Gone But Never Forgotten

Pop Smoke - A Pioneer of Brooklyn Drill

Pop Smoke influenced many people, not just drill rappers, because he did the impossible for people who don’t believe in people like him.

Early Life

Pop Smoke, also known as Bashar Barakah Jackson, was born on July 20, 1999, in Brooklyn, New York. Pop Smoke is considered a rapper, singer, and songwriter. Most of his songs fall under the genre of Hip Hop/Rap. He was born to a Panamanian mother, Audrey Jackson, and Jamaican father, Greg Jackson. Growing up in Canarsie, Brooklyn, Jackson had a rough life. While growing up, he attended nine different schools. Jackson brought a gun to school, leading to expulsion from school and landing him on house arrest for two years. Once off house arrest, Jackson enrolled in Rocktop Academy for basketball. However, his mother was diagnosed with a heart murmur forcing him to come home. Due to this, he later returned to the life he already knew all too well, the street life. Pop Smoke adopted his name from a nickname, Poppa, his Panamanian grandmother, and Smocco Guwop, a nickname given to him by his childhood friends. 

Professional Career

Pop Smoke released the hit “MPR” in late 2018. This started his musical career. This song, in my opinion, opened the eyes of many to drill music. He recorded this song to play around in the studio he had been in with fellow rapper Jay Gwuapo. In early 2019, Smoke released “Flexin,” which was not as big of a hit.


In April of 2019, Smoke signed to Victor Victor Worldwide. He then released “Welcome to the Party,” which put him on the map. This turned into the song of Summer 2019. Two big celebrities later remixed the song. Nicki Minaj is one of the most prominent female rappers the world has seen, and Skepta is a prominent British rapper. In July 2019, Smoke released his debut mixtape, “Meet the Woo,” which globally put him on the map. Almost all the songs on this mixtape blew up. Towards the end of 2019, Smoke released many singles that topped charts.


At the beginning of 2020, Pop Smoke released his second mixtape, “Meet the Woo 2.” He has many significant features on this mixtape, from A boogie to Lil Tjay to Quavo of the Migos. This mixtape debuted at number 7 on the US Billboard 200. After releasing this, he released a deluxe version creating even more heat for himself.

Posthumous Release

Pop Smoke passed away on February 19, 2020, at the age of 20, due to two gunshots to the chest. In March of the same year, 50 Cent announced that he decided to executive produce and finish Pop Smoke’s debut studio album. He also announced that there would be many big artists on the album, such as Roddy Rich, Lil Baby, and even himself. The album is called “Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon.” It was set to be released on June 12, 2020, but due to the George Floyd protests, they decided just to release one song on this date. The entire album was released on July 3, 2020, and hit number one in several countries. When the album released, “For the Night,” featuring Lil Baby and Da Baby, debuted and peaked at number, allowing Pop Smoke his first top-10 hit in the US. 


On July 20, 2020, Pop Smoke’s birthday, a deluxe of the album was released. The album’s fifth single, “What You Know About Love,” is a sample of Ginuwine’s single, “Differences,” which peaked at number 9, being Smoke’s second top-10 hit. 


Pop Smoke can be seen as similar to many artists, especially drill artists. For example, Fivio Foreign, Sleepy Hallow, Sheff G, Bizzy Banks, and many more. 


Pop Smoke was not influenced my many. However, he sampled many songs by different artists. 


BET Awards

2020 – Best New Artist Nomination 


MTV Video Music Awards

2020 – Push Best New Artist Longlisted

2020 – Song of Summer for “The Woo” Nomination 


BET Hip Hop Awards

2020 – Best New Hip Hop Artist Winner


Grammy Awards

2021 – Best Rap Performance Nomination


Social Life

Pop Smoke had a tight group of friends. He kept that same group once he became famous. But, being from Canarsie, he knew a lot of people. It’s like a family, everyone knows everyone. 

Pop Smoke Conclusion

Pop Smoke influenced a lot of people. Many people started using drill beats because of him. Pop Smoke was a rare soul that died way too soon. He truly was going to be big. It’s sad that he let fame cloud his thinking. Pop Smoke is from the same neighborhood in Brooklyn that I am from. He knew what it was like to be from Canarsie aka “the Floss” aka “Floss Angeles.” He prided himself on that. He put Canarsie on the map. Smoke influenced a lot of people just by being so young and doing something he never imagined. Pop Smoke did what he wanted for himself and never let someone tell him otherwise. He had adopted the name “The Woo” or “The Big Woo.”


Caramanica, Jon. “The Last Days of Pop Smoke.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 June 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/arts/music/pop-smoke.html. 


“Pop Smoke.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Apr. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_Smoke. 


“Pop Smoke: Similar Artists.” AllMusic, www.allmusic.com/artist/pop-smoke-mn0003870382/related. 

“Remembering Pop Smoke, the US Rapper Who Introduced the UK Drill Sound to New York.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 17 Mar. 2020, www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/pop-smoke-death-shooting-rapper-hip-hop-drill-music- new-york-age-cause-a9358366.html.

“Pop Smoke Explores New Sounds in His First and Final Album.” The Stanford Daily, 3 Aug. 2020, www.stanforddaily.com/2020/08/03/pop-smoke-explores-new-sounds-in-his-first-and-final-album /.


“After Pop Smoke’s Death, Can UK Drill Producers Maintain Their US Success?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 July 2020, www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jul/01/up-in-smoke-can-uk-drill-producers-maintain-their-us-s uccess-pop-smoke-killing-drake-travis-scott.


“How Pop Smoke Shaped New York’s Drill Rap Scene.” GRAMMY.com, Recording Academy, 12 Feb. 2021, www.grammy.com/grammys/news/how-pop-smoke-shaped-new-yorks-drill-rap-scene-well-afterl ife.


Younger, Briana. “Pop Smoke’s Majesty and Menace.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 20 Feb. 2020, www.newyorker.com/culture/postscript/pop-smokes-majesty-and-menace. 

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