You may know Popcaan from “Saturnz Barz”, Gorillaz’ billboard-topping 2017 hypnotic mesmerizer. Truth be told though, Popcaan hails from Jamaica and has been whipping his electric vocals since the late 2000s. Popcaan’s whole sound is based on only one debut record and an obscure plethora of collabs (ranging from AlunaGeorge to Drake). It was tough to have an expectation upon entry, but the 2018 release of Forever does bring a certainly fresh serving of electro-reggae. A generally uninteresting trap stereotype suffocates a majority of his musicality, leaving small room for something unique. However, where Popcaan shines is in his unmistakable vocals, and a unique take on hip-hop R&B.
Such a special fusion of reggae is exactly what carries this work. Even when Popcaan’s music moves in a centripetal drone of bare-bones rap, his high-octane Jamaican accent crafts a rich, original sound. His vocals are no short of present, ricocheting pronunciations around and fleshing out his own gangster Jamaican culture. Forever’s neo-reggae attitude of romanticism and emotional filth are one hell of a phenomenon. It’s easy to call Popcaan’s lyricism a work of art all on its own. You can hear these vocals in every track of Forever, but when it comes to the primary cuts, a few well-composed songs are bumped up to “instant classic” status when complimented by his spicy voice.
“Call Me” kicks off the album, establishing an emotional reach and attempting some starry synthesis. The feeling is very spacey and highlights tracks like “Naked” and “Firm and Strong.” Unfortunately, this is all that is worth mentioning, besides perhaps “High Drive”, a duo with Louis Out that feels much like his chapters of collaboration in the past. Most of the rest just blurs itself out, despite his vocals, making the album mostly a wash. Walking away, Popcaan’s grimy, slithery character working a thick concoction of reggae and R&B fusion will resonate with you. The songs themselves may not.