URBAN BEAT Magazine
Vol. 5, Issue 1
Photo by Saikho
MR. VEGAS AT JAMAICA JAMAICA
MR. VEGAS : NO. 1 ... AND THEN SOME
by Scottie McDonald
Jamaican dancehall artist Mr. Vegas has become a world-wide
in an amazingly short time. He had so many hit singles in a row
that when it came time to release his first album, it looked more like a
greatest hits collection than a debut effort. His mega-hit,
"Heads High," topped the British reggae charts for months, and now
again the re-mix of the same song has been number one for weeks.
The 20-song album release on the Greensleeves label entitled "Heads
High" is now sweeping the album market, while yet another song from the
album, "Jacket," has been recently released as a single and is residing
at the top of the British and Jamaican charts.
In a great stroke of luck the Houston club, Jamaica Jamaica, was
able to bring the performer here for a packed show on December
Vegas tore down the house just as he had done earlier this year at the
prestigious international concert, Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica.
fortunate to be able to speak with the artist briefly before the show.
How did you come by the name "Mr. Vegas".
Mr. Vegas came about from a mischievous cousin of mine. We were
playing soccer one day, and they had this club they call `Las Vegas'
where they had these go-go dancers. My cousin was saying that I was
playing like how the girls at the club dance... like he was trying to
say, I play like a girl. (Laughs.) So that name just kinda stick home
from there, because you know in Jamaica when you're trying to hit out
against a name, that's when it sticks.
Tell us about your vocal style.
You're doing sing-jay, but with a voice like yours, you
could doing some excellent straight-ahead singing!
Actually, at first, before this sing-jay style came about, it was
like the real sweet style of singing. I used to sing covers
and stuff like that; a song over "Killing Me Softly" in combination
with a deejay out of Jamaica, Don Yute. Then I went back in the
studio and did another cover of Az Yet's "Last Night".
So it was like
real singing at first. But after receiving a broken jaw bone
in 1996, it kind of changed the style, because when the mouth was
wired, I couldn't really sing as I would have wanted because the mouth
couldn't open the way it should. So while the wire was inside my
mouth, I was still writing stuff, but I couldn't sing it the way I
would have before. So I had to stick to a more hardcore sing-jay
style. The first tune was "Nike Air (Hands in the Air)" and that's
where you get that kind of like singing through the teeth. (Sings and
laughs.) And after the wire was taken out and the mouth got better, I
just stick with it because, you know... if it works, don't fix it!
What do you think about your new-found fame and how do you think it
will affect you in the future?
Well, in this business of Reggae music - Dancehall as you call it - the
important thing is to stay focused. You've got to be going around the
studios and voicing on difference tracks and stuff like that. But the
main thing is to respect your fans and the people who are pushing the
music and stuff like that. You have to just keep on working... keep on
finding new styles. You know, catchy lyrics, stuff that people can
really relate to... stuff that people can sing along with.
So, you know, we just want to stick around and just `big up' the ladies
as we always do and stuff like that.
Give us some background on your phenomenal new CD.
As you know, Mr. Vegas just came on the scene maybe about eight months
now and it has been a lot of work. We had some songs that were
released before that we could include on the album, and some new songs
that we went into the studio and did. But the main thing is that it
was just a mixture of producers. A lot of producers came together and
put this album out so that each song could really have a different
sound, so you don't really have 20 songs sounding the same, like you're
playing one song. It's just a different mixture of producers;
different writing styles. Everything is different about it.
[Scottie McDonald's "Rice Radio Reggae" can be heard 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays
on K-TRU 96.1 FM and can be streamed on-line at www.ktru.org and with free phone apps.]
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