Pop Smoke | Srivideo
Birth name: Bashar Barakah Jackson
Born/Date of Birth: July 20, 1999
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: February 19, 2020 (aged 20), Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres: Hip hopdrill
Occupation(s): Rapper, songwriter
Years active: 2018–2020
Labels: Victor Victor, Republic
Associated acts: 50 CentLil Tjay, Fivio Foreign, Quavo, Skepta
Bashar Barakah Jackson (July 20, 1999 – February 19, 2020), known professionally as Pop Smoke, was an American rapper and songwriter. He was signed to Victor Victor Worldwide and Republic Records. Working with UK drill producers 808Melo, Axl Beats, and Yoz Beatz, Pop Smoke rose to popularity for exposing the sound to the American mainstream music industry. In April 2019, he released the song "Welcome to the Party", the lead single of his debut mixtape, Meet the Woo, which was released in July 2019. "Welcome to the Party" was made into two remixes featuring American rapper Nicki Minaj and British rapper Skepta in August 2019.
In October 2019, he featured American rapper Lil Tjay on his single "War". In December 2019, he featured American rapper Calboy on his single "100k on a Coupe" and also collaborated with Travis Scott a few weeks later on the song "Gatti", from Scott and his Cactus Jack members' compilation album, JackBoys (2019). "Gatti" became his first Billboard Hot 100 charting song, peaking at 69, a week after the release of JackBoys. In February 2020, he released his second mixtape, Meet the Woo 2, containing features from Quavo, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Fivio Foreign, and Lil Tjay. In the week following his death, his single "Dior" entered the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number 30.
Pop Smoke's debut studio album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, was posthumously released on July 3, 2020.
Bashar Barakah Jackson was born on July 20, 1999, in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jamaican mother and a Panamanian father. He spent his childhood in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn. There, amongst other things, he started dealing drugs and at 16 years old he leased a BMW 5 Series, spending two years on house arrest after catching a weapons charge. He began his music career in 2018 while hanging around other recording artists like Jay Gwuapo during their studio sessions, initially remixing popular songs within the New York City drill music scene, before embarking on creating original music. In a Genius interview, he stated that his artist name of Pop Smoke is a combination of Poppa (a nickname given to him by his Panamanian grandmother) and Smoke (part of a nickname given to him by childhood friends).
In April 2019, Pop Smoke released his breakout single, "Welcome to the Party", the lead single of his debut mixtape, Meet the Woo (2019). The song was later remixed two times, one featuring Nicki Minaj and the other featuring Skepta in August 2019. The song was noted for its usage of UK drill production, later commonly seen throughout his discography. This was due to frequent collaborations with British drill producer 808Melo. Other well-known songs of his include: "Mpr", "Flexin'" and "Dior". Following the rise to popularity of "Welcome to the Party", he collaborated with other popular artists on singles such as: "War" featuring Lil Tjay and "100k on a Coupe" featuring Calboy. In December 2019, he collaborated on "Gatti" with JackBoys and Travis Scott, which is the last track on the JackBoys (2019) album by Scott and his Cactus Jack members.
In February 2020, Pop Smoke released his second mixtape Meet the Woo 2 with features from Quavo, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Fivio Foreign and Lil Tjay. In five days of its release, a deluxe edition was released with three new songs: "Wolves" featuring Nav, "Dior (Remix)" featuring Gunna, and "Like Me" featuring PnB Rock. Pop Smoke's manager Steven Victor announced on May 14, 2020, that Smoke's posthumous debut album will be released on June 12, 2020. American rapper 50 Cent gave praise to the deceased rapper and expressed interest in finishing the album, with possible features from Roddy Ricch, Drake and Chris Brown, while also promising to get Pop Smoke's mother to an awards show. In April, a documentary was announced to be in the works. Nigerian singer Davido was later revealed to be featured on the posthumous album. Pop Smoke's posthumous debut album Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon was originally set for release on June 12, 2020, but was released on July 3, 2020.
On January 17, 2020 after returning from Paris, Pop Smoke was arrested by federal authorities at John F. Kennedy International Airport and charged with transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines. The vehicle was a Rolls-Royce Wraith, whose owner had reported it stolen after Smoke had reportedly borrowed it in California for a music video shoot on the condition it would be returned the next day. The car was recovered by authorities at Smoke's mother's house, in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, and sported Alabama license plates and tinted windows. Smoke pleaded not guilty, and was released on $250,000 bail on the same day.
Pop Smoke died on February 19, 2020, after being shot twice during a home invasion in Hollywood Hills, California. According to authorities, four hooded men entered the home at about 4:30 AM on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, one of them wearing a ski mask and carrying a handgun. Police received news of the home invasion from someone calling from the East Coast. Police arrived at the home six minutes later and found Pop Smoke with multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. On February 21, 2020, The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner revealed that the cause of Pop Smoke's death was a gunshot wound to the torso. Four suspects fled the scene but have not been apprehended. He was interred at Green-Wood Cemetery.
Considered one of the pioneers of Brooklyn drill music, his popularity in New York was such that his songs were played more than some Billboard number 1 hits throughout 2019. The way he blended the defining harsh sounds of drill with lyrics pertaining to leading a luxuriously hedonistic lifestyle, similar to those popularized within the American trap sound, led many to believe he represented his city better than his contemporaries; "he conquered New York rap and gave the city the kind of readymade and potentially defining star it hadn't seen in years", said Danny Schwartz of The Ringer.
Because of his strong desire to leave his old lifestyle, he motivated young people of his neighborhood to get away from the streets. Producer Rico Beats explained he started "telling kids, don't go the gang route", wanting to "be a better person". A few months after his death, his family announced the creation of Shoot for the Stars, a foundation launched by Pop which aims at helping and inspiring inner-city youth with a platform that helps to achieve goals amidst living and growing up in difficult circumstances.
Although his lyrics do not contend with police brutality or racism, his songs have been popularly used during the George Floyd protests in New York City as a symbol of resistance.
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