Slicker Than Your Average – Craig David (2002)


British Singer/Songwriter Craig David released his second album in 2002 having come off the back of a extremely popular debut “Born To Do It” in 2000.

It seems odd today but there were next to none British black R&B artists in the UK Charts and it is this that I always believe that David was the butt of media jokes throughout his successful period which with the likes of Stormzy and Tinie Tempha popular today seems quite bizarre.

As sophomore albums go this wasn’t a bad effort from David who secured a number of hit singles as well as creating an album which in terms of production doesn’t sound too dated here in 2017.

What is apparent on this album is just how insecure Craig David was which might explain why after 2007 there was no new material for 9 years due to the decline in credibility and interest in his progression as an artist.

The title of the album suggest that there is a boyish arrogance but the title track “Slicker Than Your Average” is really anything but. David wants us to believe that he believes in his own ability but clearly he is hurt by the reaction to him and his music from the mainstream press, fans and the music press.

In this song he address’ being told he wasn’t good enough, being told that he has turned his back on the UK garage music scene and how his image is too clean to be accepted in the R&B world.

The production on this song is bold and slick. It’s the edge the song needs but the lyrics and delivery I find hard to fully believe because David is trying to give off a tough image yet he mentions kids pulling off the bumper on his Peugeot 206 which even for that time wasn’t exactly a car you’d be ecstatic to drive.

Lyrical content has never been Davids strength despite catchy hooks and pleasant production. This is shown none more so than on “Whats Your Flava”.

When this song came out I was in college and absolutely loved it. I loved singing a long to the inane lyric about asking a girl “I wonder if I can peel your wrapper” as I compare her to chocolate in a way usually only R.Kelly could get away with.

This song is a departure from the lighter sound on the first album which as the lead single showed much promise despite it being all a little frivolous.

More lyrical nonsense comes on the third track “Fast Cars” which is one of those songs that sees David try to gain some ‘street cred’. Again the production is slick and bold. The chorus is a weak as David sings about fast cars and fast women but the song somehow works. It sounds together in a cohesive fashion that was all very deliberate.

As the song plays out it transitions brilliantly into a song more akin to the sound on the first album “Hidden Agenda” which is one of the albums real highlights. David shows that he is more comfortable on the sweeter Pop side of R&B and delivers vocally on this very pretty song.

The first time the public became aware of Craig David was on the classic Garage anthem “Rewind” with duo “The Artful Dodger”. But with Garage music being here in the mainstream for only a fleeting moment David turned his attention to the more safe styling of Pop/R&B. But for those looking for some tracks more towards the Garage style “Slicker Than Your Average” does have a few moments such as the fifth track “Eeenie Meanie”. 

Similar to the nursery rhyme influenced “Booty Man” from his first album the chorus gives a tongue in cheeky interpolation. This track sounds dated now and not in a retro way. But David again makes it work in a tale about a girl that he wants to leave due to her listening too much to what other people think.

Featuring a rap verse from the unknown Messiah Bolical the track speeds up in the final act as David really tries to give this album a bigger and bolder sound. In someways (even with the colour scheme on the front cover) there can be comparisons with Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album where he had come off the back of the biggest album ever in “Thriller” and wanted to toughen up the songs and his image.

“You Don’t Miss Your Water (Til’ The Well Runs Dry)” is just a load of shit. That might not be a intricate enough display of vocabulary for some reading this but this song is just a whole load of wet tosh. David sounds nasal with his vocal and the lyrics are so cringy that the song just leaves you feeling hollow. This is an empty track which is Craig David at his absolute worst.

“Rise & Fall” is probably more of what he was looking for with that heavier production but sensitive feeling to the lyrics. Joining him on this song is Sting. The song uses a the guitar on Sting’s “Shape Of My Heart”.

David sings about the perils of fame and feeling as though he is losing his integrity with all the things available to him. The irony is David can look at this song as one which described his career as he went from million selling albums to gradually leaving the music industry without releasing an album of new material for over a decade from 2005 to 2016.

“Personal” sees David offer up a conventional R&B song. R.Kelly was clearly an influence on this track with it’s direct sexual lyrics and obvious intention for the song to be used in for an intimate moment.

Despite how David comes across on some songs he does pull this off convincingly and I thoroughly enjoy this song. It may be quite simple in it’s construction but when you get this right it can be a real winner.

“Hands Up In The Air” sounds a major product of 2002. The production here is of a time and sounds like what seems like a million tracks from that period. It’s a basic sound that David is able to create and create it well but this is one of the most forgettable tracks on the set and bores me.

The Garage heads are supplied with something again on track 10 “2 Steps Back”. Lyrically David struggles with his same old tale of a girl who he is trying to get to be with him. It’s a very soft and safe track which makes it just plain average.

“Spanish” is more ambitious but lyrically it is a another stinker.

“This girl looked half black, yet half oriental
Man, this chick’s got class and style”

Sadly Craig you haven’t got any on this track.

It did secure another top 10 hit for David though I reckon you would be hard pressed to find anyone who remembers it as it just drifts into the world of noise.

“Whats Changed” is a duet with singer Katie Holmes (no not the actress that was married/captured by Tom Cruise). This is the first duet we have heard David on up to this point of his career. This is a decent tune but like a few of the songs on this album they just lack enough to keep interest going for the full song. I might be being a little harsh on this particular song which is more of a standard R&B sounds which isn’t bad just a little uninteresting.

“World Filled With Love” is an important moment because it spells the start of the decline for Craig David who would follow this album up with a group of songs more akin to this this dreary and formulaic song.

Everything he was telling us on the title track is turned around with a song such as this. Boring, diluted crap.

At the time of this album’s release I was a big Craig David fan. I can remember standing outside Virgin Megastore with my friend Darrell as waited for it to open so we could purchase this album. I’ve played it more times than I probably should admit and listening to it again and really driving deeper into the songs find a bit of an erratic set that shows the best and worst that Craig David has to offer.

It’s a solid follow up to his successful debut but the direction he was going in was evident with some god awful tracks that appear on here and the better songs like “Hidden Agenda” and “Whats Your Flava” are a little negated but some of the dreary and quite frankly boring tracks.


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