Exclusives Interviews 2 September 2021

GRM Exclusive: Popcaan Talks Unruly x Daily Paper Collab, UK Music Dinner Parties & More

2 September 2021
Popcaan GRM interview

Jamaica’s global influence is undeniable. Jamaican lingo, culture and fashion can be found across the world, most notably in London, Toronto and New York.

As one of the Caribbean island’s most prolific artists, Popcaan continues to fly the flag for Jamaica around the world and his latest venture with Daily Paper marks a massive career move for the star who comes from humble origins in Jamaica’s St. Thomas parish.

The new line that comprises of six brand-new garments was a long time in the making and now the Unruly Boss is in London to promote the Daily Paper x Unruly capsule.

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Popcaan is very open on social media and can always be seen sharing his adventures with fans via his Instagram Stories.

Eagle-eyed watchers would have seen Popcaan shopping in Selfridges, recording in the studio and observing an Extinction Rebellion protest during his travels around Central London this week before dining with some famous faces.

Speaking via Zoom with animation and reflecting on his London stay, Popcaan told GRM, “I love it here. I always enjoy myself when I’m here. It’s the same ting now you know?

“I like to record. I love to go to the West End sometimes and go to a few clubs. I go to football matches if I have the time, I play some if I have the time as well. Most of all, I love to perform here. The people’s energy is very high.

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“It’s been a while since we’ve been to any clubs in Jamaica. London is more open than Jamaica right now. There’s not much going on. The other day they were having parties and tings but everything is all locked again now.

“It’s basically the same thing though. Jamaican clubs are just, they have a different energy because of the music. In certain clubs here, you don’t hear certain music so it brings a different vibes.”

The Gorillaz offered a free concert for NHS workers on the 10th of August and Popcaan appeared as a special guest in one of his first performances in the UK post-pandemic.

“It was normal you know. I expected it to be an amazing night and that’s what it was. It’s always a good vibes when me and the Gorillaz link up, we always make people happy. We just do the same routine at all times – make people happy and have fun whilst doing it.

“It was very live in there. It was a lot of people and it was for a worthy cause so I’m glad that I was able to be a part of that.”

Popcaan’s new Daily Paper x Unruly capsule was first unveiled at an exclusive Daily Paper event in London over the Bank Holiday weekend and it is now available to purchase on their website.

Popcaan said, “It’s been a while since this was supposed to happen and Isaac (Kimbugwe) has been trying to make it happen and I’ve been trying to make it happen.

“Nothing don’t happen before it’s time and the time is right now. Everyone is excited for it and so am I and I know that it will be a blessing. I know that people will try to get it.

“I was at the mall and I was looking at the Daily Paper section and I was like ‘I’m about to have some clothes over there in a minute. God is good.’

“Big up Isaac and the whole team from Daily Paper and big up the whole Unruly Entertainment same speed because everyone put in a lot of work to make it happen and the crew came to Jamaica and they did an amazing job. It was worth it.”

With jackets, t-shirts, hoodies and more, the line incorporates Popcaan’s Jamaican heritage along with his love of biker culture.

“It was a long process because obviously my hair, if you notice on those clothes, I have the buzz trim. It was a long process but we enjoy it and we made it work and I’m glad I did.

“When I watched how it was going and I see everything falling into place. When I got the first sample, they was telling me, well I didn’t get that information until after, that I wasn’t supposed to show it to anyone and I was already wearing it.

“I enjoyed the process as well and as I said before, everybody put in a lot of work to make it happen and I commend them for that.”

When asked his favourite item on the line, his answer was enthused and direct.

“The mask because I love bikes, I’ve got a lot of bikes at home so it’s like, when I look on that whole suit, it’s like I’m ready to touch the road and bike instant but I know I’m jumping in my truck in that suit as well because you can pull up anywhere in it.

“I just want everybody to go out and support it and whenever you get it, you’ll enjoy it. We have greater things in the pipeline.”

Popcaan – Daily Paper x Unruly Capsule (Image Credit: Daily Paper)

Titled after his Unruly Entertainment imprint, the name of the line means something to the artist and he reflects on the origins of Unruly with pride.

“Unruly is the reflection of me, of who I am. I was always that person when I was growing up, I always did my own thing. A lot of people don’t appreciate me for that but I always try to create my own rules and break my own rules.

“Unruly is something that is to inspire the yutes and let them know that they can believe in themselves and achieve what they want and they don’t have to be pushed around by anyone.

“Unruly is a reflection of me, 100 per cent.”

