Popcaan used to spit about Vybz Kartel bringing him into the scene, doing him favours:
“Instantly mi rise start swell from mi go link up Vybz Kartel; him carry mi ah Sting last year and him carry mi Sumfest as well”
- Popcaan ‘Dream’ (2010)
Now he has 3 singles on Dre Skull’s Brooklyn label Mixpak Records, he’s really doing his own thing. Since Skull’s release of Mi Fi Gi Yuh Love in 2009 (and if you want to go even further back that year, ‘Gone Too Far’ by Sizzla) the team have been growing and growing. You only have to look at the vibrant, fresh artwork to realise this is where it’s at – and if we’re splitting hairs, you might even want to call this self-sufficient bubble of activity ‘nu-dancehall’, but I’m not one for labelling sub-genres.
Conscious lyrics on this one:
“Ghetto youth don’t make silly plans, believe in yourself be a man - dem want mi fi dead pan di road, dem no want wi fi mek millions”
Popcaan’s decision to join this mini-movement is both a smart marketing move and, musically speaking, an intelligent acceptance of the more underground direction/capabilities of modern dancehall.
It’s not all about getting signed to NotNice Adidjahiem Productions, Big Ship, Daseca or Di Genius (I was about to say Don Corleon, but last year’s ‘Dub In HD’ seemed to beautifully bridge the gap between current day digitally produced reggae and that of the traditional version and true analogue sound) times are a-changing, and lesser commercially known outfits such as Mixpak and Mad Decent are making considerable waves, while maintaining the necessary distance* from top dogs Greensleeves and Chimney Records (below).
Kartel has offered a piece of his swagger – the most impressive being upon the LP Kingston Story which has been voted best album by numerous sources.
The above point undoubtedly applies to London-based Necessary Mayhem, whose head honcho and top producer Da Grynch just keeps releasing absolute bangers such as the rework of John Holt’s classic ‘Police In Helicopter’ and most recently the Possessed Riddim with nose-tickling bass treatment. This, again, is a mini army…
*Music seems like a constant battle between the mainstream and the underground