Mavado Talks Vybz Kartel Incarceration, Popcaan Collabo, Death Theats, Sting And More [Exclusive Interview]

In 2004 Mavado made his dancehall debut with “Real McKoy,” a gritty single off the Anger Management Riddim. But it was his second single “Weh Dem A Do” released on the Red Bull & Guinness Riddim that really caught the attention of the masses.

Fast forward 8 years later and Mavado is a household name in dancehall worldwide. With his unique sound and delivery Mavado will no doubt go down in history as one of the best that ever did it.

But that success didn’t come easy. Through all the controversy, pain and disappointments, the man from Cassava Piece rise to the occasion to become a dominant force in the genre.

A large part of his career was dominated by his infamous feud with Vybz Kartel. A feud the gave birth to the Gully/Gaza era of dancehall and would lead to bitter rivalry not just between the two, but also between their massive fan base. The two artists were forced to call a truce in 2010 after some fans began to take things a bit too serious.

Last year Mavado’s camp was sent into shock when his close friend Connie Edwards was shot and killed during a nightclub incident in Kingston. Mavado says that incident was an assassination attempt on his life.

Mavado would go on to overcome a slew of legal troubles to score one of the biggest achievements of his career, inking a deal with DJ Khaled’s We The Best Music Group. Thanks to a deal between Cash Money Records (YMCMB) and We The Best Music, Mavado is now apart of one of the most influential label in hip hop.

The Gully Gad and his manager Julian Jones-Griffiths took time out of their busy schedule to talk with Urban Islandz about some of these topics including Vybz Kartel incarceration, Popcaan and Snoop Lion collaboration, recent death threats, and his upcoming performance at Sting 2012.

See interview below:

You signed with DJ Khaled’s We The Best Music Group last year and we saw Cash Money taking over that label. Is Mavado officially signed with Cash Money/Young Money?

Julian: Mavado is signed to We The Best Music, which is in turn signed to YMCMB so Mavado’s project and releases goes through the YMCMB machine and distribution deal.

There are talks around dancehall circles of a forthcoming album. Will fans get their desire of having a Mavado album in the near future?

Julian: At the moment we are focusing on recording and dropping strong singles. In these times there is no point trying to even set a release date for an album without at least a couple of strong singles that have done well chart/sales wise. Mavado has a song dropping in January called Rise Up featuring Akon and Rick Ross, that will be released by WTB/YMCMB. We’re going to give it a strong push and are aiming at making Rise Up an anthem which will help us further build the foundation for follow-up singles and then an album up the line. Its an extremely competitive business obviously so we will just keep making great records and releasing them until we feel the time is right to drop the album.

What are your thoughts on Vybz Kartel incarceration? Have you reached out to him?

Mavado: Done know, everyman’s journey is something they have to trod by themselves ultimately. Its always wise to try and control your own destiny as much as you can but I hope Adi soon do road so me and him can get back to a healthy musical rivallry.

There were some talks of collaboration with Popcaan and Snoop Lion. How that collaboration came about if there was one?

Mavado: I did a song with Snoop Lion for Snoop’s Reggae album. It was supposed to feature another iconic Dancehall act but for whatever reason that artist didnt get to do it, so Snoop ended up using a Popcaan verse he already had. Me did feel a little hijacked by that, as we already agreed who the other featured Dancehall act was going to be and Popcaan is not someone I would’ve considered doing a collabo with. But Snoop was on a Rasta and unity vibe and called me to explain why he wanted me to give my blessing to put Popcaan on the record. Me nuh fight the youths dem or young artists so me tell Snoop to go ahead.

Some of your fans were a bit unhappy with your long absence from Jamaican soil recently including your absence from Reggae Sumfest. What would you say to these fans?

Mavado: It was unfortunate that I missed Sumfest this year, it was the first time I missed it since mi buss, and I was just as disappointed as my fans believe me. But hopefully the absence mek the fans hearts grow fonder! I’ll be performing in Jamaica over the Christmas period so they will get to see me then.

On your recent returned to Jamaica, there were some rumors of you getting death threats. What can you tell us about that and can you assure your fans that you are safe and okay?

Mavado: Its not something I want to talk about too much but see dem try offa mi last year and kill mi friend Connie. I always mek sure Im secure so I just keeping focused on the positive tings in my life and my music and lef all the hatemongers to Jah.

Many of us in the dancehall genre see you as the next Shaggy and Sean Paul of dancehall. How do you see yourself measuring up to the commercial success of these two dancehall icons?

Mavado: Thats a big compliment and all I can do is just keep working towards that goal. Its a very different market place now than when Shaggy and Sean were able to sell millions of records. Even Rihanna finds it hard to sell a million albums. If we manage to sell millions of albums that would be great but its a different time now so we measure our success in other ways too. As Julian said we are focusing on singles and trying to broaden the fanbase.

No doubt your fans are looking forward to seeing you in action at Sting 2012. What do you have to say to these enthusiastic and loyal fans?

Mavado: They wont be disappointed! Sting is like a icon in Dancehall so even though we and the promoters sometimes have our differences its an event we try and support because there aren’t many stage shows left in Jamaica and I don’t see anyone stepping up to put on any new ones. Its tough economically to put on a show of that size so the ones that are out there trying to keep going we should try and support.