POPCAAN is the pint-sized king of Jamaican dancehall a singin star who has crossed over from island sound systems to international hit collaborations with the likes of Drake, Kanye West and Damon Albarn. Andrew Perry spends a very long weekend getting to
Life hasn’t been easy for the king of Jamaican dancehall, but as we find over the course of a lost weekend in London, the Unruly Boss prevailed.
Half an hour before he’s due to perform, mid-evening on the main stage at All Points East festival in Victoria Park, Hackney, Popcaan has yet to materialise. The pint-sized crossover king of Jamaican dancehall is believed to have arrived in the country, but nobody from his transatlantic representation has heard from him today. His phone’s going straight to answer, but a new Instagram post shows him officiating at some kind of impromptu quad-bike street event, hopefully not too far from East London’s Nobu Hotel, where he’s meant to be staying. All such unpredictability is surely what you want from your visiting nu-reggae royalty, whose admiring collaborators have included A-listers such as Drake, Kanye West and Damon Albarn. Popcaan – sexier than Shaggy, edgier than Sean Paul, and by some distance the most successful “singjay” of his generation – has very gradually proven his potential as an international star-in-waiting, capable of translating the ever-bubbling relevance of Jamaican music into massive success around the world. As a Caribbean-worthy sunset bathes the APE stage, suddenly, bang on time, there he is, a diminutive dynamo zipping around with all the incandescent energy of a young Iggy Pop, clad in blackout shades, tight white satin drainpipes and a brocaded jacket unseasonally zipped up to the neck. Backed just by a DJ summoning bass-bumping tracks from a laptop – often snatches of just 30 seconds’ duration, bracketed