(Graphic by Sean Mackey)
It was months ago when the borough of Brooklyn and in turn the rest of the world lost Bashar Jackson, better known as Pop Smoke. He took over the rap game in 2019 with his hit songs "Dior" and "Welcome to the Party". His mixtape Meet the Woo debuted at number 173 on the US Billboard 200. In comparison to other artists’ debut, the numbers were not that impressive but, for New York City (not you Staten Island) the numbers didn’t matter. Pop Smoke became the hero of the summer leaving fans wanting more. And less than a year later he provided fans with another mixtape titled Meet the Woo Vol. 2. His second mixtape outshined his first album tremendously debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 Chart and reached its way to No. 5 on both the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums charts in 2020.
However, despite his continued success Pop Smoke was never really given a homecoming in his own city. In October 2019 he was scheduled to perform at the infamous Rolling Loud only to be pulled out last minute. Chief Martin Morales, assistant to NYPD claimed the late rapper and other artists were dangerous and would erupt violence in the city. The promoters of Rolling Loud knew Pop Smoke would not be able to perform days prior to the event. However, fans didn’t receive any updates to their schedule until the first day of the two-day festival, leaving thousands disappointed. Most of his fanbase believed he reopened doors in the music scene that were previously closed, providing many of us rap fans with the nostalgic vibes of 50 Cent. Even going as far as to record his own version of "Many Men". A modern 50 Cent for those too young to really remember the iconic rapper from Queens.
When news of his death broke out, it felt as if the world stopped momentarily. His famous lyric “Babygirl come and meet the Woo,” no longer possible. Another rapper lost in the game, someone’s son no longer coming home, a twenty-year-old child robbed of his entire life. Sources were told that two masked men broke into the house where Pop Smoke was staying and fatally shot him. He was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood, hours after he was seen interacting with fans on Twitter. There’s a cruel irony of surviving Canarsie only to die in Hollywood Hills. And yet, losing icons is all too familiar. Just months before Pop Smoke the world lost Kobe Bryant, and the month after Pop Smoke’s passing we mourned one year without Nipsey Hussle. The summer of 2020 was supposed to rival the summer of 2019 that Pop Smoke gave us. Currently, Pop Smoke’s record label has plans to release never before heard songs in honor of the late rapper, starting off with his single "Make It Rain" released earlier this month. The label followed up on their promise and today released the long-awaited and edited album cover version (Virgil can't stop taking L's) of Pop's last project, the posthumous album Shoot For the Stars, Aim For The Moon. With features ranging from Future, 50 Cent, Swae Lee, Lil Baby, and Quavo (multiple times) there's no denying the impact that Pop left on the music industry. For now, his family, friends, and his fans mourn and bond over his memory in their homes waiting for the party to start again.