Mr. Vegas Pulls Up - Pull Up Review
It's 2004, and reggae dancehall has finally emerged from its decades-long spell in the music underground. Next up in the world spotlight is MOBO Award-winner Mr. Vegas, a frontline Jamaican dancehall star with a dazzling flow.
Artist: Mr Vegas
Title: Pull Up
Release date: 06/4/04
Single: Pull Up
Buy at: Amazon
It's the unexpectedness of the Vegas sound you notice first - the way he drives his exquisite tenor over a jumped up riddim track, then thins out the notes with a deejay's [reggae rapper] rhythmic precision. In dancehall parlance, Mr. Vegas is a "singjay" - working the borderline between singer and rapper. Following the legacy of the late singjay legend Tenor Saw, Vegas brings together in his vocals the most appealing of reggae contradictions - delirious singing blended with hardcore rapping.
Pull Up (Delicious Vinyl) takes its title after the set's lead single, produced by Scatta Burrell of King of Kings Productions and currently eating up U.S. R&B/Hip Hop charts and radio waves. Bouncing off the snaking Coolie Dance riddim, Vegas layers tight, sweet rhymes in tandem with new Jamaican crooner Wayne Anthony. The right riddim, the right vocals, and plenty of vibes - the tune is dancehall at its most heady. But Vegas never wears out a groove to the point of staleness. Each track in his third CD offers a fresh variation on dancehall rapture, and it all adds up to one irresistible command to get on the floor and sweat.
Pull Up is Vegas' first release on a stateside label with the marketing know-how to wake the global town and tell the people. You could say it's his second lucky break. In 1997, Clifford Smith - dubbed Mr. Vegas after his high-kicking showgirl football technique - 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 the leading purveyor of catchy hooks and lyrics that focus on brotherly advice to the ladies, as well as a popular headliner on the international concert circuit. Vegas also voiced searing "combinations" with Sean Paul - "Hot Gal Today," "Tiger Bone," 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 (Greensleeves) and Reggae Max (Jet Star).
Pull Up is Vegas' most impressive performance by far - a full-out display of vocal versatility so striking it's hard to believe it all comes from a single set of pipes, and featuring booming productions by proven hit-makers like Troyton Remi, Kings of Kings Crew, Fat Eyes, Vada Nobles, and Vegas himself.
"Can't Get Over You" alternates Vegas' urgently sung hook with his singjay and deejay personas taking turns on the verses. With the boundaries between hip hop and dancehall productions all but obliterated, today's rappers and deejays are jumping on each others' tracks. "Tamale," next up after "Pull Up," ratchets the energy even higher, as Vegas twists in and out of a sizzling beat construction by American Vada Nobles, lauded for productions on Lauryn Hill's Miseducation. For "Thank U Girl," with dancehall crooner Foxy Brown, Vegas switches between post-modern R&B styled verses and concussive deejay rhymes. "Never Leave You Lonely," a fast-chugging love tune showcasing the pop potential in Vegas' elastic singjay, was produced by Jamerican Dennis Shaw out of the South Florida-based South Raukus Crew.
"Popito" matches Vegas' course in Jam dung lovin' 101 with a nimble bass drum track - a perfect match of voice and riddim. For "You Know I Love You," Vegas turns softer in a classically honeyed lover's rock plea.
Back home "a Yard," Vegas is also earning a heavyweight rep as a master riddim builder, especially with his Bollywood track that gave Beenie Man "Red Red Red" and Capleton "Lock Up." But for the past five months and counting, Vegas has been busy here, working the unstoppable "Pull Up" buzz. "I've been homeless," Vegas says with a laugh. "I'm in the streets, working clubs and radio stations." Pull Up the album has no need for $30,000 star turns by urban American artists and other tricks of the crossover trade. "If the track is hot," vows Vegas. "It's gonna get played."
"Pull Up" by Mr Vegas - release date: 06/4/04..