Album Review: Popcaan - Where We Come From
From Kingston to NY, from Jamaica to the world and from the Ghettos to the Clubs
From Vybz Kartel’s protéjé to one of Jamaica’s fastest rising stars in the Dancehall industry: Popcaan has long since managed to put his name on the world Dancehall map. Now he proudly presents his highly anticipated debut album Where We Come From and reaches out to conquer his homeland and the international Dancehall world even beyond the island of Jamaica. He teamed up with lead producer Dre Skull of New York’s Mixpak Records and bredren Dubbel Dutch and Anju Blaxx to produce the 13-tracks LP.
Not only does the album cover - that picture him in a wild hairstyle and hands fold in prayer - indicate his status somewhere in between the naughty ghetto kid Poppy/Unruly Boss and a grown-up leader, not to say prayer. But also does the album come up with a rich variety of songs, from club-capable party anthems as much as odes to the ghetto. Dirty lyrics and gangster talk, gun sound and sirens are just as much part of it as uplifting melodies and wise words
Filters and modern synth add a touch of Electronic Dance Music, House and Techno to the instrumentals, and engage with classic Reggae chords and Hip-Hop beats created by the drum patterns. All that results in a collection of Dancehall tracks with a strong tendency to global pop that indicates the album’s orientation to be played in international dance clubs.
Slow and echoing poundings of primal drums open the first track Hold On and suggest the sound of church gongs calling for a religious gathering. Preacher Popcaan drops his first, sermonizing words: "Yo Anju Blaxx/ tell di Ghetto yuth dem: Hold on/ one day will be free at last". He addresses the song to those who suffer from social injustice and exclusion, encouraging them to hold di faith inna di giddion. Solidarity to the poor and all the trials and troubles in the face of the system is also subject in one of Popcaan’s biggest tunes to date: The System (2012) on Dre Skull’s Loudspeaker Riddim is #5 on this LP.
Lead single Everything Nice (out since october 2013), featuring Mavado on the remix, expresses his gratefulness for life with all its diversity from suffering to pleasure and it goes out to all those who have to work and struggle hard for their survival. It also gives voice to the lost ones. "Refill yo cup/ Music a play till the speaker fuck up" makes his message clear. He lifts his cup to spend some quality time with friends and calls on appreciation of life, even though it is playing it hard on us. ‘Cause the end might come anytime. The melodic, uplifting sound of Everything Nice fits perfectly to the positive – though serious – vibe of the song. Various friends including Mavado, Gyptian, Jah Cure, Ace Hood and Dre Island besides others give their support to the official music video clip with a cameo appearance in the background.
Love Yuh Bad, Number One Freak, Waiting So Long and Addicted go out to the girls and show off Poppy’s macho side. Love and sex-themed lyrics in which he tries to seduce a girl by any skills possible (mostly money and flatteries) come along with wining melodies. Whereas in Love Yuh Bad his desire to be with a certain girl is rather sexual intentioned, he shows some serious interests to settle down in Waiting So Long.
The title track and leadoff song Where We Come From reflects Popcaan’s personal life story from the dump land to the charts. It tells the story from St. Thomas where he grew up, to the encounter with the World Boss Vybz Kartel in Portmore and further on where he’s now: Living his dream to the fullest. The song highlights how strong he is tied to his roots in Jamaica "Real thugs never forget the dump land, where me come from….".
The fact that besides Dancehall, he takes a pleasure in Hip-Hop isn’t new. Collabos with US-Rappers like Busta Rhymes and Snoop Dogg have gained him international recognition in the past years. Where We Come From has a lot to offer for Hip-Hop fans, whereby Popcaan paves his path further on to the US-market and Billboard charts. Hustle featuring Pusha T and Cool It are two of those tracks rather appealing to Hip-Hop fans and will leave the Dancehall listener’s interest most likely rather unimpressed. Instead, above discussed tunes come up with a much greater conviction.
The album gives evidence of his talent to create a serious but positive and uplifting mood at a time. His capability of both singing and deejaying (including some pretty nice rhymes) makes him an excellent singjay. It offers to us an insight of where he actually comes from and we can be sure enough of that his music will take him even further and higher on the ladder of success.
LISTEN TO THE FULL ALBUM HERE:
Popcaan - Where We Come From
DIGITAL RELEASE [Mixpak Records]
Release date: 06/10/2014
01. Hold On
02. Everything Nice
03. Number One Freak
04. Love Yuh Bad
05. The System
06. Hustle feat. Pusha T
07. Waiting So Long
08. Cool It
09. Ghetto (Tired of Crying)
12. Give Thanks
13. Where We Come From