The first UK Garage track to hit the top 40 of the singles chart was Ripgroove by Double 99 in May 1997, and a re-release in the autumn of 97 which featured Top Cat on vocals would help the club classic reach the top 20.
It would take another two years before a UK Garage song would top the singles chart with the sing-a-long anthem Sweet Like Chocolate by Shanks & Bigfoot, with Sharon Woolf providing the vocals.
Sweet Like Chocolate was originally released in 1998 on Chocolate Boy Recordings, on a limited edition chocolate brown vinyl, where there would be only 1,000 pressings. It would receive a full commercial release on Pepper Records, a dance music imprint of Jive Records in May 1999, and would go on to claim the #1 spot in the singles chart for two weeks, achieve platinum status and was nominated for both Brit and Ivor Novello awards.
Sweet Like Chocolate also became the first record ever top the UK Singles Chart, UK Independent Chart, UK R&B Chart and UK Dance Chart simultaneously. Sweet Like Chocolate became the eighth best selling single of 1999 and reached the top ten in a number of countries. The track was added to Shanks & Bigfoot’s album Swing and Roundabouts in 2000.
The production duo consisting of Danny Langsman and Steven Meade, had reached the singles chart before in 1998 with the UK Garage classic Straight From The Heart, under the alias Doolally and also featured Sharon Woolf on vocals. It was a top 20 hit 98, before being re-released on Locked On with remixes from Bump & Flex and Tuff Jam, where it would peak at #9 in the singles chart.
Craig David - Fill Me In
It would be nearly a year before another UK Garage artist would top the singles chart after Shanks & Bigfoot’s success in 99, but in the spring of the new millennium UKG superstar Craig David would release his first solo single Fill Me In.
The single would reach the #1 spot in April 2000 where it would only spend one week at the peak of the chart before being knocked off by another dance anthem Toca’s Miracle by Fragma. It would be the tenth bestselling single of 2000 in the UK, shifting 495,000 copies.
Fill Me In would spend five weeks in the top 10 and a total of 17 weeks in the singles chart. It would then be released the following year in America, where it peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song would also be sampled on Justin Bieber’s 2013 single Recovery, and in 2015 Pia Mia and Austin Mahone made a cover of the song as a duet.
Fill Me In would be the lead single of Craig David’s debut album Born To Do It. Released in the summer of 2000, the album would go straight to the #1 spot in the albums chart, and would become the fastest-selling debut studio album ever by a British male solo act, selling over 225,000 copies in its first week.
Born To Do It went on to be certified six times platinum by the British Phonographic Industry. It became the UK’s 35th best-selling album of the decade, and has sold over 1.8 million copies in the UK and 8 million worldwide.
Mark Hill one half of UK Garage legends the Artful Dodger was the producer on the single Fill Me In and on the Album Born To Do It. Craig David would find fame with the Artful Dodger after providing vocals on their first chart hit Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta).
The second single to be released from Craig David’s album Born To Do It, 7 Days would also top the singles chart in the summer of 2000, and Mark Hill would again be the producer on the track.
Oxide & Neutrino - Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty)
Bound 4 Da Reload hit the #1 spot in April 2000, replacing Toca’s Miracle at the top of the singles chart, which had previous week’s knocked Craig David off the #1 position.
Oxide & Neutrino would stay at #1 for just one week before being toppled off the peak of the singles chart by Britney Spears (Oops! I Did It Again). Bound 4 Da Reload would spend four weeks in the top ten, and have fifteen week run in total in the singles chart.
The song was first released in 1999 on white label, simply entitled Casualty because of the sample used from the theme tune to the BBC medical drama. In 2000 Bound 4 Da Reload was picked up by EastWest a sub-label of the Warner Music Group, which had previously released Speed Garage anthems Gunman and Kung-Fu by 187 Lockdown.
While the record appeared on Top of the Pops in its #1 week, many radio stations refused to play the single because of the sample used from the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels ("Ah, I've been shot!/I don't fucking believe this, could everyone stop getting shot?”).
Oxide & Neutrino would release a second single in 2000, No Good 4 Me, which sampled the House classic You're No Good for Me by Kelly Charles. The song would be a top ten hit. Bound 4 Da Reload and No Good 4 Me would feature on Oxide & Neutrino debut album Execute, that would peak at #11 in albums chart in the autumn of 2001.
DJ Pied Piper & The Masters of Ceremonies - Do You Really Like It
The Ayia Napa anthem of 2001 Do You Really Like It was a collaboration between producer and DJ Pied Piper and MC DT, Melody, Sharky P and the Unknown MC aka the Masters of Ceremonies.
Originally released in 2000 on UK Garage label Soul Food Recordings before being signed to Relentless Records in 2001, which at the time was owned by Ministry of Sound.
Do You Really Like It topped the singles chart at the start of June 2001, spending one week at #1, and six weeks in the top ten.
The follow up to the UK Garage classic We R Here failed to make the singles chart, but DJ Pied Piper had reached the charts before Do You Really Like It with another UKG group Da Click. Which had two top 40 hits with Good Rhymes and We Are Da Click.
So Solid Crew - 21 Seconds
South London collective So Solid Crew would have two top five hits in 2001. 21 Seconds would top the singles chart in the summer of 2001, where It would achieve sales of over 118,000 in the first week of release. The single would be at #1 for a week, and spend six weeks in the top 20.
They Don’t Know would be the follow up single to 21 Seconds, and peaked at #3 in the autumn of 2001. They Don’t Know would also be the title of the So Solid Crew’s debut album, which reached the top ten of the albums chart.
The song title alludes to the approximate 21 seconds that each of the band members is given to perform their rap. 21 seconds is arrived at as the song's tempo is approximately 140BPM and each rapper has 12 bars of 4 beats (48 beats at 140BPM, when worked out to the nearest integer, rounds to 21 seconds).
The music video received the award for Best British Video at the 2002 BRIT Awards.
(A completely useless piece of information I used to play golf with the So Solid Crew’s manager many moons ago.)
Daniel Bedingfield - Gotta Get Thru This
Daniel Bedingfield would record his platinum selling #1 hit in bedroom, using a microphone and Reason music software on his PC.
The UK Garage classic would hit the top spot of the singles chart in 2001 and 2002. Outside the UK, the single peaked within the top ten of the charts in Australia, Canada and the United States. Where it received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Dance Recording.
Bedingfield would be one of many artists to use UK Garage to springboard their music career. He would have two more #1s in 2002 and 2003 with If You’re Not The One and Never Gonna Leave Your Side.
His debut album also titled Gotta Get Thru This would peak at #2 in the albums chart in the autumn of 2002, and sell more than 4 million copies worldwide.
3 Of A Kind - Baby Cakes
The last UK Garage song to go to #1 in the singles chart was Baby Cakes by 3 Of A Kind in 2004.
The single would spend seven weeks in the top ten and a total of twelve weeks in the top forty.
A follow-up Wink One Eye was recorded but never released. Despite the success of Baby Cakes 3 Of A Kind never had another chart hit.