Pop Smoke‘s fans will finally be able to see his posthumous film debut in Eddie Huang’s Boogie on March 5, 2021, via Focus Features.
Boogie, Huang’s feature-film directorial debut, will also feature unreleased music from the late Brooklyn drill rapper. Boogie tells a coming-of-age story about aspiring high school basketball star Alfred “Boogie” Chin (Taylor Takahashi) living in Queens, New York. But among the challenges Boogie faces off-court in order to achieve his dreams of entering the NBA, he faces on-court rivals like Monk, who is played by Pop. Fellow rapper Dave East also appears in the film.
In a New York Times feature recounting Pop’s last days, Huang spoke about the charisma he saw on camera and the “old soul” with a “voice of 50 Cent and Paul Mooney” that intrigued him about the star when he first auditioned.
“He gave me a thousand percent. They were tough 16-hour days, overnights, and he shot five overnights in a row. Kids were coming on the bridge to watch us shoot the scenes. We would play Pop’s record,” he remembers. “All our actors, the extras, the kids on the bridge watching us shoot scenes, everyone was doing the Woo dance. It was pretty special.”
During an episode of The Dave Chang Show podcast in September, Huang mentioned how Columbia Pictures approached him to pitch a remake of the ’80s kung-fu comedy The Last Dragon starring Pop as Sho’nuff, but it didn’t end up working out.
“I talked to Pop Smoke about it. Pop’s manager, Rico, was a huge Sho’nuff fan. It was funny ’cause I was talking to Pop about it — ‘Bro, you’d be an amazing Sho’nuff’ — and he was like, ‘What’s The Last Dragon?'” Huang recalls of the conversation. “And his manager was like, ‘I can’t believe you haven’t seen this film!’ The whole bus started talking about how the greatest ‘80s New York movies were The Last Dragon and King of New York.”
Pop Smoke (real name Bashar Barakah Jackson) was killed in a home-invasion robbery on Feb. 19. He was only 20. His first posthumous album, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, was a smash hit on the Billboard 200, where it debuted at No. 1 and occupied the top for two non-consecutive weeks this year.