Posthumous albums can be difficult for fans. Your favorite artist has passed and now you are left with a hope that their last body of work can fill the void left. In most cases families are left with the responsibility to release rushed or unfinished music with the hope of giving grieving fans closure. Artists like Mac Miller whose family released his posthumous album Circles and XXXTentacion who has two posthumous releases including his final album Bad Vibes Forever, families were a part of the decision making process behind the respective projects releasing, insuring fans that no wrongdoing would take place, and the music was left behind to further cement the legacy left behind by these talented individuals.
Which brings us to Pop Smoke, born Bashar Jackson in Canarsie, Brooklyn, Smoke was well on his way to making himself a household name. With Massive hits like “Welcome to the Party” and “Dior”, Pop Smoke was redefining the NewYork sound once again. During the year or so his career lasted, he was the centerpiece of the borough’s drill movement, a subgenre born and popularized in Chicago, and adopted and personalized by New York. By the time he was shot and killed at 20, Pop Smoke wasn’t just a rapper, he was the voice of the Brooklyn drill scene.
Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, Pop Smoke’s debut album, released posthumously, attempts to cement his legacy by expanding his range. Executive produced by his former mentor 50 Cent, The album on the surface seems to be the most polished and versatile project Smoke might have been able to produce. The record includes a star studded roster including Quavo, Lil Baby, Da Baby, Future and Roddy Rich amongst others creating a project that will easily find placements within Hip Hop DSP playlist. Although a case can be made that this album lacks the very thing that brought Pop to prominence in the first place, a thunderous voice over Uk grime beats that was finding placements between today's heavy hitters.
On Shoot for the stars Aim for the Moon We didn't need a lackluster attempt at a migos record on “Aim for the Moon.” Or a forced endeavor at a charting marathon with Lil Baby and DaBaby on “For the Night.” We could have done without Pop Smoke’s unfulling Cali-strip-club anthem with Tyga and DJ Mustard on “West Coast Shit.”Pop Smokes whole vibe was about restoring the feeling that some of his idols created like 50 cent, giving middle America a taste into the gritty Brooklyn lifestyle.
On the contrary this project has album cuts for days that truly highlight the direction in which Smoke was pushing his career. “44 Bulldog” is a return to form for Pop and sees him return to a true UK beat for him to slide over. “Snitching” sees Pop and Future go head to head to see who can use their voice more effectively. Or on “Enjoy Yourself” where Pop taps into his latin roots with colombian reggaeton singer Karol G. Or my personal favorite “What You Know Bout Love” which sees Ginuwine's “Differences” reworked for a dope gangster love song, which allowed Pop to show some diversity and growth as an artist.
Pop Smoke’s posthumous album Shoot for the stars Aim for the Moon showcases the multi faceted artist that Pop is and was growing to be, allowing for Pop to divert his sound into a plethora of pockets. Tragically, what hurts most is this is the proverbial end to a career that could have been the next big thing. R.I.P to Pop Smoke and thank you to his family and team for making one man's dream a reality.
By Georgette Smith