The dancehall genre is heavy on singles and one riddim compilations and single artist full-length albums are few and often far between. But this year two of dancehall’s up and coming superstars have dropped their debut sets.
Popcaan and Jah Vinci have both been members of Vybz Kartel’s Portmore Empire. In June Popcaan dropped his electro-fused Where We Come From and a month later Jah Vinci dropped his dancehall-oriented Ghetto Born.
Jah Vinci has since he emerged on the scene in 2008 delivered several hits, for example Wipe Those Tears, Remedy, Gawn Home and Mama Love. All fuelled with his electric and intense vocal style.
Ghetto Born collects only fresh material and is mainly produced by Khabir Bonner of Grillaras Productions, probably best known for Lutan Fyah’s excellent Life of a King released last year. Also involved in the project are Tariq “Nashi” Smith and Xavier “Bless X” Prendergast from Kamau Music.
Jah Vinci focuses on the tough side of life – crime, violence and poverty. He tells stories about living in the ghetto and how to break barriers rising to success. And it’s his story – growing up with violence on the streets and how he managed to overcome hardships becoming a global dancehall artist.
The set includes 13 tracks, of which two are combinations with Junior Reid and Beenie Man respectively. Best of the bunch are however hip-hop excursions like We Taking Over – with a Barrington Levy sample floating in and out of the mix – and Rude Boys and Police. But also the melancholic and acoustic title track.
Popcaan and Jah Vinci chose different paths for their debut albums. Popcaan’s set might appeal more to U.S. and European hipsters looking for the next dancehall sound. Jah Vinci’s album, on the other hand, is more Jamaica and leans towards traditional contemporary dancehall with clear hip-hop influences. Two sets with different approaches. And their mentor Vybz Kartel should be proud of both his protégées.