For many dancehall reggae stars, breaking out of Jamaica’s local sound clash scene to the glitzy glossed over stages in America is dream achieved by very few. Most recall Sean Paul’s ascension to fame, where he was able to blow smoke in the face of censorship and sneak his pro-pot patois onto radio waves, and become the sound of Spring Break ‘03. But for every radio friendly star that ascends from the island to pop status, there are artists who carry the genre, encapsulating dancehall’s 80s vibes and mixing it with contemporary flair, skewing the border between “culture” jams and a hardcore tunes.
On his sophomore effort, Mr. Brooks, Mavado accomplishes that feat by carefully walking the line between conscious topics such as enlightenment (”Don’t Worry”) and detailing intensely ferocious moments of violence (”Nah Bleach Wid Cream”). By weaving illicit, raunchy sex tales (”Ina Di Car Back”), he also sordidly covers dancehall’s favorite topic, with the same tenacity that helped him become a breakout star with his debut album, 2007’s Gangsta for Life: The Symphony of David Brooks.
Segueing his signature ballad introductions into triumphant, fevered chats, Mr. Brooks finds Mavado effortlessly riding a collection of riddims that can be sonically disturbing to those unfamiliar with real dancehall’s uniquely stripped down sound. On the album’s stand out track, “So Special” he takes the “Unfinished Business” riddim (which lifts the refrain of producer’s Dave Kelly’s famed “Showtime” track) to new heights, crafting a cut that demands a flurry of rewinds after the conclusion of the first verse.
Though it is unlikely that Mavado will be dominating the primetime radio stations anytime soon like Sean Paul did, the vivid illustrations of roots, reality and culture heard in Mr. Brooks, are poignant enough to be on par with some of modern dancehall’s most diverse offerings and should be played on a sound set of any size.
- 1. David’s Psalm – (featuring Dudley ‘Grincha’ Excell)
- 2. Every Situation
- 3. On The Rock
- 4. So Blessed
- 5. So Special
- 6. Life Of A G
- 7. Welcome To The Armegedeon – (featuring Dudley ‘Grincha’ Excell)
- 8. Gangster Don’t Play
- 9. Real Killer (No Chorus)
- 10. Chiney K
- 11. Jailhouse
- 12. Don’t Worry
- 13. Money Changer
- 14. Money
- 15. In Di Car Back
- 16. Which Gal
- 17. Overcome
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