Remembering Pop Smoke

Pop smoke was shot at 4:35am in West Hollywood today. This news has shocked hip-hop fans around the world as it was looking like Pop Smoke was just about to take his career to the next level, and his second mixtape, Meet the Woo 2 is so fresh on everyone’s mind.

His first hit “Welcome To The Party,” was the greatest New York anthem since Bobby Shmurda’s 2014 hit  “Hot Ni**a.” A song so massive in New York City, it felt like the biggest song in the world and went on to be named New York Time’s song of the year. The whole city loved “Welcome To The Party.” It was played at full volume by cars on every block and in everyone’s headphones. When it came on at the function, and it always did this summer (usually more than once), the whole building would get hype and chant  the chorus “I’m off the molly the xans the lean that’s why I’m moving retarded.” Everyone in the city loved Pop Smoke and he was definitely the King of New York this year. A takeover this fast and aggressive was reminiscent of one of his biggest influences, 50 Cent. He brought the energy and aggression back to New York hip-hop and showed the world that Brooklyn Drill was not to be ignored.

It’s rare to experience the making of  a legend before mainstream fame, and after becoming a local celebrity, there was no doubt Pop Smoke was about to take over the world. But until then he was the local hero of city heads and drill fanatics. We knew him since he was 13 and Shapowed in a legendary Facebook video, and saw him get his revenge almost a decade later. After a year of being next up, he was finally getting the recognition he deserved. He had songs with Skepta, Travis Scott and Quavo and reviews in national papers. The world was waking up to the fact that the most exciting artist in hip hop wasn’t in Atlanta or Chicago but Canarsie, rapping over menacing futuristic beats equally indebted to UK and Chicago drill in a voice lower than the 808s. In his signature grovel tone Pop Smoke rapped about being the gangster that likes to party and wear designer clothing. The self proclaimed “Double G, Gentleman and Gangster,” who balanced representing the blocks of his hood with the struggles of growing up on them. “My PTSD startin’ to kick in so I gotta get high,” he rapped somberly on “PTSD.”

His career was short but extremely impactful and his legacy will live on. Pop Smoke has brought the attention to the Brooklyn drill scene and has given the opportunity for other rappers to carry on the wave and keep bringing shine to the city. It’s really sad to see this happen just twelve days after the release of his sophomore tape, Meet the Woo 2, which saw him making his play for the mainstream. He had broken out of just being the hottest rapper in New York and now had the attention of the world with a huge US tour set for later this month. A legend taken far before his time, he will be greatly missed. 

RIP Pop Smoke, January 20th 1999- February 19th 2020

Written by Theo Fenton and Alex McKillop