It’ll only take a few listens to his discography (especially the most recent album, Views) to realize Drake has been influenced by Jamaican music and its culture for years, and one source of inspiration that he consistently returns to is Popcaan. From big-ups on Instagram to the borrowing of a handful of his slang, it’s become clear that Popcaan has made his mark with the Drake co-sign.
Yet he is so much more than being a part of Drake’s ever-growing affiliates, as he solidified his international status beyond Jamaica way before OVO Unruly came about. So we present to you a playlist of all the essential Popcaan tracks from his early, rough-and-tough days through the present.
Before the Toronto guy was embedding phrases like “Way up” on his “Blessings” collaboration with Big Sean and “Yiy Change” on Views cut “Controlla,” Popcaan was already establishing a credible name for himself in a difficult genre with an ever-revolving door for artists—dancehall.
Popcaan, born Andre Jay Sutherland, first captured his country’s attention with his debut on Vybz Kartel’s 2010 cut “Clarks.” But the stateside acclaim didn’t occur until a year later, when he shed his Kartel protégé image and came into his own artistry with “Ravin,” “Party Shot” and “Only Man She Want.” The latter song became Popcaan’s Billboard debut, hitting its peak at No. 82 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart.
During this time, Drake was showing his budding love for Jamaica with the island-tinged “Find Your Love” single in 2010 and making a surprise performance in the country (his first one) the following year. Once Popcaan’s “Only Man She Want” single took flight, Drake showed his appreciation in a few ways: a lyrical shoutout on Twitter, an invitation to the third annual OVO Fest and officially festering the OVO Unruly joint crew with OVO Niko directing 2013’s “Unruly Rave” video.
Fast forward to the present day, and Popcaan has ruled the stages of Europe and the Caribbean (he cannot get a U.S. Visa at the moment), was the opener on Pusha T's "Blocka" track in 2013 and appeared on the outro of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late cut “Know Yourself."
Last year, he stole the show with his feature on "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)" alongside Jamie xx and Young Thug. Most recently, Popcaan teamed up with AlunaGeorge for "I'm In Control" and had his “Love Yuh Bad” track sampled on Views’ “Too Good” (despite not being on the official version on the LP’s dancehall cruiser, “Controlla").
But for everyone not familiar with Popcaan's music outside of the OVO Unruly camp, take some notes as you listen to our essential playlist!
"Dream" is the single that started it all. Released in 2010, it was the solo moment that helped Popcaan stand out from his "Clarks" feature with Vybz Kartel. The introspective track finds him giving thanks for his new career and being able to afford to take care of his family. Listening to it six years later, it is a heartwarming parallel when compared to Popcaan's current international stardom.