- The Boy’s King in Brooklyn was murdered before he could release his debut album.
- But a year after his death, his music was more significant than ever. Thomas Hobbes pays homage.
Gangster rapper Pop Smoke must lead American hip-hop into an exciting new era. Her quirky dry singing suggests that she eats cigarettes for breakfast every morning. The carefree tenacity that permeates his music even has him repeating the word “OK” – which quickly became a meme – sounds like it might become a record hit.
Exciting pop-smoke tracks like “Christopher Walking,” “Welcome to the Party,” and “Invincible” spill energy freefalling between two skyscrapers, noses pounding from behind, while street-smart MCs transform convincingly into black superhero forms.
Last summer, the rapper’s 2019 single “Dior” became fuel for the Black Lived Matter movement when videos of dancing demonstrators appeared next to him as they marched through New York and changed their chorus to “George Floyd.”
As a result, Pitchfork referred to the song as a “radical” addition to the protest music canon, as Smoke’s low growl and belief in the outside world suggested challenge and high stature. At Dior, he vowed to “raise hell” until a friend is released from prison, a message that fits perfectly with those who want justice after Floyd’s Death.
The tragically grown-up rapper had never seen Dior spark a social revolution – he has shot dead a year ago, on February 19, 2020, during a home invasion of a rental house in the Hollywood Hills. Four people were charged with murder.
In the United States, the single continued to claim number one on the charts and dominate the airwaves. The posthumous single “What You Know Bout Love” topped the US rhythmic radio charts last month – a chart based on radio stations whose playlists are mostly R&B/hip-hop/pop hits – as long as her song “For The Night” (Featuring DaBaby) and Lil Baby) is now one of the top five songs in town.
The combined stream of these two songs on Spotify is nearly 1 billion. In addition, pop’s posthumous album Smoke Shoots Aim for the Moon, a series of pieces that have not been released since his death, has now topped the Billboard 200 twice. He debuted in first place last July and is currently third and has hit an impressive 31 weeks in the rankings.
“People never get tired of the songs,” said Paris Nicole, program director at Philadelphia hip-hop station WPHI/103.9, adding an obvious question to Billboard’s question about why Pop Smoke’s music was so popular.