Pop Smoke is an innovative artist whose influence has taken the hip-hop scene to new heights. Between 808 slides, riled up arrangements, and a sinister-like chuckle lies a deep-toned baritone that’s surely unmatched by his competitors. This time around on his posthumous album, Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon, Pop Smoke stays true to the tonality he possesses, all while presenting versatility in both his cadences and beat selection. The staple, production-wise, is a twinkling sound effect that symbolically links to the album’s name. From a lyrical standpoint, you’ll come to know that Pop Smoke lived by the “don’t take my kindness for weakness” adage. Songs like “West Coast Shit (ft. Tyga and Quavo),” see the Meet The Woo star addressing someone who does just that. “I’m in that new Dior, Quay in that Prada/Don’t get it confused, I’ll drop him,” he raps with a slight growl, “Four-door niggas ridin’ strap, get straight hacked to the back/We don’t play disrespect, real talk this not just rap.”
In other parts of the album, Pop Smoke also unveils that it’s hard to trust others because “they not a hundred,” which he states in the boomy-bass centered “Make It Rain (ft. Rowdy Rebel).” Not to mention, he proves that hard work does pay off when going in-depth about his previous endeavors. He’s appreciative of all the opportunities that came his way. Take, for instance, “Tunnel Vision.” Between lyrics, Pop Smoke spits, “And I’m from the fields (Woo), now it’s million-dollar deals (Woo)” then “Look, God gave me a lot in some months, but it could go in a second/If I fuck the wrong bitch (Woo) or walk-up in the wrong session.”
The 19-track effort also carries a slew of features from artists like Quavo, Lil Baby, DaBaby, Swae Lee, Roddy Ricch, Lil Tjay, KAROL G, Tyga, King Combs, Future, Rowdy Rebel, and Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon’s producer, 50 Cent. Likewise, the former G-Unit member anonymously influences the beat found in “For The Night,” “Got It On Me,” and “Gangstas.” Pop Smoke also raps on sampled beats. For example, “Something Special” uses the production from R&B singer, Tamia‘s “So Into You,” and “What You Know” uses the beat from Genuine‘s “Differences,” except it’s more fast-paced.
Case in point, Pop Smoke’s musical styling embodies the different kinds of energy that he brought to the table, all while paying homage to his hometown, Brooklyn, New York. “He wasn’t a product of label dollars and marketing but a homegrown hero whose legend traveled the old-school way: word of mouth,” said Briana Younger of the New Yorker. By matching the drill sound with combative lyrics, people from all over find a common denominator whenever a Pop Smoke tune blasts from the speakers. They can’t help but feel more assertive, energetic, and in-the-moment.
“The energy he brought was different” Malluchi Boateng’s friend, Jamie, told BBC News, “you can’t listen to a Pop Smoke song and be sad.” Some also say that he got the UK and US music scene acquainted. He often worked with East London producer 808Melo, who helped to shape a sound that resonated with London’s.
Pop Smoke’s last album, Meet The Woo 2, debuted at No 7. on the Billboard 200, but before this, the lyricist gained well-deserved recognition following his smash-hit, “Welcome To The Party.” Afterward, the star ascended the charts with songs like “Dior,” which charted on the Billboard Hot 100, “Christopher Walking,” and his feature on Travis Scott’s “GATTI.” Then, he dropped his mixtape, Meet The Woo (2019). In the wake of his emergence, he sadly passed away on the morning of February 19th, 2020, when he was murdered during a home invasion in the Hollywood Hills. Until this day, the mystery remains unsolved. Still, his authentic approach lives on forever. “The speed with which hip-hop superstars like Travis Scott and Nicki Minaj were gravitating toward him for collaborations portended great things, suggests that the king of New York might someday become the king of everywhere else, too,” adds The New York Timer’s writer, Jon Caramanica.
With all things considered, it can be said that Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon is a project that shies away from the “skip” button and urges one to press “repeat” instead. Each song shows off a different skill of his. “The Woo,” for example, showcases Pop Smoke’s melodic side, whereas in “Diana (ft. King Combs),” Pop Smoke works off his charm with a mesmerizing rap delivery. Standout tracks include, “44 Bulldog,” “Creature (ft. Swae Lee),” and “Snitching (ft. Quavo and Future).” But in all honesty, you should give all the songs a thorough listen.
Steven Victor, head of the Victor Victor record label and manager of the departed rapper, kept a close eye on the album’s final touches. During his interview with Rap Life, Victor recalled how 50 Cent pushed him to release the album. “50 was like, ‘You can’t be depressed and stop the legacy that he was building. How do you expect everyone around him, in terms of his family, to benefit from all the work that he put in? It would almost be like everything happened in vain if you don’t put the album out,'” Victor said.
Virgil Abloh initially created the artwork for Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon before receiving massive backlash from fans about its “poorly done” design. The new design closely resembles a silver-encrusted rose. “
This album is a celebration of where Pop was headed and where he wanted to be,” his manager said in a statement “Pop’s music and legacy belong to the world now and we want you to continue to manifest your love in creative ways that we haven’t even thought of yet.”
Listen to Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon by Pop Smoke below and let us know which tracks you enjoy the most.