Remembering Pop Smoke: The Brooklyn-Bred Rapper Resting in the Stars

Pop_Smoke__Photo Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Pop Smoke rose quickly to stardom in the music industry with his hard lyrics and raspy voice. Paired with UK drill beats, the Brooklyn rapper connected with people looking for heavy-hitting anthems. Pop Smoke used his charismatic attitude, style and flow to rapidly take over the airwaves of New York. Pop Smoke was born as Bashar Barakah Jackson on July 20, 1999. The New York native lived in a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn known as Canarsie. He played basketball for several years before being diagnosed with a heart murmur, which made him unable to continue to play. By the time he was 16-years-old, he was on the street and started selling illegal drugs. He was arrested twice and placed under house arrest for two years.

Bashar entered the music arena in 2018 while spending time with other prominent musicians. At one time, rapper Jay Gwuapo fell asleep during a recording session and Bashar recorded instead. The series of sessions prompted the young rapper to pursue a career in music. He came up with his stage name by combining two nicknames given to him. In April 2019, Pop Smoke released the single “Welcome to the Party.” Nicki Minaj and Skepta remixed the song. This became the lead single to his debut mixtape Meet the Woo. The 11-track project reached the Billboard 200 chart. Pop Smoke released two songs, “War” featuring Lil Tjay and “100k on a Coupe” featuring Calboy. By the end of the year, Pop Smoke collaborated with Travis Scott and JackBoys on “Gatti.” He also released the standalone single, “Drive the Boat.”

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On February 7, 2020, Pop Smoke released his second mixtape, Meet the Woo, Vol. 2. The record made it to the Billboard 200 chart and reached even higher than volume one. The 16-track mixtape features popular artists Quavo, Lil Tjay, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, and Fivio Foreign. Pop Smoke’s hit song “Dior” was included on this mixtape and the previous one. Several songs stand out as they bring the unapologetic charisma that the young rapper carried through his music. Pop Smoke was tragically murdered on February 19, 2020. He was shot during a home invasion in Hollywood Hills, California. Four men were involved in the incident that occurred within minutes. It’s speculated that men knew where the artist was because of a social media story he posted that had his address on it.

Before his passing, Pop Smoke was able to record features for Nav’s “Run It Up” and Lil Tjay’s “Zoo York”, both of which were released after his death. The posthumous album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon will be released during Summer 2020. Even though Pop Smoke had his career in music cut short, his following and fan base has only continue to grow. Fans throughout New York, especially in Brooklyn, have played and continue to play his music heavily. If the young rapper weren’t killed so suddenly there definitely would have been plenty more material and success coming from the rising artist. Fans will have to hold on a bit longer to hear music never-before-heard. Listeners across the globe have immortalized the rapper through streaming his music.

Written by: Carlton Rolle

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