The singer pledges allegiance to dancehall, talks forthcoming album.
Mavado launched his career in 2005 with several controversial, blood-splattered hit singles, but he has remained at the top of the dancehall genre through the steady release of friendlier songs celebrating sex, partying and money, punctuated by the occasional deeply felt social commentary. Armed with a repertoire of dancehall anthems amassed over the past eight years, the Kingston, Jamaica born sing-jay is concentrating on further impacting the U.S. market. Signed to DJ Khaled's We The Best Music Group (WTB), which entered into a partnership with Ronald "Slim" Williams and Bryan "Birdman" Williams' Young Money Cash Money Billionaires (YMCMB) in May 2012, Mavado is currently working on his much-anticipated debut album.
As of now, Mavado has laced dancehall singles with an ever-expanding roster of collaborations including Snoop Lion, Drake and Rick Ross. "We are working on getting singles out to set the foundation for the album," Mavado -- born David Constantine Brooks -- told Billboard on the phone from Miami, where he is now primarily based. "I recently spent time in Jamaica recording many singles that have hit the ground running such as 'Million Dollar Man.' I did a song with Chronixx that people are anticipating. I'll be getting back in the studio with Khaled and the Cash Money family real soon so it's even bigger things in 2013."
Mavado's latest single, the sensuous, dancehall-pop flavored "Take It" featuring Karian Sang, was released in late December by the Miami-based digital reggae label Zojak Worldwide. Produced by Troy "Troyton" Hinds and Michael "Askhell" Fairman for Troyton Music, "Take It" has topped two dancehall charts in England (BBC Radio 1 Xtra, Choice FM) and the Radio Dubplate chart on Toronto's CHRY 105.5 FM. Veteran reggae club/radio DJ King Waggy T of WEDR-99 Jamz, Miami, who often broadcasts from Fort Lauderdale's Club Iguana, says "Take It" has garnered enthusiastic responses from his radio audience and is a dance floor favorite at Iguana.
"We have spent a lot of time building Mavado's brand and profile in the mainstream and we think he is more popular than ever," notes Mavado's manager Julian Jones-Griffith. "'Take It' is perfect because it has a wide appeal for the large audience at his beckoning."
Karian Sang is the first artist signed to Mavado's independent label, Mansion Records. "We will be releasing songs of hers, doing everything a label does to develop an artist's career," Mavado says, who launched the imprint in 2011 with his own dancehall pop ditty, "Delilah." Mavado's biggest hits over the past few years including "Star Boy," "Come Into My Room" and now "Take It" cast the artist as a party loving ladies man, overshadowing the sullen "gangster for life" guise and turbulent imagery of his early singles including the haunting "Weh Dem a Do," which reached No. 27 on the Hot R&B Hip Hop Chart and featured on Mavado's debut album "Gangsta for Life…The Symphony of David Brooks" (VP Records), a compelling thug narrative which peaked at No. 6 on the Top Reggae Albums chart. Mavado's second album "Mr. Brooks A Better Tomorrow" (VP) debuted atop the Reggae Album tally in March 2009.
While the debates surrounding Mavado's music have subsided recently, his real life controversies are as plentiful as his hit songs. Also known as the Gully Gad -- a reference to the tough Kingston community of Cassava Piece, bordered by a gully, where he was raised -- Mavado made international headlines for his rivalry with dancehall artist Vybz Kartel leader of the artists' consortium called Gaza, which was taken beyond the musical realm by overzealous fans of each artist; the Gully-Gaza feuds raged throughout 2009 until the two artists publicly made peace in December. In April 2010, Mavado and four other dancehall stars including his mentor Bounty Killer had their U.S. visas revoked, en masse, without explanation. In May 2011, Mavado's close friend Conroy Edwards was shot by a policeman as they entered a Kingston nightclub, reportedly refusing a standard entry search; Mavado was charged for assault and Edwards died several days later. Two months later, Mavado and his entourage were charged with attacking a man and his son in a road rage incident following his performance at Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay. In February 2013, an officer with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, David J. Rainsberger, pled guilty to accepting bribes from Mavado as the entertainer sought to regain his US visa, which was reinstated in July 2011. Following their lawyer's directive Mavado and his management wouldn't comment on the Visa situation. Addressing his controversy-plagued career Mavado said, "God himself knows what's up and I leave all judgements to Him."
Meanwhile, a forthcoming track "Rise Up" featuring DJ Khaled and Rick Ross is likely first single from Mavado's WTB/YMCMB album. Now aligned with a powerful hip-hop conglomerate, Mavado nonetheless has pledged allegiance to the music that birthed his career. "All my glory comes from dancehall and right now I want to take dancehall to another level," he declared. "When I look back at my journey and all that I want to do, trust me, it's like I haven't even started yet."