The whole pop-loving world has been on a bit of a watered-down Caribbean kick, gobbling down hits from imitators like a brown stew chicken in a too-thin gravy. Sure, releases from Justin Bieber and Drake are pretty great, but Popcaan continues to provide all the arguments for going to the source that any More Life-loving stan (and even a few of his haters) could need.
The Jamaican MC’s latest “Stray Dog” is a blend of everything he does well. It starts with a slinky and menacing beat, a descending and wobbly piano sound and a synthesized bass line providing the perfect backdrop for Popcaan to rap about taking rivals to the hanging tree. The beat then switches to a big open-air, simple piano chord showcase complete with a massive autotuned sing-along of a chorus. But while the composition might sound light, Popcaan never lets off the gangster talk of the song’s first half. He’s still singing about murdering everyone, he just sounds happy about it.
Overall, “Stray Dog” is symptomatic of the sort of thing that’s made Popcaan a legitimate star. Much like Drake did in hip-hop, the MC has done away with dancehall’s default badman persona when it suits him. Occasionally, this leads him to blend the sounds and lessons of pop with the street stylings of dancehall rap in new and interesting ways. Rapping about killing entire families over a song that sounds like a tribute single to a dead celebrity is just one example. Give it a listen up top.