Mavado, ‘Gangsta for Life: The Symphony of David Brooks’ (VP)
It’s a good thing Mavado sounds so miserable. If he didn’t, the dancehall don’s debut — a barrage of drum-and bass-heavy tunes about guns, guns, and more guns — might become just another bloated, repetitive exercise in glorified clichés. Instead, the product of Kingston’s “Cuba” ghetto has a nihilistic half-sung, half-chatted flow — part plaintive wail, part angry moan — that transforms brutally boastful lyrics like “they fear me” and “marrow will fly” into mournful, hypnotic laments. On the Tupac-indebted “Don’t Cry,” Mavado, whose dad was murdered, practically pleads with his mother over incessant, martial drums.