Popcaan takes it to the world

SIMONE MORGAN Observer staff reporter

Friday, December 14, 2012

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A lot of good things happened for singjay Popcaan in 2012. He had hit singles, overseas gigs and was in demand by producers at home and abroad.

Much of Popcaan's success this year spilled over from 2011. The 23-year-old scored big last year with the single Ravin and tasted even bigger success with Only Man which peaked at number 89 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop chart in March.

The song, which was recorded on the Lost Angel rhythm and produced by Elvis Redwood, caught the ears of American rapper Busta Rhymes who teamed with Popcaan on a remix of the track.

He recently completed a video for the song Blocka, done with American rapper Pusha T, who is signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D Music Label.

Because he does not hold a United States visa, Popcaan could not travel to help promote the single which appears on a number of compilation albums. During a break from rehearsals Tuesday at the Head Concussion studio in St Andrew, Popcaan, whose real name is Andre Sutherland, spoke about the past year of his promising career, and addressed the visa issue.

"Time does everything and I never question the visa thing as God knows best, and if he wants me to get a visa, nothing will stop that," he told Splash.

Although he was not able to promote himself physically in the US — the world's biggest music market — Popcaan did some travelling in 2012, performing in the Caribbean and Europe — with shows in Rome, Paris and Helsinki.

"It is a great feeling... it proves that the music is reaching people as some even travel from as far as Poland to see me perform," he said, adding that the acclaim has not affected him.

"I have not changed... I am still the same person as I was before stardom as the hype doesn't get to me."

Popcaan says besides working on his debut album which is slated to be released next year, he is gearing up for more local and international performances.

On December 26, he will be at Sting before heading off to Zimbabwe for shows.

Born in St Thomas, Popcaan sprung to fame five years ago as a protégé of controversial deejay Vybz Kartel, who is currently in police custody facing a number of charges, including murder. Before the spotlight, however, he attended Seaforth and Happy Grove High schools.

He later moved to Three West area of Portmore where he was exposed to a lot of violence.

"It took the lives of many of my friends including my very good friend Scumpy who first gave me the name Popcaan," he said.

"A man has to know what kind of decision to make in life, so I choose music. A lot of my friends died as a result of their lifestyle so I use those things as examples. I can't make the same mistakes as some of my friends did."

Music was not his first career choice. He hoped to enlist in the Jamaica Defence Force but in 2007 his musical skills drew the attention of Kartel at a stage show and thoughts of a military life were dashed.

Popcaan became a member of the Kartel-led Portmore Empire, releasing songs like Gangsta City, Dream, It no Work So, Hot Grabba, and Clarks — the collaboration with Kartel and anessa Bling which brought him to mainstream atention.

Released in 2010, Clarks is an ode to the popular British shoe. It turned out to be a massive hit. It was even hailed by the manufacturers and inspired a book by British author, Al Newman.

His association with Kartel has naturally made him a target for the tabloids and entertainment gossip. He says that is not the case when he goes abroad.

"Whenever I go to the Caribbean, the fans there know every song word-for-word. They expect to hear all the songs in my catalogue and they don't want one verse either, they demand the entire song... and I am happy to sing it all for them," he said.




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