The rap world was devastated by the untimely passing of Pop Smoke, who was gunned down
in a home invasion and robbery in February 2020.
The up-and-coming artist had only just begun his career, topping the charts with a pioneering
sound before his life was cut short.
According to TMZ, the incident that took Pop Smoke's life occurred following a house party
in the Hollywood Hills.
At around 4:30 a.m., at least four masked men reportedly broke in, fired multiple shots,
and fatally injured the rapper.
The attack may have come about thanks to information on social media.
According to TMZ, the 20-year-old was possibly renting a house - the same house that was
invaded - from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Teddi Mellencamp, the daughter of John
Prior to his death, Pop Smoke posted a location-tagged Instagram Story.
He also posted several photos where he flexed his Louis Vuitton luggage while his friend
Mike Dee held wads of cash.
TMZ reported that the posts may have accidentally revealed the address of the property, making
him a target for attack.
Pop Smoke never really intended to be a rapper.
Before jumping into a career in the music industry, he was an active athlete who played
baseball, football, and basketball.
Smoke grew up Bashar Jackson in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
While in school, he earned a full scholarship to Rocktop Academy, a sports-minded prep school
in the Philadelphia suburbs, and may have been on track for college basketball glory.
Unfortunately, Smoke's basketball career was short-lived.
XXL revealed that Smoke was diagnosed with a heart-murmur at the age 15, and was permanently
benched from competitive sports as a result.
According to The Fader, he ultimately left the school and returned home after getting
into some trouble on the streets.
He told the outlet,
"You can take the kid out the hood, but you can't take the hood out the kid.
I went to go get some food [in Philly]... these guys were in front of the corner store,
I walk in to the spot, they said some crazy s--- to me, and we just end up rumbling."
Pop Smoke might have briefly had a full scholarship, but according to The New York Times, the rapper
lived a high-risk, high reward lifestyle throughout much of his teens.
He claimed to have been kicked out of the eighth grade after bringing a gun to school,
and told XXL that he started selling drugs when he returned home from prep school.
By the time he was 16 years old, he was driving a BMW 5 Series - and it's safe to say, not
many kids who just get their learner's permit have that expensive of a car.
He told the New York Times,
"You like nice things, you got to do things to get nice things."
It's widely reported that the star also spent two years under house arrest for a since-dismissed
weapons charge, and at the time of his New York Times interview, he had only recently
gotten his ankle bracelet removed.
Apparently, house arrest wasn't even all that tough for the rapper.
He told XXL that he spent most of his time reading - and getting up to a little romance
with some friendly house calls.
Pop Smoke's career was a total accident.
Turns out, if it weren't for some very good weed, we may have never met the Woo.
Smoke told XXL that he picked up a microphone for the first time when recording the song
"MPR" in 2018.
He was visiting a studio in Brooklyn with his friend and then-fledgling rapper Jay Gwuapo,
but Gwuapo smoked too much and fell asleep.
While Gwuapo was snoozing, Smoke decided to jump in the vocal booth and give it a whirl.
He downloaded a random beat from YouTube, which according to The Fader, was created
by 808Melo, an East London-based producer who later became one of the rapper's close
"MPR" was a success right out of the gate.
Smoke told The Fader,
"I knew it hit because it got leaked, and when it leaked, everybody was jacking the
And when it hit I was like, Yo, we got something here, and I kept going."
He signed to Victor Victor Worldwide, a Universal subsidiary, shortly after.
It doesn't take a lot of time for true brilliance to shine.
Pop Smoke's song "Welcome to the Party" became a summer anthem when Nicki Minaj jumped in
on the remix in 2019."
In an interview with The Fader, Smoke claimed he laid down most of the song's foundation
in about 30 minutes.
Pop Smoke's career was still rising when his non-performance at the Rolling Loud Festival
in New York City made him a tristate area household name.
The star was one of five acts - including 22Gz, Casanova, Sheff G, and Don Q - that
the NYPD banned from playing the show.
In a letter to the festival, the police expressed fears that the rappers' performances would
lead to a risk of violence.
Pop Smoke only found out he wasn't allowed to perform at Rolling Loud the day before
the gig, and it seemed like his performance at Powerhouse Live, a pre-party for Power
105.1's annual concert, was canceled for the same reason.
The artists affected protested this treatment by the police, even as the shutdown brought
Rolling Loud maintained that all artists were paid and offered slots at other festivals
around the country.
The Rolling Loud Festival wasn't the only time Pop Smoke dealt with the NYPD.
In January 2020, the star was arrested at JFK Airport before a scheduled concert in
New York City.
According to the New York Times, the star was charged with interstate transportation
of a stolen vehicle.
Per the Times, the owner of the $375,000 Rolls-Royce lent the car to the rapper for a single day
When it came time to return it, the rapper was reportedly MIA, so the owner GPS-tracked
the car and found out it was traveling through Arizona, miles away from where it started
in Los Angeles.
A few days later, Pop Smoke posted a photo on Instagram that showed the Rolls-Royce in
The car was ultimately recovered by police in Brooklyn outside of Pop Smoke's mother's
home with a new license plate and tinted windows.
Investigators believed the rapper was responsible for arranging it to be taken cross-country
on a flatbed truck, but Pop Smoke pleaded not guilty.
Pop Smoke never expected massive rap success.
In an interview with The Fader, he revealed that he initially had dreams to go to Howard
University and join a fraternity.
As he put it,
"It wasn't always rapping.
Who would have thought I would be a rapper?"
The "War" rapper built his empire off the backs of his friends and hard work.
He purposely kept his efforts as DIY as possible, with a tenacious sense of confidence.
He told The Fader,
"That was my goal - do it by yourself, beat the odds.
Cuz when you do it by yourself, it hit different.
I always knew, I'mma be a millionaire.
I always knew I was gonna have bread."
Despite his success, rap was never going to be Pop Smoke's end game.
The rapper told XXL that it was just another step in his life, adding,
"There's no telling what I might do after this."
Tragically, he died too soon.
Rest in peace, Pop Smoke.