Release Date: 13/05/22
Spec: 1LP Limited signed colour vinyl
Since he first emerged at the end of 1999 with instant UK garage classic Re-Rewind, Craig David has scored 25 UK top 40 singles (16 of them top 10), nine UK top 40 albums (five of them top 10) and amassed over 5 billion (!) streams worldwide. In fact, over 1.5 billion of those came via his most recent releases, 2016's chart-topping comeback album, Following My Intuition, and 2018's career consolidating The Time Is Now. If you're more used to the old school metrics, that's 20m global sales. And speaking of global, he's played sold out tours everywhere from America to Australia, Japan to Germany. Across his twenty-plus year career, he's collaborated with the likes of Sting, Kano, Diplo and KSI, while also becoming one of the biggest DJs in Ibiza via his TS5 soundsystem. Award-wise we're talking 14 Brit Award nominations, two Grammy nominations, four MOBO awards and three Ivor Novellos honouring his songwriting. It's impressive, sure, but that's the past. It's ephemera. “I always feel like you need to be more real-time and present in the now,” David confirms.
That present involves an excellent new album, his eighth, in the shape of next year's 22. “It's 22 years since the first album, it will be 2022 when the album drops,” he explains of the title. This month sees the arrival of 22's glorious, MNEK-assisted lead single Who You Are, which cocoons a feel-good pop lyric about being present in a pristine UK garage casing courtesy of producer Digital Farm Animals. Like all Craig David classics it feels both box fresh and warmly nostalgic. “It will live in the world this song,” David says. “It feels so authentic, it has intention. Put on Who You Are to try and talk to someone that needs help.”
The idea of putting a smile on people's faces is at the heart of 22, an album whose title itself reflects myriad different themes. “There's also a spiritualism in the number 22 and what it represents,” he says. “In numerology it's a very powerful number and in terms of angel numbers it's bringing balance and equilibrium to my life. We're in a world where there's a lot of me against you, and so it's bridging the gap.” The title also represents distance; it's a date stamp that marks his career longevity. So what does the album's contents say about Craig David in 2022? “At its core it's still very much everything I've honoured since I was a kid, but in some ways I'm being more playful,” he says. “Loosening up the chains of my history. My debut is probably the most clear expression of who I am because it was my first outing – it's everything you are. So on this album there's that energy mixed with the wisdom and experience I can bring to the world. I've not mastered anything yet, I'm a newcomer still.” Still very much born to do it, just older and wiser.