Mavado: Original Gangster

It’s the gangster disposition of Reggae music’s “Real McKoy” Mavado that had ghettos from Cassava Piece, Jamaica, to Brooklyn’s notorious ’90s streets chanting “Anywaaayeeeeeeee” in unison before the remainder of the globe eventually caught on. The lyrics were raw, the sound was haunted, the flow was hard, and the flex was rougher than rough. Something […]

Win A $75 Giftcard To Footlocker

It’s the gangster disposition of Reggae music’s “Real McKoy” Mavado that had ghettos from Cassava Piece, Jamaica, to Brooklyn’s notorious ’90s streets chanting “Anywaaayeeeeeeee” in unison before the remainder of the globe eventually caught on. The lyrics were raw, the sound was haunted, the flow was hard, and the flex was rougher than rough. Something like the Reggae singjay version of Tupac and Biggie, but as Mavado says, “with a lot more melody.”Mavado, from Kingston’s gully side, demanded to be heard back in 2004 when his debut single “Real McKoy” set the foundation for his musical genius to erupt – reaffirming that he was the missing unfiltered ingredient the culture has been longing for some time now. Society’s underdog rose above adversity, the death of his beloved father, hundreds of stitches in his left hand, and a corrupt Jamaican government that repeatedly blame his revolutionary lyrics for the rise of crime on the island.  Whether he’s “Dreaming” one day or “Dying” the next, music’s “Amazing Grace” has blessed us with an angel. David Constantine Brooks – it’s time to meet the man behind the Alternatives: Clarify things for critics who immediately assume because you make music for the gangsters, that you are a ruthless killer from the ghetto with no education or any compassion for the people you are impacting via your music?Mavado: Critics is always gonna be there. It’s just for you as the individual not to get so paranoid about it. I try to keep my cool, mind control mon…I went to Charlie Smith High School in Arnett Gardens. I am from the streets, but I’m also educated from the streets. You got a lot of youths in the streets who are very educated…so many subjects, so many things, and they still in the streets. Most people don’t know you, but they try to say the worse things about you; they never try to build you, they always try to break you down. Look at me. People always say I’m in prison, wanted, been shot up. When I’m at my house, with my daughter and my son and my mom and my girlfriend…and people out there talking and don’t even know where I am.AHHA: You got into an altercation with Jamaican police (September 06’) that resulted in the severe injury of your left hand, causing rumors to circulate, questioning your “gangsta for life” motto. What certifies you as a gangsta? Are you proud of that?Mavado: My personality, the life I’m living…me and my friends been through so many things man, a lot of stress, a lot of bad times. We came out at the end of the day and made it by just being who we are. It’s not easy, trust me, it’s not really an easy road. The cops tryin’ to kill we, enemies na really wan fi see mi make it…den mi hafi survive throughout every day and every minute and every second. Gangsta fi life…AHHA: So it’s not necessarily something you’re proud of, it’s just who you are?Mavado: Just who I am…AHHA: You came up under the wing of Bounty Killer, and not too long ago there was talk about the two of you warring; is there any truth behind that?Mavado: Me and Bounty Killer could never have a problem! I’ve never risen against Killa and Killa will never rise against me. I’ve been around Killa from before 3/4 of these people around him. I’ve been around Killa for like 11-12 years now, from going to school. So all of these rumors, it’s just a certain set of people trying to infiltrate things against me and Killa, and I always tell dem Killa a mi dads and nothing can’t change that. So the relationship between me and Killa is more than even music; it’s a family.AHHA: How about Vybz Kartel?Mavado: I don’t want to talk about that…AHHA: I understand that you make songs for the gangsters, but why do you promote so much violence in your music?Mavado: I don’t promote violence. I talk it the way it is…I never promote violence. If I go there and say, “Weh dem a do…weh dem a try…marrow will fly-ay-ay into the sky [lyrics from “Weh Dem A Do”].” It’s something that’s happening out there in the world, don’t it?  So I’m just talking about what’s really happening.AHHA: So then how about “Top shotta nah miss, dem she we a rise crime” (from “Top Shotta Nah Miss”). Isn’t that glorifying shooting, Mavado that’s violence?Mavado: Babes, babes if I’m saying, “Top shotta does not miss” don’t you got top cops in the game?  