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Mavado Gangsta for Life-The Symphony of David Brooks

Mavado's voice strikes the perfect balance between melody and menace; it drips with sincerity without ever sounding maudlin. His debut album is peppered with his instantly recognizable catchphrases ("anyway" and "gangsta for life") and filled with his most successful singles of the past few years, including his 2004 breakout smash "Real McCoy." In addition to wicked gun tunes, the disc also showcases his intensely personal lyrics. On the haunting "Don't Cry," the native of Kingston's Cassava Piece gully implores his mother to hold her tears "even if them kill me," while on "Sadness," he openly mourns his slain father. On the energetic "Pon Di Gully Side," he addresses wars between artists, presumably a reference to his now-squashed beef with Vybz Kartel. And on "Amazing Grace," he gets bonus points for perhaps being the first dancehall artist ever to use the word "inveigle" in a badman tune.

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