While covering Pop Smoke’s highly-anticipated Meet The Woo 2 mixtape back in February, one of my closing points spoke in high regards to his trajectory as an artist, and mentioned that he would “be around for many years to come”. To be such a new artist and have the amount of promise that Pop Smoke had, there was no way anyone could deny the fact that he was ready to take over the world. While 2019 laid the groundwork, 2020 would be the year where Pop Smoke would finally get his just due and become a mainstay amongst the many other emerging stars. It was a huge shock to the music industry to learn that Pop Smoke had been killed not even two weeks after the release of his Meet the Woo 2 mixtape. To be taken from us so suddenly, it was almost unbelievable–that a kid with this much promise, talent, and star power could be taken from us like that. While he is no longer with us physically, his contagious energy is here forever, and the wonderful minds that have blessed the fans with his debut album, Shoot for the Starts, Aim for the Moon.
Releasing an album posthumously is by no means an easy assignment, and it takes a determined team of individuals, savvy music minds, and trusted souls to be able to take on the task of putting together an album for someone who is no longer here with us to approve of it all. One thing is for sure, that Pop Smoke was someone who was very particular about his work. He knew what sounded good, what would get people moving, and what would last forever. This is proven, due to the fact that his music that was released well over a year ago is still ringing off today. Being a New York native, Pop Smoke had a mind of his own, but he was always compared to the legendary 50 Cent. Not necessarily because of his music sounding like him, but just the aura that emitted from his body. A lot of people saw a younger 50 Cent when they looked at Pop Smoke. That said, it was a no brainer that 50 Cent had to hop on board and agree to finish Pop Smoke’s debut and posthumous album for him. Say what you want about 50, but the mastermind that he is, he knows how to handle executive producing something. His ear for music or better yet, talent as a whole, has always been something to be admired, and it seeps through every single bar and beat on Pop Smoke’s album.
The Brooklyn drill scene and musical style has been something that has been becoming more and more prominent as the months go by–with Pop Smoke being a big advocate and contributor to that. However, while Meet the Woo 2 was full of vibes that align with that, Shoot for the Stars has a handful of those type of songs, and then some–aiming to broaden his skillset and showcase more of his musical abilities, successfully so. On “For The Night”, Pop Smoke recruited Lil Baby AND DaBaby on this one, to deliver a wavy anthem that delivers on all aspects. Being the executive producer, 50 Cent tries his best to avoid forcing himself over every single song and bombarding us with features. Instead, he is featured on only one song on this one, rightfully titled “The Woo” featuring Roddy Ricch. Other features include Quavo, Future, Lil Tjay, Tyga, and the jail-call feature from Rowdy Rebel on :”Make it Rain”.
One of the best things about receiving the executive production of 50 Cent, is the fact that he really came through and made a lot of things possible on this one. Sample clearances are always an issue in the rap game, but 50 managed to obtain the rights to use the beat from Fabulous’ classic hit “Into You” and remake it with Pop Smoke’s version, “Something Special”. On top of that, Pop Smoke also rapped on his own rendition of 50 Cent’s “Many Men”. His version titled “Got It On Me” flips the classic hook from “Many Men” and modernizes it. It also ends with an acapella version of the hook, which is definitely the tear-jerker hearing him harmonize like that, knowing that Pop Smoke is no longer with us. Pop Smoke really wanted to show off to the world just how versatile it is. While the world loves and enjoys him over Brooklyn drill beats, his experimental ability will always be respected amongst all.
The longevity of Pop Smoke will never be in question. He still has tons of his old music still getting spins, and in fact, his classic summer smash “Dior” makes an appearance on this album as well. Regardless of already being released on two projects before, it still serves as a non-skippable song, and that proves something. For those who may not have given him the listen he deserved while he was alive, Shoot for the Stars is an album that is by far the most diverse that we have seen from him, and it was created with the tender loving care that it deserves. His legacy will forever be handled with care, and we will continue to praise the Big Woo for as long as we live.
Rest In Peace, Pop Smoke.
Stream the posthumous album by Pop Smoke, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, below!