“When me say Clarks, my whole life change,” says Popcaan of the song he recorded with Kartel and Gaza Slim on ZJ Chrome’s Mad Collab riddim. Popcaan says the idea of making a tune about the popular footwear was a spontaneous decision. The song went on to become their biggest international hit to date.
”Ya know say we wear straight Clarks pon The Gaza—we and Vybz Kartel. And we only wear real Clarks around here. We are not like some artists,” he adds with a laugh.
All the slang in the song came out of every day conversation. “Me always say 'Pawdy' and 'Hot Skull' and them ting deh,” Papi says. “So just by talking every day, the whole idea for the song forward out. Just like ‘Hot Grabba’” [a tobacco leaf some people blend into their spliff]. “Vybz Kartel don’t smoke grabba. Me smoke all the grabba. So the things me do inspire Vybz Kartel to build a song and things that Vybz Kartel do inspire me same way. That’s the way it is."
One year after the song came out, worldwide sales of Clarks topped $160 million for the first time—although the makers of Clarks have never acknowledged the influence of the dancehall track, they did produce a couple of desert boots in Jamaican colors.
“Sales are still through the roof,” says Popcaan. “The roof stop and it’s still goin’ on now.” Although the song’s music video might as well have been an ad for the shoe, Popcaan and Kartel were never been approached to make an official commercial. “Me nah go follow up that,” he says. “If it so happen then it will.”