He cites the music of Bounty Killer as an early influence. The boyhood idol became his mentor when at the age of 15, Bounty took him under his wing to show him the ropes of the music industry and introduced him to his manager, dancehall music business legend Julian Jones-Griffith, who would go on to manage Mavado’s illustrious career. He decided to name himself “Mavado” after the Swiss watch company Movado, with his manager altering the spelling.
Mavado’s first single, “Real McKoy”, was released in 2004 and was his breakthrough single. He further established himself with the follow-up record “Weh Dem a Do”, on the Red Bull & Guinness riddim, that had the distinction of hitting Billboard. After a string of hits in 2005 and 2006, Mavado released the album Gangsta for Life: The Symphony of David Brooks 10 July 2007 on VP Records. “Weh Dem A Do” and “Dying”, two singles from the album, were featured heavily on R&B/hip-hop radio in the US and around the world.
That same year brought Mavado off-stage controversy, as he was unlawfully detained by Jamaican police. While in police custody, the singer claims he was thrown through a glass window, slicing three fingers in the process, which were sewn up at a local hospital. Police claimed Mavado escaped from custody, even though they let him walk out of the police station and go to the hospital with his manager. He was later arrested and charged with shooting with intent and illegal possession of firearm in relation to an event occurring 27 July 2007. He was later freed of all charges.
In March 2008, Mavado was featured performing a rendition of his song “Real McKoy” for Grand Theft Auto IV Trailer #4 “Everyone’s a Rat”. “Real McKoy”, along with “Last Night” (both from the album Gangsta for Life), were also featured in the game on the radio station “Massive B Radio”.
In 2008 Mavado was given the prestigious UK MOBO Award for Best Reggae Act.
Mavado formed his own label, Mansion Records, in 2011, which debuted with the single “Delilah” that was given mainstream US radio rotation. Along with Bounty Killer, he has cited 2Pac as a childhood idol, comparing the late rapper’s life to his own.
On 1 September 2011, Mavado appeared on the Angie Martinez show on New York’s Hot 97 radio station to announce that he had signed a deal with DJ Khaled‘s record label We the Best Music Group. Mavado released three singles “Emergency” featuring Ace Hood, Soulja girl and “Survivor” featuring Akon on We the Best Music Group.
In May 2012 he was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and malicious destruction of property after a driving incident, and was fined a total of $100,000. An appeal against the sentence was unsuccessful.
In 2016, Mavado’s song “Progress” on The Mineral Boss Records Produced “Money Boss Riddim” was featured in DJ Khaled‘s “Major Key” album. a 14 track album. The album is nominated for the 2017 Grammy Awards on the “best rap” album category.