Pop-Smoke: Lessons from 2020’s Loss of a Legend


Pop Smoke, a young rapper who rapidly gained a following after releasing the track “Welcome to the Party,” last year, was killed in February 2020. Photo Courtesy of PASCAL LE SEGRETAIN / GETTY IMAGES.

Kalani Buggs

At age 20, Bashar Barakah Jackson, or as you know him by his stage name, Pop Smoke, was already regarded as one of the best rappers to ever live. Some may even argue that he was the best rapper of all time. Killed on February 19, 2020, his loss was one of many in this tumultuous year. Pop Smoke left behind his popular use of Brooklyn drill, a genre of rap he started to bring back and make more widely known before he was murdered.

Pop Smoke’s death put an immediate toll on the rap community because they were tired of hearing of another rapper dying to gun violence. As soon as he started, he had hits like “Welcome to the Party” and “Dior”. Pop Smoke was just getting started and showed how great he was going to be. He incorporated a certain energy into all his songs that made people want to listen more and be drawn in with his energy. Music listener and student at ERHS, Vincent Fleming, said that he was, “drawn to his music before he died because of the energy of it and how it would make people feel when it was turned on at parties and events. His music really helped make events more enjoyable.” 

People had mixed emotions about Pop Smoke. Some people loved him and others didn’t really listen to him. For example, student-athlete Kamari Buggs thought that, “Pop Smoke was one of the best rappers ever. The fact that he came into the rap game in late 2018 and already became a household name cemented that”. Vincent on the other hand, said he “didn’t really listen to his music often and I wasn’t really keeping up with him and his music but I did enjoy listening to a few of his more popular songs at the time.” ERHS student Ariana Lambert commented that she, “didn’t really keep up with Pop Smoke so I don’t really feel a way about him but I thought he was funny.” Even as people had mixed feelings about him and his music, he was still great.

Pop Smoke’s death was a tragedy and it was caused from murder and the use of social media. In the article “Police: Pop Smoke’s social media led killers to LA home,” the writer states, “Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who oversees the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division, said three men and two teenage boys likely went to the home because they knew Pop Smoke was there from social media posts.” The officer is basically saying that Pop Smoke’s death was most likely caused because of social media and him posting personal information, which led the murderers to his house, in which he was unfortunately killed by the burglars. We, in the ERHS community, need to spread awareness about the things we post on social media because it can either harm us physically or mentally. Since everyone in the ERHS community are big music listeners, we can spread the death of Pop Smoke as an example of what not to post so we don’t lose another rapper because Pop Smoke’s death took a toll on a lot of people, including me. Vincent believes that, “people, especially those with a large following should definitely be very very careful on what they post on social media because certain things may get out unintentionally which is what led to the death of Pop Smoke unfortunately.” So, we need to really be careful on what we post.

We can’t keep letting people die from gun violence. We need to use a resource, our voice, to stop gun violence from spreading. We can’t have another mogul, like Pop Smoke, die from gun violence because all it does is tear us apart. Fleming believes that he can, “help lower gun violence by using my voice to talk to the people I know and tell them that gun violence is not cool and that more gun violence leads to more sadness, anger and fear in our community which we don’t need.” Buggs also believes that, “we should push for more laws that would limit selling and getting guns, which would definitely help lower gun violence.” 

All in all, Pop Smoke was a legend in the making who lost his life too soon. In the article “Pop Smoke’s First And Final Album Falls Between Two Worlds”, the writer states, “In his absence, we’re left only with snapshots of his potential, possibilities refracted through other people’s imaginations and suspended now within the span of the album.” Everyone agreed that he would have been great. In conclusion, we can all agree that he would have been one of the best rappers of all time because he was only scratching the surface on how great he was going to be. Rest in peace, Pop Smoke. You will be missed!