In 1997, Clifford Smith better known as Mr. Vegas was getting nowhere as a singer of pretty cover songs. Then he got that first break: a ruff neck took a crowbar to Vegas's jaw in a dispute over the ownership of a DAT. For six weeks, Vegas sipped his food through a straw. One day, he heard Beenie Man's "Who Am I" on the radio, rushed to the doctor to remove the hardware holding his jaw together, then headed straight to Jeremy Harding's studio to "beg a ride" on the "Playground" riddim that was percolating under Beenie Man's hit. Unable to open his mouth wide enough to round his notes, Vegas was forced to shed his singer's prettiness and produce a percussive, rope-stretched-taut vocal for "Nike Air". The tune had barely soared to number one, when Vegas jumped on another wicked riddim, Danny Browne's "Filthy", for "Heads High". That number one tune's ripple effect spread to U.K., where it camped out on the Brit top ten list, and onto U.S. urban play lists, establishing Vegas as one of the leading Jamaican dancehall stars, as well as a popular headliner on the international concert circuit. Vegas also voiced the searing combination tunes "Hot Gal Today" and "Tiger Bone" with Sean Paul, and "Here Comes The Boom," featuring rapper DMX from Hype Williams' cult movie classic, "Belly". Vegas' string of dancehall boom shots made hits of his first two CDs, "Heads High" and "Damn Right", both released on Greensleeves Records.
Teacher & Mr. T.
"Pull Up", Mr. Vegas' third cd (not counting the two cd's that have not been sactioned by the artist and his management team), is his first release for the U.S. based Delicious Vinyl label. Long overdue but well worth the wait the album opens with its lead single, "Pull Up". The latter is produced by innovative producer Cordell "Scatta" Burrell of King of Kings Productions, and comes across the Indian Tantric inspired "Coolie Skank aka Coolie Dance", one of the hottest and most successful riddims that were released last year. The loopy and hypnotic "Pull Up" sees Mr. Vegas laying tight, sweet rhymes in combination with new Jamaican crooner Wayne Anthony. A big tune, not only hot in the dance hall, but also currently eating up U.S. R&B/Hip Hop charts and radio waves. Lil Jon's barks and a deep bass boom are added to the single's fat-sounding remix that rounds off the album in fine style. In between we're treated to some of his best dancehall singles delivered over hit riddims, R&B flavoured love songs and an occasional reggae tune produced by proven hit-makers like Troyton Remi, Cordell "Scatta" Burrell, Trevor James, South Rakkas Crew, Vada Nobles (lauded for productions on Lauryn Hill's "Miseducation"), and Vegas himself. Well-known among dancehall fans are tracks such as the energetic "Tamale", with Vegas twisting in and out of a hot sizzling beat construction, "Popito" over the wicked "Famine" riddim, the awesome combination version of "Under Mi Sensi" underpinned by the "Clappas" riddim, "Bad Man" for the "Buzz" riddim, and "Who", which comes across Black Shadow's "Surprise" riddim. American R&B-influenced moments and matters of the heart can be experienced when spinning tunes like for example the combination song with Foxy Brown, "Thank You Girl", on which his vocal delivery is reminiscent of Bill Withers, the fast-chugging love tune "Never Leave U Lonely", "Sweat" with dancehall veteran Barrington Levy and Sasha, "Don't Stop" and "You Know I Love You", a classically honeyed lovers rock plea.
In contrast to his previous albums this set shows an artist who doesn't limit himself to one genre i.e. hardcore dancehall music. With this collection of tunes MOBO Award-winner Mr. Vegas fully displays his vocal versatility. He has established himself with a distinctive singjay style, but here shows that he can sing fairly good as well. "Pull Up" is a well varied and solid album that might bring Mr. Vegas to a broader audience.