Popcaan’s debut album, Where We Come From, will be released on Mixpak on June 10th! Executive produced by Dre Skull the album features production from Dre Skull, Dubbel Dutch, Jamie Roberts, Anju Blaxx and Adde Instrumentals. Popcaan’s first full length offering sees his signature melodies and uplifting tones on thirteen original tracks. As musicologist Wayne Marshall writes in his essay on the album,
“Where We Come From gives voice, as the best reggae does, to the contradictions of life in a society rife with inequities and yet so rich. Whether odes to the ghetto or the good life, Popcaan’s lyrics bring realist portraits and utopian visions into dynamic tension. Songs about struggle and sex and happiness occupy the same space because they do. And whatever the topic, Popcaan’s infectious positivity comes through.”
While his former mentor Vybz Kartel has been locked up, Popcaan has kept the torch aloft, rising to the top of the dancehall field behind bars of a different sort: the verses and hooks that have made him a favorite from Jamaica to Japan.
Building on the buzz that began with his star turn on Kartel’s 2010 smash “Clarks,” Portmore’s new native son has since made a name for himself with local hits like “Ravin” and “Clean” and international anthems like “Party Shot” and “Only Man She Want,” the latter crossing over to Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop charts and inspiring Busta Rhymes to add a verse. Filling shoes once occupied by Shabba, Beenie, and Sean Paul, Popcaan has become the premier reggae vocalist for cool-and-deadly collabos with hip-hop’s finest: his 2013 feature on Pusha T’s “Blocka” was also sampled by Kanye for a track on Yeezus. Another sure sign of resonance, the singjay’s trademark Yaow! has become a standard drop for mixtape and radio DJs from Kingston to Brooklyn. Now in 2014, Popcaan gets his due as a breakout artist with a debut album aimed at dancehall devotees and the iTunes massive alike.
In turns uplifting and haunting, reverent and rude, Where We Come From gives voice, as the best reggae does, to the contradictions of life in a society rife with inequities and yet so rich. Whether odes to the ghetto or the good life, Popcaan’s lyrics bring realist portraits and utopian visions into dynamic tension. Songs about struggle and sex and happiness occupy the same space because they do. And whatever the topic, Popcaan’s infectious positivity comes through.
Like his predecessors in crossover without compromise, Popcaan appeals to listeners outside of Jamaica precisely because he brings a distinctively Jamaican voice to the proceedings. In a world gone global, Popcaan occupies that sweet space of possibility where a deeply local accent communicates to outernational listeners. With his patois lyrics, plainspoken and poetic, his own takes on the latest slang, and his vowels stretched in that Portmore twang, Popcaan is unapologetically uberlocal in address. But since dancehall is itself a globe-spanning style and symbolic code, Popcaan’s performances are also pitched to the world. For all the downhome detail, nuff translates—and plenty comes across in universal terms: hustle for the money, too damn evil, everything is nice.
Nimble with the syllables, sometimes Popcaan’s flow nods to Kartel’s fluid flip-tongue tumble, while elsewhere his badman balladeering recalls a modern wailer like Mavado. As a vocalist who can rap (or deejay, in reggae parlance) as well as sing, Popcaan is a singjay par excellence—a winning combination in a global pop culture remade by the likes of Akon, Drake, and other hip-hop/R&B stars who bring a sing-song lilt to their performances.