Popcaan’s brand has always been associated with fashion, whether due to his global smash hit feature on Vybz Kartel’s “Clarks”, his bold outfit choices or due to his fashion-centric tracks such as “Fresh Jordans”.

On fashion, the dancehall star told GRM, “My fashion ting is kind of weird you know because sometimes tings weh mi like fi wear, a lot of people don’t like it but I like to like go with my own style you know?

“And if somebody says ‘these things don’t go together’, I make them go together. I’m very confident when I’m doing it so that is all that matters really.

“And it’s like, from I was growing up and going to school concerts and concerts at church and those things, it was always about fashion. We always tried to be creative to present we self. It’s the same thing now.”

“I’ve never gone anywhere and taken anybody’s style and tried to bring it to Jamaica because we are the creators of style. We have so much style, we don’t need to take anything from anywhere.  

“A lot of different cultures are strong in Jamaica but when I go to other countries, I just appreciate other people’s culture, I don’t try to take anything from it.”

Despite spending most of his time away from Jamaica, the artist says he tries to stay focused on the present instead of allowing feelings of homesickness to take over.

Popcaan told GRM, “My life is about always being away from home so I think I apply myself to that so I don’t think I really get homesick.

“When I’m home, I’m home. I’m in London now so I just apply myself here. I don’t be thinking about Jamaica too much because that is also a distraction. You’re telling yourself that you miss some fried chicken, no, just satisfy yourself with what you have and keep it moving.”

With food being the first thing he referenced, we talked about his love of cooking, something which is widely shared via his Instagram Lives and his now-infamous appearance on Tory Lanez’ Quarantine Radio show where he told viewers that he was cooking to get through the pandemic imposed lockdown.

“I love to cook, I enjoy cooking. It’s like therapy for me. I don’t do therapy but cooking is like my therapy.

“I don’t have a favourite thing to cook. I cook curry chicken a lot of times because it’s quick but it’s not like it’s my favourite thing to cook because I cook a lot of things. Sometimes I don’t always post what I’m cooking. If I always posted when I was cooking, it would be so often.”

Popcaan has several friends on the UK music scene and beams with pride as he talks about the talent that we have here.

Marrying together his love of food and UK music, Popcaan told me his hypothetical plan for a UK music dinner party.

“I’d invite Kano, Giggs, Ghetts… I would invite the artists that I have had an experience cooking with before because a lot of artists cannot cook, I know that for a fact...Nando’s!”

“I would invite some other artists who would like the experience to learn how to cook. I wouldn’t just invite professional cooks in the kitchen, I would invite some amateurs as well.”

Away from the fashion capsule, Popcaan is also gearing up to release his new studio album and he spoke lovingly about the project.

“It is going to be an amazing album. The Fixtape was like a warm-up for this album.

“It’s different energy and it’s more inspiration. The more I travel, the more inspiration I get. I had some good times whilst I was here so that will definitely roll out in the music as well.”

Popcaan also confirmed his plans to host an album release party in Ghana which he describes as his second home.

“In Ghana they wanted to give me everything. Ghana is my next home as well, it’s like a bigger version of Jamaica. That’s where I’m doing my album release party. Let’s do a release party in the motherland.”

“I would like to have a house (in London) as well. I’m going to work towards it. Bear it in mind that what I said is a dream and that’s what a dreamer does.”

It’s hard not to think back to Popcaan’s single “Dream” which dropped over a decade ago when he talks about being a dreamer.

The St. Thomas hailing Popcaan is now a global superstar who reflects on his humble beginnings with pride and humility.

Reflecting on his childhood material desires, he said, “I wanted a trailer.”

“You know those trailers with the container? That’s what I wanted because we always used drinks boxes to create those trucks. We used the cover from the bottle to make the wheels and used the box to create the truck and it had the container and the front of the truck.

“I was always saying I wanted a truck when I was older but then when I got older, I realised that I did not want that type of truck, I wanted some spaceships. I’ve got a lot!”

With Autumn fast approaching and the year near over, the Unruly Boss is far from finished with his 2021 domination, telling us, “I don’t really like to tell too much about my plans you know, I like to do them in silence and just execute them but I would love to do my concert somewhere, Unruly Fest. I would love to do Unruly Fest – if it’s not in Jamaica, somewhere else where it can go.

“Me? I just go with the flow of life. I just work with the universe and what God’s plan is so whoever I’m supposed to work with in the future, it will unfold and you’ll see it.”

The Daily Paper x Unruly capsule is available now.