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Mr. Vegas Plans To Re-Record ‘Heads High’ To Regain Ownership Of Master

February 22nd, 2024

Dancehall artist Mr. Vegas says he plans to re-record his 1998 hit Heads High, aiming to take control of the song’s masters—a move prompted by his lack of primary ownership when the song was first released.

“Most of the songs that I did in the earlier part of my career were licensed out to record labels overseas, who in turn paid the producers for the masters. It is a situation whereby if I want to outrightly own the master then I have to create a new master,” he told DancehallMag in an interview.

So by creating a new master now, I can upload the songs that I performed, redo the beats and create back the sound and sing over the songs so it will give me control of the master. So I will in turn upload it to all the digital platforms,” added Vegas, whose real name is Clifford Smith.

Produced by Danny Browne, Heads High has sold over 500,000 units worldwide, including 200,000 units in the United Kingdom, where it was certified Silver in 2020. The song was released on Browne’s Filthy Riddim, which also featured other hits like Beenie Man’s Let Him Go, Lady G’s Breeze Off, and Buccaneer’s Tek It Easy.

It later appeared on Vegas’ Heads High album, released under Greensleeves Records.

In 2020, Vegas filed a lawsuit against VP Records (which had acquired Greensleeves), alleging copyright infringement and unpaid royalties, among other things, on Heads High, Hot Wuk, Sucky Ducky, and several other songs.

The lawsuit was settled before trial last year.

Vegas did not comment on the matter but explained that the allocation of profits back then had benefited the record label(s) more than it did him, so with a remastered track, he can now maximize earnings fully.

“The royalties split back then was like 16 % or 17% that was given to the artist or the performer but now we are in the digital era. Before the digital era they used to take into consideration the pressing and all the work they had to do that made up the manufacturing cost such as burning, pressing, they took into consideration all they had to do, they factored all of that in and gave us royalties for the 16/17 percent,” he said.

“Now that we are in the digital era they no longer do any form of manufacturing, what is happening now things like cds and vinyls are not in use anymore so the record labels were technically getting 80 something person or 90 something per cent based on what was in a contract, now that we are in the digital era and I redo the master I am getting 100% and I in turn will pay the mechanicals and pay the other writers,” he explained.

“So similarly how the producers usually just regarded us as writers, now I’m flipping the script and I am looking at them as writers because they wrote the beat, so I’m redoing what they wrote and I am putting in what I came to the board with which is the lyrics and the melody and this is all because the Jamaica music law is not yet clarified by the government. It was supposed to be clarified by the government who had signed on to the Berne Convention as a signatory because the Berne Convention should be used to interpret the law but the law is vague, so producers continue to exploit recording artists in Jamaica,” he said.

Mr. Vegas

Mr. Vegas assured fans that the remastering process will not dilute nor tarnish the legacy of the track, and he’s confident that it will be just as successful as the original recording.

“It’s like if I were to do a cover song and I was to sing over an R and B song and I was to redo the whole thing then it becomes like a cover, an adaptation, so technically I am adapting my own self. So once I go out and do many alterations then it is no longer an adaptation so I cannot take a Stevie Wonder song and change the melody and change the lyrics and change the beat and then call it an adaptation,” he reasoned.

Heads High all time streams is 41 million streams on Spotify and this is Heads High not on the Head Highs album but Heads High on Hits Of Mr. Vegas that was released on VP Records so I want to cut into this market, these streams. How do I do this? By putting up myself to compete with myself but then my children down the line ten, fifteen years from now, they will be able to get better royalties because they will be in more control of the masters,” he noted.

Though the benefits are appealing, he explained that he will not be remastering all the songs he recorded in the early stages of his career.

“Not all of the songs but the ones thar are hit songs like Heads High and Hot Gal Today well to remaster Hot Gal Today would be more difficult because Sean Paul is on it so unless I’m going to use a deejay to redo Sean Paul’s part which I can,” he shared.

“Currently the Heads High album is not up though it was a very popular album, it did well but currently it is not up because the agreement that I had with Greensleeves Records expired and because Heads High has been licensed for some many different compilations you find that the streams are all over the place so everybody has a slice of the Head Highs cake so now I’m going for my slices of their slices,” he said.

He said he is undecided if he will introduce new visuals to complement the remastered classic.

“It depends inno because sometimes you re release a record after remastering it and the beat may sound fatter and it may include some drum patterns weh a thump inna the club more, so you never can tell. Heads High is just a classic, I’m just redoing the classic, I know I still have the vocals to re sing it but I cannot go back in time to look back young again in the video, I cant do that,” he shared.

Mr. Vegas also admitted that he is not worried about fan reactions to a remastered Heads High even though the music has changed to give acceptance to things that were once considered taboo when the record first hit the airwaves.

Heads High was never just about the lyrics and the lyrics was never just about anti oral sex lyrics. Heads High is more of an uplifting tune. The song came about when one of my niece’s came home from school and told me about a girl and a guy who did some things under a school desk so it’s nit just about that,” he reasoned.

At the same time, he did admit that because the dancehall culture has somewhat changed, he had to acquiesce to the changing perspectives and retire one of his other hits, Hands Up.

That’s why Hands Up isn’t performed anymore because most of the people I will stand up before to perform are now open to oral pleasures so that I had to retire but Heads High is more than just saying don’t give oral pleasures,” he said.

The remastered track will be released this year, Vegas said.

This content was originally sourced and posted at DancehallMag »
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