They are not promoting violence for killing, but they are top cops and they are doing their work.  To be a top cop, you gotta do a lot of things; you have to shoot a lot of people, don’t it?AHHA: Are you afraid of death?Mavado: Am I afraid of death?  I can’t be afraid of something I can’t see. Are you?AHHA: No, I feel like your time comes when it comes, and there is nothing I can do to prevent that. I just have to live a righteous life while I’m here, so no, I’m not afraid of death. Let’s talk about your album. The skits you use as interludes are very entertaining and add even more reality to your album, similar to Biggie’s classic Ready to Die. Was that your inspiration?Mavado: The livity is real just like the music!  Even when I’m gone, the G is gonna remain…I have to thank the creator for that. But Pac is like my idol, I been listening to Tupac since 1991 [2Pacalypse Now].AHHA: Would you put yourself in the same category as Big and Pac, but of course the reggae version?Mavado: …with a lot more melody. People put Mavado in that category, but not necessarily me. I didn’t get up and say I want to be like Big or Pac, I’m just who I am.AHHA: On your Tupac inspired tune “Dying” you repeatedly ask to be prayed for. Do you want salvation from this lifestyle?Mavado: I always wanna be prayed for. In the mist of this life that I’m living, I need to be prayed for. Throughout everything, the worse things, people blame Mavado. AHHA: Why is that?  Why do you think you are being targeted?Mavado: I don’t know. To me, most of it is because of bad minded people. They all know I’m from the ghetto, from the gully. They know I’m rising, they know I’m inNew York. I’m in “Gaylhattan.” You call it Manhattan, I call it “Gaylhattan.” I’m here doing this interview. My album is in stores, and still everybody know me as just the lickle David from off the gully. So eventually, haters and envy, bad mind is gonna be in it.AHHA: Does your appearance frighten people?Mavado: Yes, but I don’t know why…AHHA: Do you think your image is going to be both the success and demise of your career beause you’re “too real” and not willing to tone it down?Mavado: I don’t know…might be yes and might be no…AHHA: Do you care?Mavado: No, ‘cause it’s not like I’m the one who set it like that. They are the ones. People always rise against me. If someone is going to rise against me, then I’m going to rise against them. What kind of adjustments to my lyrics, to my image, to my message do they expect me to make? I can’t make any adjustments, because what I’m living is real. It’s not like all these things that’s reaching me, I’m the one who cause it. Nobody wanna be locked up in jail. I don’t wish that on anybody.AHHA: So does your religious background and spirituality help keep you grounded when things get destructive?Mavado: Yes, it also helps…most of my youthful days growing up were in the church with my grandma. She was the first person who gave me a voice projector and a mic and said “sing.” And I was like four…so my grandma knew I was born to be a singer. AHHA: You big up the ‘90s in Brooklyn a lot on your album. Why?  What connection do you have to that area?Mavado: Because that’s where I know, that’s where my friends are; I have a connection to those streets. When I just came to foreign, those are the first set of people to really show Mavado love. When my music just a start on the street level, that’s where my following was. They are the first set of persons that play Mavado. The ‘90s specifically, then the whole of Brooklyn. It’s the Garrison – the gully part of America. Don’t got a gully run through it like my place, but they all gangster boys and gangster girls, and I do songs to represent the gangsters. Whatever time dem see Mavado, dem seeing themselves.AHHA: Finally, what advice would you give to youth trying to make it out of the ghetto, so they won’t travel down the same road and make the same mistakes you made? We always need to help the next generation coming up. Mavado: Well sometimes no youth try to travel down the road of violence, hard living and suffering. ‘Cause if a youth try to make himself go down that road, then he wouldn’t have been an ambitious person.  So for all the youth them out there, going through all that which they didn’t choose to, keep ya head up! Hard work will keep you successful, and never make any one stop you from doing what you’re doing. Don’t make anyone discourage you, and don’t make you feel as if you shouldn’t do your work the way you wanna do it. Gangsta For Life!