Mr. Vegas Bio
Mr Vegas is one of Jamaican dancehall’s most successful and distinctive artists, the instantly recognizable voice behind so many of the genre’s 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 one-man hits jukebox recognized as much for his dynamic personality as he is for his electric live shows.
Behind every great artist is a dynamic origin story, and Mr. Vegas is no exception. Born Clifford Smith in Kingston, he earned what would later become his stage name on the soccer field, where he was known to kick the ball with a style so flashy it reminded teammates of a Las Vegas showgirl. Inspired to take up music by iconic Jamaican singers like Alton Ellis and Dennis Brown, he 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, leading him to develop the trademark vocal style he’s maintained to this day.
As the legend goes, Vegas was so inspired by hearing Jeremy Harding’s groundbreaking Playground riddim that he requested that his doctor remove his jaw wiring so he could visit the studio to add his vocals to the track that same night. Unable to fully open his mouth, he delivered his lines in a clipped style closer to that of a deejay, adding in scat vocalizations like “Di Doooo!”. “Nike Air” was a hit, and Vegas had found a winning formula that set him apart from the soundalike singers then populating the dancehall landscape.
1998 would prove to be Mr. Vegas’ breakthrough year. “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 also recorded a string of collaborations with a young Sean Paul, helping propel the latter to stardom. Several of these 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 would also release 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, helping propel 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 at iconic Los Angeles indie label Delicious Vinyl. The imprint behind hip-hop classics like Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” and The Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” released Vegas’ Pull Up and Hot It Up albums 2004 and 2007, respectively, helping enhance his presence in the North American market.
Always one to roll with the times, Vegas next 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 found himself exploring 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.” He would also make 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 date when Beyonce tapped him to appear on an official remix to her single “Standing on the Sun.”
With the rise of social media, Vegas’ career has taken another notable turn. Never one to shy away from giving his views on the music industry, politics and relationships, he began taking to YouTube, and later Facebook and Instagram Live, to share his opinions. While his honesty and openness make him a target for criticism, his willingness to take risks has helped keep him relevant in the youth-driven dancehall market for over two decades. The same could also be said for his foresight to collaborating with other artists at unproven stages of their career, from his early partnership with Sean Paul to his more recent work alongside Latinx stars Amara La Negra (Dominican Republic), Los Rakas (Panama) and MC Fiote (Brazil), with whom he just recorded the single “Estoy Aqui.”
Recently, Vegas has turned his attention to the Latin market, where he has had success with his most recent hit “So High,” which has almost 20 million views on YouTube and over 5 million plays on Spotify. Not that he’s abandoned his base dancehall market, as he has just added another dancehall hit to his catalog in “Friendship.”
Mr. Vegas is sure to continue influencing dancehall and the broader music world for a long time to come.
HOT IT UP
Produced by Mr Vegas the album will contain the works of several producers such as Stephen McGregor, Leftside & Esco, Sly & Robbie among others.
Mr Vegas's fans can also look out for the latest video from him for the combination single recorded with Jovi Rockwell 'You Gonna Need Me'. The video was shot on location in Los Angeles, California.
For a full list of all the Mr Vegas current tracks... Check out the Mr Vegas Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/mrvegas and hear full versions of his new material.
.. Also, check out his website at