Tag Archives: Popcaan

Soothing and fun on Popcaan’s Forever

unnamedJamaican singer Popcaan has come from being Vybz Kartel’s protege to a superstar in his own right. He broke big in 2010 when he joined Vybz Kartel and Gaza Slim on the nowadays classic Clarks tune. It was followed by a stream of singles and collaborations and his debut Where We Come From was put out in 2014.

That set was produced by NYC’s Dre Skull and he’s also in charge of Popcaan’s second album Forever, a 17 track set where the duo presents a tasty blend of dancehall, pop, reggae, R&B and electro.

In the Jamaican singles-based industry an album could be a collection of singles, but Forever is more than a collection of songs. It’s a cohesive body of work that bubbles with emotion and struggles and Popcaan is both care-free and introspective and spiritual. But it’s not really raw and gritty, it’s rather polished and clean, although lyrically Popcaan can be on the slack side. It’s sex rather than romance.

His expressive voice if often soaked with Auto-Tune, but it still works pretty well. The melodies are infectious and the choruses are catchy. He’s at his best in the deep and powerful Firm & Strong, on which he is joined by a 20 person choir. The last minute or so is pure goosebumps.

Dancehall is everywhere these days and Popcaan has toured with Drake and collaborated with both Jamie XX and Gorillaz. And hopefully this album can help to further elevate dancehall and his career.

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Lucas DiPasquale graduates from Youtube

unnamedCanadian youthful Youtube sensation Lucas DiPasquale made a name for himself recording acoustic Popcaan mash-ups and putting them on Youtube. His clips exploded and a major label contract has now kick-started his dreams.

His first effort on Universal was the excellent single Do It Like, a combination with Stylo G, Kardinal Offishall and Konshens. And his debut EP features two new combinations – one with rockstone deejay Assassin aka Agent Sasco and one with Popcaan himself.

Post-Secondary is produced by acclaimed Jamaican dancehall producer Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor, son of legendary Jamaican vocalist Freddie McGregor, and Mojam. It hosts five tracks, of which one is an acoustic live version of Do It Like, and was recorded between Canada, Jamaica and the UK.

That four of the biggest artists on the dancehall scene is collaborating with Lucas DiPasquale says something about his Universal’s hopes for him, but also something about his artistic abilities. He’s a solid singer that nails his patois and hooks, but he’s nonetheless outshined by his Jamaican and British contemporaries, especially Konshens who absolutely murders the last verse in Do It Like.

Post-Secondary is dancehall for the charts and Lucas DiPasquale might be able to make some cross-over success.

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Blown away by Popcaan’s debut album

Popcaan-cover-art-final-650x650Popcaan’s debut album Where We Come From is an extraordinary dancehall album. It’s surprisingly consistent and perfectly tailored for Popcaan’s youthful and bright singing style.

For those of you who doesn’t already know about Popcaan, he’s like the heir of Vybz Kartel’s Portmore Empire. He became a global reggae phenomenon in 2010 when he made an appearance on Kartel’s monster hit Clarks, and he has since dropped hit after hit after hit. Many of them being upbeat and pounding dancehall, often with a clear melody, such as Ravin’ and Only Man She Want.

Where We Come From is something completely different compared to what Popcaan has put out before. The set is produced by NYC’s Dre Skull with support from Dubbel Dutch, Jamie VYP, Anju Blax and Adde Instrumentals. Popcaan and Dre Skulle have previously worked together on riddims such as Kling Klang and Loudspeaker, the latter supports Popcaan’s hard-hitting The System, which pops up on the album.

This is evocative and almost cinematic slow-rolling dancehall with electro blasts and beautiful melodies. Popcaan sings his ghetto tales over dark beats with deep bass lines. Sometimes it gets optimistic though, like the distant xylophone echoing in and out on the otherwise melancholic Ghetto (Tired of Crying). That particular cut also has an unexpected and hopeful finale.

Best of the 13 tracks are however the anthemic Where We Come From and album opener Hold On, two of Popcaan’s best efforts to date.

