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What will be Pop Smoke’s legacy?

Rapper Pop Smoke’s first posthumous single gives us a sneak peek at his upcoming album

Though rapper Pop Smoke passed away in February, his legacy continues with the anticipated release of a posthumous album.
Though rapper Pop Smoke passed away in February, his legacy continues with the anticipated release of a posthumous album.

The new single “Make it Rain” by rappers Pop Smoke and Rowdy Rebel was released on June 12, 2020. Recorded before his death, “Make it Rain” is Pop Smoke’s tenth single as a lead artist, and is already making its way up the charts. It comes at the intersection of a global pandemic, economic crises and global protests against police brutality that followed the slaying of George Floyd. 

Bashar Jackson, known professionally as Pop Smoke, was murdered on Feb 19, 2020, in a home invasion in Los Angeles. His death came 12 days after the release of his last full album — “Meet The Woo 2.” Despite his passing, he had more music recorded at the time of his death as he was preparing for his next album. The upcoming album consisting of this music will be a part of the continuing trend of posthumously released albums that feature a full track list of songs — serving as a final legacy for an artist. Based on the positive reception for the single “Make it Rain,” it is likely that Pop Smoke’s upcoming album will gain a similar response and be held in high regard. 

“Make it Rain” is a precursor to the upcoming, currently untitled album initially planned for release on June 12. However, the 13-track album is now scheduled to release for streaming July 3 — the delay in the album intended to show respect for the protestors currently taking to the streets to fight injustice and police brutality in light of the recent death of George Floyd. 

“Music is the tool of revolution,” Steven Victor, CEO of Victor Victor Worldwide said in an Instagram post. “We have been watching, along with the rest of the world, as long overdue change starts to take root. We have seen Pop’s music become the soundtrack of the moment, unifying the masses.”

The delay in the album for this reason may have been influenced by New York rapper 50 Cent who reportedly served as an executive-producer on the upcoming album. 50 Cent has been very vocal on social media against police brutality and supporting protestors who are on the ground across the globe, and Pop Smoke has said his inspiration came in part from the music of 50 Cent.

Pop Smoke’s music features imagery of war in the streets and it has often been co-opted by protestors for both its loudness and references to ending oppression. His music has also been present throughout the protests as a unifying point to keep people energized during standoffs. Much like earlier hits such as “Welcome to the Party” and “Dior,” “Make it Rain” is another take on the classic party song. In this song and others, he raps about living a lavish lifestyle in designer clubs and experiencing fame. The term “make it rain,” specifically, is associated with club culture and the disposable money of his lifestyle. 

The verse from the featured artist is another highlight of the song — Rowdy Rebel was incarcerated at the time of the track's recording. His verse is delivered over the phone from the prison he resides in. This format supports Pop Smoke’s grittier sound — created by his gruff, raspy voice and Brooklyn accent. 

“Make it Rain” is the start of the final era for rapper Pop Smoke and the beginning of his lasting legacy on the world of music. The upcoming untitled album has big shoes to fill after earlier mixtapes “Meet the Woo” and “Meet the Woo 2,” but given the way “Make it Rain” fits so effortlessly into his sound, it is clear that the upcoming album will be a welcome addition to his catalogue.