Rap star Pop Smoke was tragically murdered on Feb. 19. at the young age of 20. Following the release of his second album, “Meet the Woo 2” he was poised to become a star in hip-hop and give the New York hip-hop scene the spark it needed. The murder happened in the rental home of “Real Housvies of Beverly Hills” star, Teddi Mellencamp, in Beverly Hills and appeared to be a home invasion.
One of the biggest impacts of Pop Smoke’s death was New York City losing its biggest rap star. Being the Mecca of hip-hop, New York ran hip-hop for the first 30 years of the genre’s cultivation. However, after several personal feuds between New York rappers, the city took a decline and the focus of hip-hop shifted to Atlanta. Ever since then, New York has been looking for one rapper to come by and reclaim its spot as hip-hop’s powerhouse, despite success from rappers such as A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$, Dave East, Bobby Shmurda and several others. It seemed as if Pop Smoke would take that crown.
His signature sound, known as “New York Drill,” similar to the 2012 Chicago Drill subgenre of hip-hop made popular by Chief Keef, was beginning to take over the New York hip-hop scene. Known for its lyricism and beats with soul samples and drum loops, this sound was much different and was closer to the sound of Atlanta, which features catchy hooks and 808 drums.
Another unfortunate aspect of Pop Smoke’s death is the continued trend of young rappers being killed at a very young age before we as hip-hop fans get to see their full potential. In the mid- 1990’s, 2Pac and The Notorious BIG were the two biggest hip-hop stars in the world, both murdered at very young ages (Pac, 25 and BIG 24). Another rapper in the 1990’s, Big L, was also murdered at the young age of 24. Ever since then, there is a feeling that rappers that experience success at a very young age are subject to be murdered.
Unfortunately, murder at a young age is synonymus is hip-hop. According to an article on theconversation.com, over 50 percent of deaths in hip-hop have been a result of murder, which is a notable gap between the rest of the genres. Also, the average age of hip-hop deaths stays right around 28 years old. Pop Smoke’s occurred less than two years after the murder of rapper XXXtentacion, who was also only 20. Hopefully, this trend will cease to exist and rappers, young and old will be able to have a career without the fear of having their lives taken. Pop Smoke will not be forgotten. The city of New York and all of his fans will continue to let him live through his music.