Clifford Smith was born in Kingston in 1974. The moniker “Mr. Vegas” was given to Smith by his schoolyard football-mates, who thought that he kicked the ball like a Las Vegas dancer. In his early years as a singjay, Vegas sang covers of Jamaican hits at local parties and shows, and acquired a reputation as a troublemaker for his lyrics. During a scuffle over stolen master tapes, Vegas was hit in the face with a crowbar and had his jaw wired shut for six weeks. Vegas claims that, after hearing Beenie Man‘s hit “Who Am I”, he immediately demanded that his still-healing jaw be unwired, changing his speech pattern but allowing him to practice toasting.
He found fame in 1998 with hits such as “Yu Sure”, “Jack It Up”, and “Latest News”. For his first major hit, Vegas versioned the wildly popular “Playground” Riddim (Sean Paul‘s “Infiltrate” among others) to create “Nike Air”, which became a huge hit in Jamaica. The next single, “Heads High”, with an anti-oral sex lyric, followed its success in Jamaica with a chart run in the UK and a No. 69 peak on the US R&B chart, and Vegas became increasingly in demand as a guest artist by acts such as Sean Paul.
In 1998 his debut album, Heads High, was released, which hit No. 5 on the US Reggae chart. Vegas won a MOBO for Best Reggae Artist for the Heads High album as well. 2000’s single “Hot Gal Today” was a minor hit on the US R&B charts, peaking at No. 66. In 2001, he issued Damn Right, featuring guest appearances from Shaggy and Big Yard; this album went to No. 2 on the US Reggae chart. 2004 saw the release of the Pull Up LP, and the title track scraped the bottom of the Billboard Top 200, peaking at No. 98 (as well as No. 68 on the R&B chart). In 2006 he did a Soca collaboration with Machel Montano, Dance With You on Machel’s B.O.D.Y. album. His latest, 2007’s Hot It Up, featured the Jamaican hits “Hot Wuk”, “Taxi Fare” and “Tek Weh Yuhself”. In 2008 Mr. Vegas also recorded “On The Floor” with Trinidadian artiste Destra Garcia on her album, Soca or Die.