Those initial hits landed Mad Cobra a shot with producer Donovan Germain
's high-profile Penthouse label, where he teamed with resident engineer/songwriter Dave Kelly
. "Yush" and "Gundelero" were enormous hits in 1990, breaking Mad Cobra into the big time; he also scored with a Beres Hammond
duet, "Feeling Lonely." His first album, Bad Boy Talk, appeared in 1991 and sold briskly; meanwhile, he continued to record for a variety of top producers over 1991-1992, landing hits like "O.P.P." (for King Jammy
), "Tek Him" (Bobby Digital
), and "Be Patient" (Sly & Robbie
). He soon became a phenomenon in the U.K. as well, topping the country's reggae singles chart five times during the period and working with some of that country's top dancehall producers. Even a storm of controversy over the stridently homophobic lyrics of "Crucifixion" failed to slow his momentum.
Mad Cobra's success earned him a major-label deal with Columbia, which had just watched Shabba Ranks
cross over to R&B audiences in America. Cobra's label debut, Hard to Wet, Easy to Dry, aimed for similar territory, especially the lead single, "Flex." A slinkier number built on a version of the Temptations
' "Just My Imagination," "Flex" was a major crossover hit in 1992; not only did it top the rap singles chart, it reached the Top Ten on the R&B charts, and nearly did likewise on the pop listings. The follow-up single, "Legacy," flopped, however, and Mad Cobra returned to recording chiefly for the Jamaican market over the next few years. Amid hotly contested rivalries with Ninjaman
and Buju Banton
, Cobra scored two major hits in 1993 with "Mek Noise" and "Matie Haffi Move." 1994 found him back at King Jammy
's studio for the Venom album and a series of hits that included "Fat and Buff," "Length and Bend," and his first foray into culturally conscious material, "Selassie I Rules."
Mad Cobra continued to record steadily over 1995, and the following year signed with Capitol for his second major-label album, Milkman. The salacious "Big Long John" was a minor crossover hit in America, though not on the level of "Flex." The album also featured a good-natured clash cut with Ninjaman
, "Sting Night." In the years that followed, Cobra's output slowed down substantially, though he did make some international noise in 1998 with "Guns High," a duet with Mr. Vegas
. Several compilations of his Jamaican recordings appeared over the years, often on VP, and he returned in 2001 with Cobra, an album of new material for Artists Only. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi