Probably the last person you’d expect to equip his beats with Ariana Grande samples, Pop Smoke delivers a vicious project about the harsh lifestyle he lives, on his follow up to 2019 standout Meet The Woo. The rapper, hailing from Brooklyn remains a breath of fresh air for the drill scene.
The most captivating thing about Pop Smoke is how he wears his influences on his sleeve. His growling tone is infectious, almost mimicking a hungry 50 Cent in his prime. But his beat selection is much different than Fifty’s, the sound originates from the UK.
It was only a matter of time before the murky, sinister style of UK Drill emerged into the States, and Pop Smoke is the shining star, working with London producer 808Melo. Over the past couple of years, the sound has creeped in, most notably being used by aggressive artists like 22Gz, Sheff G, and Bizzy Banks, but Pop Smoke has always been the biggest figure with hard-hitting Brooklyn anthems like Welcome To The Party and Dior.
However, at the start of a new decade, the sound is on an upward climb, with superstars like Travis Scott and Drake utilising AXL Beats production to hop on the wave whilst artists like Pop Smoke make their mark.
Of course, drill originated in Chicago, and is much different to the darker variant found in England. But these influences make Brooklyn drill an exciting step forward for the genre, and a promising sign of the impact the UK is having, with the sound reaching as far as Australia.
Pop Smoke’s debut was full of hits, and the same carries on to his follow up. For some artists, they’re once exciting sound gets stale very quickly (DaBaby). Of course, Pop Smoke never really varies his sound, and if he continues to release the same music, he may get tiring, but right now he is continuing his streak of in-your-face bangers.
This time round, Pop Smoke is a more well-known figure on the scene, with guest spots from Quavo, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and Lil Tjay. The opening track Invincible proves he is just that, with his braggadocio’s bars and references to his life of crime.
His music is fuelled by aggression, and his raps are definitely authentic - in 2019, Pop Smoke and 4 other acts were removed from New York’s Rolling Loud debut, due to “public safety concerns”, and “recent acts of violence citywide”, facing similar controversies as artists in the UK.
Get Back sounds very South London, from the scattered hi-hats to the booming 808s. Pop Smoke’s flow is simplistic, but energetic. Element sounds like an early 2000s bling-era banger with its Candy Shop-esque strings. It becomes clear as the project continues, the real driving factor of this project is the chemistry between Pop Smoke and producer 808Melo.
At only 20, he has his whole future ahead of him, but only if he plays his cards right – the most recent headline we read about Pop Smoke he was being charged for the theft of a $375,000 Rolls Royce. We’re excited to see where he takes the drill sound next, hopefully continuing his work with 808Melo, but we might need him to switch up his style if he wants a career of longevity.
Once again, Pop Smoke hits us with his heavy arsenal of malicious tracks. Much like how Mobb Deep sound-tracked New York crime in the nineties, It’s proving true that drill is the new theme music to murder.