by Jodee Brown
The Big Apple feels more like the Land of Wood and Water now that international music star Mr. Vegas has New York City rocking to the sounds of Sweet Jamaica. With stellar unplugged performances at Lincoln Center Theatre and Miss Lily’s Variety in Greenwich Village, anticipation is high for the release of his double album, Sweet Jamaica. Celebrating the evolution of Jamaica’s rich sound in honor of the Island’s 50th Anniversary, Sweet Jamaica will hit stores and digital outlets on March 6.
Mr. Vegas, accompanied by only his backup singers and guitarist Tony Bone, debuted tracks from Sweet Jamaica Reggae to packed house of media and recording industry vets at Miss Lily’s Variety earlier this month. A musical experience that was dubbed “magical” by renowned music journalist and host Rob Kenner, Mr. Vegas performed brand new singles like Alive and Well and paid homage to Reggae pioneers with original songs like Roses In My Garden set to the music of Ska legend Eric Donaldson’s Cherry Oh Baby and Things Ruff to the tune of iconic Reggae singer Jimmy Cliff’s You Can Get It If You Really Want.
The following week Mr. Vegas was center stage at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theatre, performing to a sold-out crowd during the New York City premiere of acclaimed Jamaican film Better Mus’ Come. Sponsored by LargeUp.com, in collaboration of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Imagenation, Mr. Vegas brought down the house with another acoustic set from Sweet Jamaica Reggae. One of the shows many highlights was an impromptu dance party with members of the audience during his rendition of Toots & the Maytals classic, Sweet & Dandy.
Mr. Vegascaused hysteria in Brooklyn when he performed his current monster Dancehall hit “Bruk It Down” inside the Buzz Nightclub. Dancehall fans filled the Buzz to maximum capacity, leaving hundreds of patrons outside for Mr. Vegas’ Sweet Jamaica Dancehall party sponsored by Hot97 DJs, Bobby Konders and Jabba.
During his stay, Mr. Vegas delivered a motivational speech to teenagers at August Martin High School in Jamaica, Queens and caved to the students’ demand for a performance. He ran through a medley from his 15 year catalogue of Dancehall singles, included new material from Sweet Jamaica Dancehall.
“Sweet Jamaica is all about the history of Jamaican Music – Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, and Dancehall. I purposely made it a double album, Sweet Jamaica Reggae and Sweet Jamaica Dancehall, so people of all ages with various musical preferences can listen, enjoy, and celebrate Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary,”says Clifford ‘Mr. Vegas’ Smith.
Sweet Jamaica’s lead single, aptly titled, Sweet Jamaica hit #1 on Reggae charts in Europe and the United States last year, while the video peaked at #1 on the MTV BASE Dancehall Video chart. The album’s second release, Certain Law also spent several weeks at #1 on the MTV BASE charts. Currently, the album’s third video,Bruk It Down is at the top of the MTV BASE charts.
According to journalist Jesse Sewer, Sweet Jamaica is “going to be the record that cements Vegas’ place among Jamaica’s all-time great artists-if he’s not in that echelon already.”