Mr. Vegas : Damn Right

Rough-throated dancehall with moral streak

Despite the more libidinous aspects of the dancehall scene that spawned him, Mr Vegas actually has a moral streak a mile wide. The rough-voiced Jamaican DJ who tempers his harsh patois with a melodious, almost canary-like undertow, has a righteous approach, once you get past the numerous odes to dallying with the opposite sex. There’s witty health service announcement ‘Duppy Durex’, that advocates condoms; ‘Kokane’, meanwhile, deals with the evils of, you guessed it, cocaine.

First and foremost, though, entertainment is Mr Vegas’ forte. With digital dub musical constructs that show just how deep reggae has got into the use of minimalist sonics, low-range bass frequencies, and new technology, various producers set the stage for his humorous tales of derring-do. And whether he namechecks famous peers on ‘Dem Fraid’, or shows what might’ve been if his career as a standard vocalist hadn’t been cut short by violence, with a straight cover of Gabrielle’s ‘Rise’, he keeps up a high standard.

Even though after all this time, dancehall is arguably at its best and most innovative on one-off import singles, a lot of man-hours have gone into making ‘Damn Right’ seem, with few exceptions, exactly like a collection of such.

Dele Fadele