Wha gwaan Popcaan?” The first words uttered on the 2010 smash hit “Clarks” introduced the world to Vybz Kartel’s top protégé. Those same three words can be read as both a question (“What’s going on?”) and the answer to that question (“Papi.”)

Although he played more of a supporting role on “Clarks”—a song whose international success was credited with causing a spike in sales of the British shoe—the rising reggae star Popcaan has been on a roll ever since the summer of 2011. Thanks to hits like “Ravin,” “Party Shot,” and “Only Man She Want” Popcaan's distinctive voice and up-to-the-minute Portmore slang can now be heard all around the globe.

But who is this man they call Hotskull? He stands just five feet five inches tall, yet there’s no doubt that Popcaan looms large in the dancehall business right now—and he's poised to make the jump from Jamaican sensation to worldwide star. “Just check any party,” he confirms. “You can see it pon the charts. You can hear it pon the radio.”

Papi's timing couldn’t be better. While Kartel battles through some serious legal troubles, Popcaan has stepped up to hold it down for the Gaza Empire. We caught up with the Peppa Skull to see how he’s adjusting to fame and wha gwan with his new mixtape, Yiy Change. So read on to find out how Popcaan gets it poppin’.

Written by Rob Kenner (@boomshots)

Lead photo by Peter Dean Rickards (@afflictedyard)

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