David’s consistently shifting flows meld with the jumpy 2 step rhythm of the backing track to convey a palpable sense of nervousness and excitement that comes with teenage romance (David was only 18 at the time of the songs release). The jumpiness of the verses contrast perfectly with the straight ahead hooks of the chorus, which are sung from the perspective of the girls parents questioning inconsistencies in her stories.
Even beyond the song’s musical successes, it’s just a well told story. New developments in the plot that are relayed during the couple’s escapades find their way into the chorus. In the first verse, they share a bottle of red wine, on the first chorus her parents question half the bottle’s contents missing. In the second verse, David loans her his jacket, in the second chorus they’re questioning her about the jacket’s owner. Little details like this keep the story engaging even after multiple listens. Hell, even mom and dad get a little colouring in (“You know me and her parents were kinda cool/But they ran a fine line between me and you”) that make them sound less like overbearing characters and more like concerned but caring parents.
Born to Do It
doesn’t rise again to the heights of it’s opener but still manages a few more inspired moments. While there isn't a particularly bad song here, lesser tunes like “Can’t Be Messing Around” and “Last Night” make the album a tough long player and even generally pleasurable tracks like “Follow Me” and “Time to Party” suffer from box checking (“the seduction song” and “the party song” respectively). Clearly, the most effort was expended on the album’s singles. American top 10 “7 Days” is the albums other main success sporting another well told story and an absurdly catchy chorus. Final track “Rewind” is actually here on loan from The Artful Dodger who took the song to the top 5 a year prior, breaking garage through to the mainstream in the process. It’s not hard to see why, the song is crammed with pleasurable straight ahead R&B hooks that crash into a wacked out breakdown with chunky bass hits and a bevy of cartoon sound effects as percussion. Then there’s “Bootyman”. Which is really only notable for taking some insanely awful ideas - interpolating “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” and “The Candy Man Can” (Yes. “The booty man can”) plus working an entire website URL into the chorus - and still coming out with a good song.
Immediately upon release Born to Do It
was a massive worldwide hit, shooting straight to number one in the UK, peaking high around the globe, and even selling a million copies stateside. Craig David became ubiquitous and then oversaturated. Born to Do It
would be his career peak, it was all downhill from here.