Where We Come From is truly remarkable and an exceptional and unique dancehall effort that hopefully can start a new trend in the otherwise very busy and non-consistent dancehall industry.

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Finally time for Popcaan’s debut album

Dancehall singer Popcaan got his break a few years ago when he appeared on Vybz Kartel’s monster smash single Clarks. From then on he has delivered a number of popular singles and cuts from one riddim albums. My personal favourite is The System on U.S. house producer Dre Skull’s Loudspeaker riddim.

And finally Popcaan is on the way to drop his debut album Where We Come From, with Dre Skull serving as executive producer.

The sultry lead single Everything Nice was put out a while ago, and now it’s time for the second single off the anticipated album, that will be out on June 10.

Love Yuh Bad pairs Popcaan’s signature melodiousness and catchy rhythmic flow with skipping percussion and driving strings. It might be that Popcaan’s debut album will be in the same vein as the Vybz Kartel’s Kingston Story, a slow and electro-flavoured set produced by Dre Skull.

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Discover the contemporary Jamaican dancehall scene

Noisey – a music site curated by Vice – recently went to Jamaica to explore the culture and people behind the contemporary dancehall scene. The documentary is executive produced by the recently reincarnated Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion and hosted by Vice Media producer Codine Williams, and includes great footage of Jamaica today and interviews with dancehall newcomers and veterans, such as the incarcerated Vybz Kartel, his protégé Popcaan and Lady Saw.

In the first episode Codine Williams visits Gaza, the Kingston area made famous by Vybz Kartel, to meet his crew and get people’s perspective on the controversial dancehall icon.

The second episode focuses largely on Popcaan and also glimpses into Jamaican club culture and its provocative fashion.

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Half-year report – 15 favorite tunes

I’m not a big fan of contemporary dancehall. It’s too often poorly produced, poorly mixed and poorly mastered without tasteful and turbulent bass lines. Instead you get an overuse of auto-tune and boring generic beats.

But things might have changed in the course of just a couple of months. I don’t know if my music taste has changed, but there have been a rather large amount of exceptional dancehall tunes and riddims for the first six months of 2012.

The one drop scene has of course also produced its fair share of excellent cuts and riddims. Several from Europe, and often voiced by Jamaican conscious singers and deejays. UK-based producers Frenchie, Mafia & Fluxy and Curtis Lynch have all released great material this year. Same goes for Swiss production team Weedy G Sound Force.

When browsing through the reggae and dancehall year so far you soon realize which two artists rule the scene at the moment – Tarrus Riley and Popcaan. This is also reflected in my list with 15 favorite tracks for the first six months of 2012, listed below.

All tunes have been released as singles or as part of a one riddim compilation. Tracks appearing on a full-length single artist album have been ruled out.

Song title – artist (label – riddim)

Capital Offence – Captain Sinbad (Maximum Sound – Rudebwoy be Nice)

Selecta – Rayvon (Ranch Ent. – Kingston 13)

Final Move – Cornadoor & Kabaka Pyramid (Weedy G Soundforce)

Original Dancehall Days – Starkey Banton (Mafia & Fluxy – Bun n’ Cheese)

We Run It –Tarrus Riley (Charlie Pro)

Chant Rastafari – Tarrus Riley (Maximum Sound – Most Royal)

Go Down – Machel Montano (Mixpak – Loudspeaker)

It’s a Party – Elephant Man & Tarrus Riley (Romeich – Stinking Link)

Shots – Voicemail (Akom – Full Swing)

No Barbershop – Conkarah (Lifeline – Rock Fort Rock)

Badmind a Kill Dem – Popcaan (UPT 007 – Juicy)

Chill Spot – Chris Martin (Chimney – Chill Spot)

Independent Ladies – Gaza Slim (TJ – Summer Wave)

Blood Thirsty – Jah Mali (Necessary Mayhem – Possessed)

Fire Fire – Capleton (Dynasty – Kush Morning)

Curious on the tunes? Check out this Spotify playlist with twelve of them.

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