In Kingston, Jamaica there are several things that bring immediate joy: live music, quality ganja and good vibes.
Popcaan decided to bless us with all three for an unexpected yet well-planned live, acoustic performance of his entire ‘Vanquish’ mixtape on the last Friday of February. The equally spontaneous 10-track EP was released on December 20, the day before the dancehall deejay’s second annual Unruly Fest in 2019. The project also marks Poppy’s first official OVO release, after the announcement was made at the inaugural Unruly Fest by Drake himself a year prior.
The intimate show, which was also presented by OVO alongside Popcaan’s Unruly Entertainment imprint, took place at the newly opened Kingston branch of Kaya Herb House, named for Bob Marley’s timeless “Kaya” song, with the essence of both good marijuana and good energy alive and well within the venue.
Kaya Herb House was the perfect location and just what the city needed — a break from all the badmind for a good time in the most beautiful yet unruly way. The show was advertised from 8 pm – 12 am with most patrons arriving well after 11 pm and Popcaan himself emerging onstage shortly after midnight. Not without first sharing the stage with his Unruly family and friends, allowing them a few moments each to shine on their own.
Popcaan himself gave one of his best performances to date that night. As the smoke filled the stage and bounced off colorful hues of purple, blue and green, the energy was palpable and the vibes were undeniably upful. Beginning with a soulful rendition of “Hold On” from his debut album, Where We Come From that had the audience brimming with anticipation.
The international superstar and Jamaican icon soon emerged on stage to the soulful sounds of a full band which included notable musicians such as Hector aka Roots Percussionist from Chronixx’s ZincFence Redemption band. It was dancehall in its purest & finest element, to the joy of music lovers alike. Reggae and dancehall blended nicely as one for the night.
Dressed in all white, the Unruly Don was clean like Jesus nephew pon Easter Sunday. Complete with iced out Unruly and Promise Key pendants and the freshest white Moschino kicks you ever did see. There was also a fresh OVO-Clark’s sighting via ChiChingChing‘s guest appearance. The show was a demonstration of style and grace, in every sense of the words.
Popcaan serenaded the audience like a bridegroom, showing love to all the beautiful ladies and sharing life lessons with all the bredrin. The Unruly family happily celebrating like best men — including the queens of honour, Carleene “Goddess Rockstar” Samuels and Popcaan’s infamous sister, Annalecia Sutherland, affectionately known as Squid. There was an air of happiness as he juggled songs from ‘Vanquish’, joyfully commanding his live band like an orchestra leader slash war general.
He also demonstrated several things that night — mostly, how dancehall can par as nicely with a live band as reggae, that a room full of alleged gunman and tight punani gyal can still feel as spiritual as a church revival and also, that Popcaan himself is not only a star but a certified leader in full command of stage, presence and energy. He has demonstrated during both stagings of Unruly Fest, his ability to gracefully share the stage with artists from reggae and dancehall alike, without taking away from his own star power.
The vibes were up deh as Popcaan’s soulful music, playful personality and genuine love for the Unruly family and fans soon spread around the entire venue, and possibly, the entire island. A much needed musical & spiritual cleanse.
“Some a dem heart, filled with grudge.– Popcaan, Silence (Forever)
My thugs is the releasest thugs.
My heart clean, filled with love.”
From the early days of the classic ‘Where We Come From’ album to the juxtaposition of inner love and outer hate on the beautifully crafted ‘Forever’, Popcaan has been balancing good vibes and badmind and oscillating between the inviolable Popskull and the playful, lovable Poppy. On ‘Vanquish’ he seems to have finally found harmony within both worlds.
Pull up more photos for the full experience, as told visually by Lynch.
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