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Stabroek News

Mavado: dancehall lovers/haters' fantasy
published: Sunday | April 27, 2008

Nathaniel Stewart/Freelance Photographer

Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer

"Me no gone noweh

Me deh yah same way

De gangster dey yah pon de gully side

If yu waan know whe fe fin' me"

- Mavado

David Constantine Brooks is in the best of places at the worst of times. And he seems to be everywhere (or not being allowed to go someplace) all at once.

He was prevented from entering the Unites States after being brought to book for gun charges in Jamaica, banned from a St Vincent performance and his often violently graphic lyrics deemed in various quarters as just about the closest thing to Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses.

That is just about the worst.

Musical rise

The almost unheard of has happened to Mavado, the approximation of the high-end timepiece by which David Brooks is more widely known.

His On The Rock has not only caught the attention of hip-hop mega star Jay-Z, but Beyoncé's husband (not a bad woman to be known by, if a man must be known by his connection with one), but the rapper has done an unsolicited remix.

But Mavado's musical magnitude, stunningly rapid since his 2005 breakthrough with Real McKoy, is not to be measured by the attention of a rapper.

It is to be gauged by the frenzy which greets his live appearances and songs from a youth population which has found its hero, poet and bard, the frequency with which his music pops out of speakers in cars, at bars and sound systems - and telephones, too.


Mavado is the dancehall lovers' and dancehall haters' fantasy.

For the lover (at least, those who can deal with his lyrics), Mavado's piercing, unforgettable voice, soaring languidly over rhythms after his trademark 'gangster for life' and then speeding up effortlessly though not losing a smidgen of clarity as he destroys all notions of distinctions between deejaying and singing are all they could ever hope for.

For the hater, he is the ultimate target; young, black, from the Cassava Piece 'gullyside', calmly informing "infrared upon him head it was de las' sight" and dismissing any thoughts of a song's sanctity.

And the run-in with the law does not hurt either.

It is this run-in that, at the moment, seems will prevent him from going to New York in June for what would have been a call-up on stage by Jay-Z, at one point unthinkable for a youth from the 'gullyside'.

It is, after all, the best of times in the worst of places.

And, yes, David Brooks is 27 years old.

Early years

An hour with Mavado rambles through his early years (he was called 'Master David Brooks' when he was singing in church at Grant's Pen when four or five years old), his hook-up with Bounty Killer ("a me general"), Red Stripe's withdrawal from live music events, his family (he points to a very good relationship with his now deceased father) and, among many other things, the graphic nature of his lyrics.

The Sunday Gleaner asked how he got the name Mavado.

"Yu know how me really come fe sey Mavado, a me fren Flexx, him gi me a watch mark Movado. Me sey da name yah bad, eh? An de space come till me start sey Mavado, an' Killer sey 'No, yu cyaa name Movado like de watch, yu haffi put a changes to it.' An we jus' sey aright den, we jus' sey Mavado. Mos' people might no think a Mavado, mos' people might tink a Movado," he said.

The Sunday Gleaner asks if the watch people have ever said anything to him and Mavado, who is calm and contemplative throughout the interview, says "Mmm, mmm. Cause me no name Movado. Me name Mavado. Yu understan?"

As for the trademark 'gangster for life', he says: "How me come wid de tagline, as a artis' an yu a come inna de business, yu haffi come wid yu own ting. We deh pon de gully every day an dem ting deh. An yu know mos' inn de gully yu hear de yute dem talk bout gangster an dem talk bout dis an' dem talk bout dat. Dat's how we come up an we talk bout gangster for life, see it."

When asked how long he has been saying it, Mavado says "Couple years well, man, couple years."

Continues this week in THE STAR with Mavado's really early years.

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