Mr Vegas

Reggae 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.

His suitably 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 entertainment capital.

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".

Months later 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.

Against doctor's 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 history.

Vegas has 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

Danny 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.

Mr Vegas' 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.

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