Quick-rising rapper Pop Smoke — born Bashar Jackson — was reportedly murdered in a home invasion at a Hollywood Hills residence early Wednesday (Feb. 19). The Brooklyn native was on the fast track to stardom, as his Meet the Woo 2 project debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 for the week dated Feb. 22.
The drill rapper burst onto the hip-hop scene with his rowdy “Welcome to the Party” last summer, which received a co-sign from fellow New Yorker Nicki Minaj on its remix. With only two projects under his belt, the burgeoning 20-year-old — managed by renowned hip-hop executive Steven Victor — was just recognizing his unlimited potential and gearing up to put the city on his back to invade rap’s mainstream.
Whether you’re a big Pop Smoke fan or unfamiliar with his bark, here are eight songs to get familiar with and remember the late rapper by.
“PTSD” is an atypical record in Smoke’s arsenal. Pop uses more of a spoken word approach than his gruff tone to get his point across. The Meet the Woo standout finds Smoke opening up about suffering from PTSD after all of the trauma he’s endured growing up in Brooklyn. He mentions getting his revenge seven years later on a kid for smacking him, and how he’s not coming to any clubs without a $25,000 deposit to support his love for designer clothing.
7. “War” (feat. Lil Tjay)
Pop Smoke stays war-ready, and his chemistry with Lil Tjay makes for an explosive combination. Smoke’s croaky rhymes mixed with Tjay’s higher-pitched croon work on the somber “War.” Without raising his voice, Pop stays intimidating to his detractors by calmly saying one call can have them disposed of.
Smoke properly sets the tone for his Meet the Woo sequel by rhyming over a beat one might think he’d have no business using. Here, Pop turns the cinematic strings into the opening scene to his own blockbuster. Smoke lets his Crip ties be known, and goes on to shout out the DJs showing him love around NYC.
5. “Shake the Room” (feat. Quavo)
Quavo gives Pop Smoke an early co-sign with “Shake the Room,” as it was quickly tabbed a fan-favorite off MTW2 and continues to pick up steam. While promoting the record just earlier this week, Smoke was hyped to reveal they had about nine more records left in the stash.
4. “Welcome to the Party”
The ubiquitous “Welcome to the Party” was the record to put the hip-hop world on notice that Pop Smoke had plans of being much more than a local Brooklyn phenom. Pop said he crafted his first mainstream anthem in just 30 minutes at his home. The freestyled bars give listeners a peek into Smoke’s rated-R lifestyle of gangbanging, drugs, and women. Nicki Minaj gave her approval of the fiery NY banger — a challenger for song of the summer — by hopping on the song’s remix.
3. “Mannequin” (feat. Lil Tjay)
The 808Melo production makes use of a familiar Ariana Grande sample that baffles listeners after the first listen. On “Mannequin,” Grande’s “7 Rings” vocals are mixed in to complement Tjay and Pop Smoke’s verses and ad-libs. Whoever’s decision it was to get Ari involved, they deserve a raise. Always draped in luxury brands, Smoke compares his head-to-toe designer outfits to the mannequins you’d see when walking into lavish stores.
2. “GATTI” (JACKBOYS feat. Pop Smoke & Travis Scott)
Usually ahead of the curve, Travis Scott took note of Pop Smoke’s charm bubbling out of Brooklyn. La Flame called on Pop Smoke to guest on his JACKBOYS compilation “pack.” The duo proves to be a winning combination as Trav invades the drill beat, while Pop Smoke rides around Brooklyn with Scott in the visual. “GATTI” also became Smoke’s first Hot 100 hit.
The brash “Dior” embodies exactly what made Pop Smoke special. With his unique ability to turn his fascination of designer brands into his own catchphrase combined with his signature growl, “Dior” was an instant party-starter, very much like his punchy breakout record “Welcome to the Party.”