How sweet it is! May 29th marks official worldwide release of the new reggae and dancehall double disc CD, ‘SweetJamaica’, from international Jamaican artist, Mr Vegas
2012 is a milestone year not only for Jamaica, which celebrates 50 years of independence, but also for international Jamaican reggae dancehall artist Clifford Smith, aka Mr Vegas (“Bruk It Down”, “Gallis”, “I Am Blessed” “Heads High”). In the spirit of togetherness,Mr Vegas’s new album, ‘Sweet Jamaica’, set to release May 29th in digital and hard copy, unites reggae and dancehall in an unprecedented double-disc set. From 15 tracks of real roots reggae to 16 more of electrifying dancehall, ‘Sweet Jamaica’ is not only a complete listening experience, it’s a visual one too, just check the cover and album art done in retro event poster style. Including guest spots by Grammy winner Shaggy, roots standard bearer Luciano, the ‘General’Josie Wales, Nadine Sutherland, sax maestro Dean Fraserand pop sensation Jovi Rockwell, the album presents a seamless mix of up-to-the-time dancehall (“Bruk It Down” – #1 on MTV Base chart, #1 in Jamaica, #1 on BBC 1 Extra in the UK) foundation one drop hits and unreleased original interpretations of reggae classics (“Sweet & Dandy”, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” and more). Backed by crucial production from Mikey Bennett, Sly & Robbie, Steelie & Clevie and Adde, not to mention the mixing and mastering skills of Rohan Dwyer, ‘Sweet Jamaica’ simultaneously satisfies the most discerning tastes of reggae and dancehall as well as world music fans everywhere. ‘Sweet Jamaica’ is the debut release from Vegas’ own label imprint, MV Music and is distributed by VP Records (CD) and INgrooves (digital).
Sweet Jamaica’ opens fittingly with the foundation of reggae music, where Jamaican folk traditions fuse with American R&B and gospel for an affect that ultimately move the body and soul. Mr Vegas just makes you want to move much, much more. ‘Sweet Jamaica’ connects past and present on songs like the first hit single and title track, “‘Sweet Jamaica’” featuring Shaggyand 80s star dancehall deejay Josie Wales as well as on “Can’t Stop” recorded with Jovi Rockwell and Sly & Robbie on the drum ‘n bass. Vegas’s updated versions of classic Jamaican hits like “Take It Easy” (Hopeton Lewis/1966) and even “Ob-La-De Ob-La-Da”(Beatles/1968) demonstrate the deepest respect Vegas has for the foundation and the artistic range he brings to Jamaican music.‘Sweet Jamaica’ invokes the warmth of past analog recordings, including innovative interpretations of seminal songs in Jamaica’s history. “Things Ruff” breaks down Jimmy Cliff’s “You Can Get It If You Really Want It”and builds it back in Vegas’s own image–including a wicked deejay segment–while “Gimme A Light” pays homage toDesmond Decker’s “Israelites” but this time in the context of an herbalist tribute.
Still, foundation reggae music alone cannot contain the creativity of Clifford Smith. Here, the dancehall side of ‘SweetJamaica’makes the transition from the present to the cutting edge of Jamaican music, the best example is this summers worldwide anthem,“Bruk It Down”. Also on the LP, dancehall’s fast rising super-producer from Sweden, Adde, lends his infectious vibe on the BBQ riddim to “Beautiful Life”. Mr Vegas’ renowned sense of humour and lyrical theater is on full display with “Champagne Rosé”–recorded on a remake of the Black Widow (1998) riddim–while “Certain Law” pokes fun at dancehall’s strict social code.“Party Tun Up”, recorded on a riddim composed by Teetimus and Sukufrom Ward 21, channels the pulse of current dancehall – insert girls and dancing here- based around Vegas’s fast deejay style and even songs with clear social commentary on the dancehall side of ‘Sweet Jamaica’, songs like “Black & Proud” and “Let The Music Play”, require you to move with the messenger.
Presenting reggae and dancehall like it’s never been done before, ‘Sweet Jamaica’ will undoubtedly be a milestone. “I want to be around in twenty years,” says Vegas, “and ‘Sweet Jamaica’ is the best way I can think of to put my stamp on the future, one in which real foundation reggae and dancehall both play a part, just like real life”.
Vegas is motivated in great part to be the change he wants to see. “It seems as if our younger producers are turning their backs on Reggae to ‘cross-over’ into the American and European mainstream markets. What they don’t realize is that all our artists, from Bob Marley to Shabba Ranks, Sean Paul, and myself, crossed into mainstream playlists with authentic Jamaican music. We set a trend that the rest of the world wants to follow, not the other way around.”
Mr. Vegas is a former MOBO award winner, in 2010 was nominated for Soul Train ‘Reggae Artist Year’ and performed at theSoulfusion Soul Train Awards in early 2011 and has performed live on the CBS Morning Show in New York. In 2011, and in collaboration with Shellian McBayne, Mr. Vegas initiated the Save Foundation Reggae campaign with a petition appealing to radio disc jockeys to include more reggae pioneers like Alton Ellis, Gregory Issacs, and Cynthia Schloss in their daily playlists. People from as far away asKenya,Australia, andQatar have signed the petition. Mr Vegas will be touring extensively thoughout Europe, theCaribbeanIslands andNorth America summer 2012.