Life after Death: The Posthumous Ascent of a Rap Newcomer

Rising rapper Pop Smoke passed away this past February. Since his death, his music has become more popular than ever and has left many fans grateful, but also wondering what his future could have held.


Alex Bates, Staff

Up-and-coming rapper Pop Smoke was killed in a home invasion this past February. He may not be as well known as hip-hop giants like Drake or Kanye West, but his music’s popularity among young people rivals more famous artists.

Every song on his posthumous album, “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon,” charted on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at the number one spot on the charts.

Pop Smoke was at the forefront of the New York drill scene, a genre of hip-hop exported from the U.K. and centered around raw and gritty vocals.

His deep voice and rough vocals made him stand out compared to many rappers who rely on autotune. His popularity was the driving force behind this sound entering the mainstream where it is staying even after his untimely death.

Senior Devin Hernandez said that “his melodic flow and lyrics over drill beats are what makes him so unique.”

His posthumous rise in popularity can partly be attributed to the popular video-sharing app TikTok.

Many of his songs such as “Mood Swings” were part of viral trends and have over 100 million views. His catchy melodies and flows combined with the silly dances of users helped to spread his music to new audiences who may not have heard of him before. “I really only started to listen to him after he died,” senior Max Grotstein said.

His legacy is one of a certified hit-maker, yet we are left wondering at how great he truly could have been.

On his posthumous album, he unveiled singing talents that no one knew he had. “It’s a shame that we lost him at such a young age, as we will never truly understand the potential he had,” junior Freddie Russell said.

Even though we lost Pop Smoke, his impact still remains. Every Wednesday, his fans use Instagram and Twitter to share their favorite clips of him, in a celebration titled Woo Wednesday after his signature “woo” ad-lib.

During the George Floyd Protests this past summer, his song “Dior” became the unofficial theme as a mark of resistance.

Although he is gone, his music will continue to be enjoyed by many and hopefully, more of his unreleased music will see the light of day.