Mr. Vegas, Mz Vee, Yung Alpha gives Africa another ‘Essence’
Mr. Vegas is one of the foremost and most successful Jamaican dancehall artists, with a distinctive and instantly recognizable voice behind so many of the genres definitive anthems.
From his breakthrough hits “Heads High” and “Nike Air,” to modern classics like “Tek Weh Yuh Self” and “Bruk It Down,” he’s a proven one-man hits jukebox recognized as much for his dynamic personality as well as his electric live shows.
Behind every great artist is a dynamic origin story, and Mr. Vegas is no exception. Born as Clifford Smith in Kingston, he earned what would later become his stage name on a soccer field, where he was known to kick the ball with a style so flashy that it reminded his teammates of a Las Vegas showgirl.
Inspired to take up music by iconic Jamaican singers like Alton Ellis and Dennis Brown, Mr. Vegas initially fashioned himself as a crooner in the vein of Sanchez and other popular ‘90s Jamaican vocalists.
However, a broken jawbone suffered after he was hit with a crowbar changed his trajectory, giving birth to his trademark vocal style he’s maintained to this day.
Mr. Vegas would then make his career breakthrough in 1998. “Heads High,” recorded a year earlier with musician and producer Danny Browne, became a massive international hit, leading to his first overseas tours. That same year, he recorded a string of collaborations with a young Sean Paul, helping propel the latter to stardom.
Several of these collaborations were selected to appear in the iconic hype Williams film Belly, with the duo appearing together to perform “Top Shotta” in the movie’s memorable Jamaican street dance scene. Vegas released his debut album, Heads High, through Greensleeves Records, in 1998.
As dancehall reached new heights of commercial popularity in the early 2000s, Mr.Vegas was right there propelling the genre forward with hits like “Hot Gal today” (also with Sean Paul) and “Girl’s Time,” featured on his 2001 Album, Damn Right. In 2004, he joined the fold of iconic Los Angeles Indie label, delicious Vinyl. This imprint behind hip-hop classics such as Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” and The Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” released Vegas’ Pull Up and Hot It up albums in 2004 and 2007respectively, enhancing his presence in the North American market.
Always one to roll with time, Vegas turned his attention to the innovative choreography that was coming out of Jamaica’s street dances, turning moves like “Hot Wuk” and “Tek Weh Yuh Self” into certified bashment party smashes. He also explored traditional reggae and old-school dancehall sounds on songs like “You’re Gonna Need Me,” a duet with Jovi Rockwell, and the Barrington Levy-inspired “Mus Come a Road.” In addition, he made a notable contribution to the birth of Major Lazer, which co-opted his Jovi Rockwell duet “Can’t Stop Now” for its own 2009 debut, Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Do.
In 2012, Vegas delved deeper into vintage sounds with Sweet Jamaica, covering classic reggae, ska and rocksteady from the Jamaican songbook on the occasion of jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence. While working on the album — Vegas’ first for his own label MV Music — his dancehall singles “Bruk It Down” and “Party Tun Up” became massive hits, leading him to issue the project with a second, companion CD featuring these and other contemporary tracks. In 2014, he received arguably one of his biggest endorsements to take when Beyonce tapped him to appear on an official remix to her single “Standing on the Sun.”
Mr Vegas has always been known for his energetic constancy in the music industry, and this time he has crossed continents to partner with well-recognized artist from Ghana, Mz Vee, and the lead artist under Nigeria’s Wolfpack Muzic records, Yung Alpha to give us a sensational and fascinating tune titled “All of Me” – produced and Co-written by Yung Alpha, Mr Vegas and MzVee.
This song is believed to have similarities with Essence by WIZKID & TEMS. As afro music is now gradually taking over the world could this be that Mr. Vegas is trying to redirect his energy towards Africa and Nigeria in particular?