is undergoing a transformation. It's being blown apart, and
emerging from the blast like the good guy in a cop movie, is the
latest in a new breed of artist, Mr Vegas. Young, fresh, and
burning to bring us the new flavour, this year's big buzz has his
head held high!
Following hot on the heels of his cheeky contemporary, Red Rat, Mr
Vegas is turning the reggae world upside down with his inimitable
singing style and charismatic personality. His massive single
"Heads High" blew away all competition, storming into
the UK reggae charts and refusing to budge from the top slot.
24-year old Vegas
began life as Clifford Smith. Born in Kingston, Jamaica and one of
eleven brothers and sisters, his driving ambition was to become a
singer. His first foray into music was at the tender age of eleven
when he paid a visit to a recording studio. Continuing his
education, Mr Vegas honed his smooth vocals by entering local
talent contests. The first to admit that he wasn't always
successful, Vegas' commitment proved that his was a talent that
wasn't going to be kept down.
suave moniker was coined by friends whilst playing football. His
twisting technique and pink shorts reminded them of a go-go dancer
at the local club, Las Vegas. So Mr Vegas he became, the
consummate performer, typifying the spirit of that glittering
Vegas, is one of
a new generation of Jamaican artists, firmly rooted in a solid
musical tradition, yet hungry for the way forward. Like the US
gangsta scene, ragga was in danger of slipping into stereotype,
the music no longer a true expression of a young Jamaican's life.
Vegas, always broad-minded, embraced musical genres as wide apart
as American rock and British dance, absorbing their influences and
injecting his unique style with universal appeal.
A turning point
for Vegas came in 1996 when the popular Jamaican DJ/producer, Don
Yute, overheard him singing the track "Killing Me
Softly". Yute, impressed with the sweetness of Vegas' vocals,
jumped at the opportunity of collaborating with him on a cover of
AZ Yet's "Last Night".
Vegas' career was to change forever. Whilst in session at a studio
in Kingston, he was approached by a musician angrily claiming
ownership of a DAT tape that didn't actually belong to him. Vegas
turned his back, uninterested. The dispute didn't end there.
Vegas' jaw met with an iron bar and was smashed up.
He spent six
uncomfortable weeks with his jaw wired, unable to make the soulful
music that had blown Don Yute away. But the irrepressible Vegas
wasn't going to let a small setback like having his jaw broken
stop him from laying down the vocals. He developed a singing
style, no longer pretty, but out and out hardcore. A cross between
singing and rapping, Vegas' new style was to make him a star.
orders Vegas had his jaw unwired and headed straight for the
studio. This time it was Jeremy Harding's turn to be blown away.
At the time Jeremy was one of Jamaica's lesser known producers. He
had just created the Playground rhythm which was to be
immortalised in Beenie Man's smash "Who Am I ?(Zim Zimma)".
Vegas heard it and knew that he had to record the stunning
"Nike Air" on the rhythm and the rest, as they say, is
dominated the reggae charts with a string of hits including
"Nike Air", his first chart smash in Jamaica,
"Latest News", "Yu Sure" and the superb
Brownie-produced "Heads High" which was picked up by
Kiss FM's David Rodigan and the Full Frontal girls, steaming into
the station's A-list. The track made it into the Top 75 and is
still eclipsing the competition in the UK reggae charts, where it
has held on to the No.1 slot for an unprecedented ten weeks.
spectacular debut album is creating a huge stir, both on the
street and in the industry. It is one of the most talked-about
debut's in the history of ragga, with everyone hungry for that
voice. As if this wasn't enough, Vegas has been nominated as Best
International Reggae Act for the 1998 MOBO awards, up there with
fellow ragga royalty, Beenie Man, Sizzla and Red Rat.