Why I Love Fill Me In and Personal

"I was checking this girl next door
When her parents went out
She phoned said, "hey boy, come on right around"
So I knock at the door
You was standin' with a bottle of red wine, ready to pour
Dressed in long black satin. lace to the floor
So I went in, then we sat down start kissing, caressing
Told me about jacuzzi, sounded interesting
So we jumped right in
All calls diverted to answer phone
Please leave a message after the tone
I mean me and her parents were kind of cool
But they ran a fine line between me and you
We were just doing things young people in love do
Parents tryna find out what we were up to
Saying why were you creeping around late last night
Why did I see two shadows moving in your bedroom light
Now you're dressed in black
When I left you were dressed in white
Can you fill me in?
Calls diverted to answer phone
Red wine bottle, half the contents gone
When I returned, Jacuzzi turned on
Can you fill me in?"
Craig David doesn't get enough credit. He is one of the best R&B artists of the last couple of decades, and he has been responsible for some of the best albums of the new Millennium. His debut, Born To Do It, is my favourite, though I also have a very soft spot for Slicker Than Your Average. And his newest album is one of the best of 2016. I got into Craig David through my brother Martin and my friend Mel, who both loved his work. When me and Martin went to see Craig David in the Wright Venue in Swords, I confirmed what I always suspected: Craig David was born to do it. One of the greatest live experiences of my life. He has a beautiful voice and knows just how to work the crowd. When he kicked off the set with R. Kelly's Bump N Grind, I knew we were in for a good time! 
Fill Me In is the opening track of David's debut album, and it sets just the right mood. That flow, good God! This song has a sensual quality that recalls some of the great R&B songs, including Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye and Homie Lover Friend Remix by R. Kelly. It's that damn good. The way he throws out the verses and shifts into the chorus gives the listener a thrill. The production by Mark Hall is dead on, with a gorgeous guitar line and an electrifying beat that switches from low down down low on the verses into a singalong body rocking beat on the chorus. The song brings to mind the excitement of early dating, and the powerful allure of early sexual encounters. That feeling that there is a whole new world out there to discover. That feeling that you have only just started to understand the mysteries of love. Fill Me In is also pretty damn witty, and full of amusing observations. You can picture in your mind the parents of the girl delivering these lines and putting her in a tough spot.

There are two versions of Fill Me In: a single version and an album version. Personally I prefer the version appearing on Born To Do It, with a beautiful "I've got something to say..." leading into the first verse. I'd say hey girl, come on right around. We were just doing things young people in love do... There is such beauty in that line, with an astonishing sense of yearning and love. This is what Craig does so well: he makes you feel it in your heart. He makes you want to make a playlist to give to your loved ones, with this song opening the damn thing. Bounce bounce to the rhythm. An appeal to the physical, an appeal to an overpowering attraction, and hopefully more than a bit of love. Can you fill me in? Can you fill me in? Fill Me In is one of the best R&B songs of the last twenty years, and always brings a deep sense of contentment and joy.
My other favourite Craig David song comes from his second album, Slicker Than Your Average. Personal is a tribute to R&B slow jams. Let's. Get. Personal. Personal. Personal. Personal. Let's. Get. Personal. Personal. Personal. Personal. Personal with you. This is a song that R. Kelly could nail, and I would love to hear a cover. The song brings to mind all of the classic 80s and 90s slow jams, from Kells to Jodeci to Maxwell to Prince. The line about t-shirt and panties on, references Adina Howard's classic T-Shirt and Panties. The production is incredibly smooth, and I love the vocoder effect that comes in and out. A slow jam is for making love, and a lot of babies have been made to this song. It is gentle love; sweet love. "Where's the bedroom?" "It's upstairs." "I'll meet you there in a minute, girl so we can get personal." Always, always makes me laugh! This is a tribute to the greats, but also proof that Craig is one of the greats. 

"Should I take off my clothes? Put the lock on the door. Let go of your deepest inhibitions, let me fulfill your fantasy girl." This always reminds me of Prince, particularly Insatiable from Diamonds & Pearls. Personal is a song that can stand beside the classics and hold its head up high. For many people this may have been their very first slow jam. I can't remember the first slow jam that mattered to me, but Personal is definitely on the list of my favourites. I mean that vocal... sublime. One of the most talented vocalists of his generation, without a doubt. Shout out to Marshall & Trell for the production. 

A lot of people disrespect Craig David. And that pisses me off. Off of the strength of his first two albums alone, he should be considered one of the most important and best R&B artists of the New Millennium. When you throw in the fact that he has turned out consistently good and interesting work, with his latest Following My Intuition being really damn good, people should respect his talent as among the most prodigious of his generation. The reason for this disrespect probably has a lot to do with the repugnant comedy of Bo Selecta, something that has not stood any test of time, while Craig's music continues to attract an appreciative audience. I would also suggest that the disrespect of Craig has a lot to do with the pernicious bullshit around many music critic's dismissal of R&B as being lowbrow. Well, R&B is the best thing going today, and Noir R&B needs legends like Craig David to help the genre plot a course in the years to come. He is amazing live, and I highly recommend you check him out if he comes to your town. These two songs are among my all time favourites and I hope you enjoy them too!


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