Label: Mixpak

It's tough to know if you should be surprised by Popcaan's debut. On one hand, it's the album the man behind the summery hit "Only Man She Want" should have made. Most of it is pop-ready electro riddims that shimmer like coins in the sun. On the other hand, it's a much friendlier and lighthearted affair than the man who is now the head of the Gaza Empire after the imprisonment of Vybz Kartel was expected to make. It makes sense, though, when you consider Popcaan made the album with Brooklyn-based indie label Mixpak records. Mixpak is home to producer/DJ Dre Skull, who's worked with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Sizzla. What we get then is an album that spread across many influences that should—but for whatever reason hasn't—play well to the masses who love accessible pop music.

Where We Came From is full of expertly produced compositions that fit perfectly with his smooth vocals, whether he's coaxing listeners to keep their heads up as he does on "Hold On," or confessing his affection for a woman, as he does on the excellent "Waiting So Long." With winding synths, addictive handclaps, and a chorus you can't help but sing along to, the single signals the birth of a new dancehall star. But that's not to say he's forgotten his roots. There are still songs like "Love Yuh Bad" on here that fit in nicely with his dancehall pedigree, showing that despite leaving home to craft such a great project, he hasn't forgotten where he came from. —Damien Scott