The reggae and dancehall world has been acquainted with Mr. Vegas for quite sometime. The veteran artiste was born Clifford Smith in Kingston Jamaica in 1974. He later got his nickname, Mr. Vegas on the school yard from his classmates who thought he kicked the ball with the flare of a Las Vegas dancer. His artistic panache and ability to create catchy tunes backed by solid riddims has taken him far, giving the reggae and dancehall community a catalog of music we have graciously vibed to for the past two decades.
He began his career by singing covers of popular Jamaican songs in the schoolyard and around town where he earned the title of “bad boy” for using explicit lyrics. After a performance one night, there was a scuffle involving a crowbar which lead to his jaw being wired shut. Before his jaw had proper time to heal, Vegas demanded his jaw be unwired after hearing Beenie Man’s song, “Who Am I,” and was inspired to practice toasting of his own. Toasting, in Jamaica, is described as talking or chanting over a melodic riddim played by a deejay similar to rap artist today. It’s original origin relates back the the griots of West Africa who are traveling poets, musicians or singers of praise. The musical traditions can be found in Caribbean calypso and mento (Jamaican folk music.) It’s used as an outlet to comment on political and social issues. Also for comic relief. Sexual innuendos were often chanted as well and is thought to be the precursor for the slackness found in dancehall music today.
With that being said, just as Jamaican music has a long history so does Mr. Vegas. He’s worked with many artists including Shaggy, Sean Paul, Snoop Dogg, Beyoncé and soca artist Machel Montano to name a few. In 2008 he went into early retirement searching for contentment and to enjoy life with his family and become closer God, but he never really retired. He recorded a “few” more songs and in 2009 released a song perfectly titled Can’t Stop Now in collaboration with Major Lazer.
In 2011 and 2012 Mr. Vegas formed his own record label, MV Music, where he released Sweet Jamaica in celebration of Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary. It was an album where he wanted to stake his claim in the reggae and dancehall industry, an album that would hold true to the foundation of Jamaican culture. It was produced and recorded with with many reggae greats including Grammy nominated artist, Barrington Levy. The proceeds of the album went to benefit children of Mustard Seed Communities which is a home for abandoned and disabled children in and around Kingston. “Sweet Jamaica” was dubbed as one of the “Top 50 Albums of 2012” on Google music and debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Reggae charts.
On January 29th the artist is relaunching his clothing line, MV Collections, where you can get Mr. Vegas signature t-shirts and hats. He is also announced as an artist preforming on the “Welcome to Jam Rock” cruise in November of this year. Always staying relevant with the latest topics and dance moves, Vegas debuted a his newest single “Dancehall Dabb.” The song is fun and upbeat, fusing the globally popular dance craze, “The Dab” with dancehall. The song premiered last week on World Star HipHop and was reviewed by Hip Hop Weekly saying “Mr. Vegas has created the first reggae club-banger of 2016.” The video was shot on an all white backdrop with colorful dancers dancing in unison. It looks as if the video took some visual inspiration from Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” video.
Catch the “Dancehall Dabb” here on KingstontoLA.