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Pop Smoke - Meet The Woo

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Meet The Woo

Pop Smoke

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Drill has always been a tale of two cities: Chicago and London. After its explosion at the hands of Chi-town innovators like Chief Keef and Young Chop, the genre found reinvention overseas, where groups like 150 pulled its components in new directions. The result was two distinct scenes, drawn from the same thread yet diverse in their sonics. Enter Brooklyn. Typically known in rap circles as the birthplace of legends, the borough formed its own variant of drill in the late 2010s. Divided into two main allegiances, Woo and Cho, the scene has developed a stacked roster of standout performers -- Sheff G, Aladdin Xantander, and Dah Dah, among others -- yet remained firmly in the underground. That is, until Pop Smoke, whose single "Welcome to the Party" racked up millions of views on video streaming platforms in just a few weeks. As the first Brooklyn driller to break the mainstream, Smoke has become the scene's unofficial ambassador, the face of the genre to a wider public. Unfortunately for him, this proves more of a burden than a blessing: on his debut project, Meet the Woo, Smoke seems unable to consolidate his stylistic pursuits. The success of "Welcome to the Party" rides on synthesis; tapping from both Chicago and London, the song holds a distinctive Brooklyn character while retaining the genre's roots. It is this fusion that makes or breaks Smoke's music. Nowhere is this more evident than on "Hawk Em," where Smoke invokes U.K. drill's typical delayed start for the battle cry of "It's big 092MLBOA," before merging a set of iconic drill flows with his own. The same can be said of opener "Meet the Woo," which sees Smoke pair Brooklyn slang with references to Chief Keef and a U.K.-inspired beat from 808Melo. The success of these tracks lies in their balancing; through carefully blending his unique vocals with the genre's history, Smoke creates an unforgettable opening run. Often, however, Smoke misses drill's core appeal. While slower-flowing drillers like M Huncho have warped drill to match their vocals, Smoke has done no such thing -- his slushy tones, over rapidly shifting tracks like "Feeling" and "Brother Man," can sound sluggish rather than impactful. And when Smoke sounds at home on the track, he's often let down by writing. Drill's reliance on unique vocabularies and linguistic cultures is widely ignored, replaced with aimless trap clichés like "Digital dash, I be switching lanes." This, when combined with homophobic jabs and sludgy cadences, creates some of the artist's clunkiest work. What becomes apparent is Meet the Woo's lack of direction; from aimless style-mashing to rehashed lyrics, it's hard to see the album as anything more than a collision of styles. Of course, when balanced right, the album produces gems: "Hawk Em" is one of the scene's best tracks, and "Meet the Woo" lives up to Smoke's seemingly insurmountable hype. Yet while its explosive openers prove Smoke has all the talent to carry the scene forward, Meet the Woo flounders more than it flourishes. As well as a poor showing for Smoke, this is a disappointing mainstream statement from Brooklyn's otherwise vibrant scene.
© David Crone /TiVo

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Meet The Woo

Pop Smoke

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1
Meet the Woo
00:02:01

Jaycen Joshua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andre Loblack, ComposerLyricist - Dom Martin, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Pop Smoke, Rap Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - 808MeloBeats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Bashar Jackson, ComposerLyricist

Victor Victor Worldwide; ℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. (Victor Victor)

2
Welcome To The Party
00:03:34

Jaycen Joshua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - John Muller, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andre Loblack, ComposerLyricist - Dom Martin, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Pop Smoke, Rap Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - 808MeloBeats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Bashar Jackson, ComposerLyricist

Victor Victor; ℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. (Victor Victor)

3
Hawk Em
00:01:58

Jaycen Joshua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andre Loblack, Composer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - DJ Riggins, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Pop Smoke, Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - 808MeloBeats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Bashar Jackson, ComposerLyricist - Yung Ave, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

Victor Victor Worldwide; ℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. (Victor Victor)

4
Better Have Your Gun
00:03:19

Jaycen Joshua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Vic Wainstein, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andre Loblack, ComposerLyricist - Jacob Richards, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - DJ Riggins, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Pop Smoke, Rap Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - 808MeloBeats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Bashar Jackson, ComposerLyricist - Yung Ave, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Yoz Beats, Producer - Yosief Tafari, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

Victor Victor Worldwide; ℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. (Victor Victor)

5
Scenario
00:04:01

Jaycen Joshua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Andre Loblack, ComposerLyricist - Jacob Richards, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - DJ Riggins, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Pop Smoke, Rap Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - 808MeloBeats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Bashar Jackson, ComposerLyricist - Yung Ave, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

Victor Victor Worldwide; ℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. (Victor Victor)

6
Dior
00:03:36

Jaycen Joshua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Vic Wainstein, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andre Loblack, ComposerLyricist - Jacob Richards, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - DJ Riggins, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Pop Smoke, Rap Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - 808MeloBeats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Bashar Jackson, ComposerLyricist - Yung Ave, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

Victor Victor Worldwide; ℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. (Victor Victor)

7
Feeling
00:02:41

Jaycen Joshua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ricardo Lamarre, Composer - Rico Beats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Andre Loblack, Composer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Christopher Ulrich, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - DJ Riggins, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Pop Smoke, Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - 808MeloBeats, Producer - Bashar Jackson, ComposerLyricist

Victor Victor Worldwide; ℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. (Victor Victor)

8
PTSD
00:03:19

Jaycen Joshua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Vic Wainstein, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ricardo Lamarre, Composer - Rico Beats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Christopher Ulrich, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Pop Smoke, Rap Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Bashar Jackson, ComposerLyricist - Yung Ave, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

Victor Victor Worldwide; ℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. (Victor Victor)

9
Brother Man
00:03:02

Jaycen Joshua, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Ricardo Lamarre, Composer - Rico Beats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Andre Loblack, Composer - Jacob Richards, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Mike Seaberg, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - DJ Riggins, Assistant Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Pop Smoke, MainArtist - 808MeloBeats, Producer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer - Bashar Jackson, ComposerLyricist - Yung Ave, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

Victor Victor Worldwide; ℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. (Victor Victor)

Album Description

Drill has always been a tale of two cities: Chicago and London. After its explosion at the hands of Chi-town innovators like Chief Keef and Young Chop, the genre found reinvention overseas, where groups like 150 pulled its components in new directions. The result was two distinct scenes, drawn from the same thread yet diverse in their sonics. Enter Brooklyn. Typically known in rap circles as the birthplace of legends, the borough formed its own variant of drill in the late 2010s. Divided into two main allegiances, Woo and Cho, the scene has developed a stacked roster of standout performers -- Sheff G, Aladdin Xantander, and Dah Dah, among others -- yet remained firmly in the underground. That is, until Pop Smoke, whose single "Welcome to the Party" racked up millions of views on video streaming platforms in just a few weeks. As the first Brooklyn driller to break the mainstream, Smoke has become the scene's unofficial ambassador, the face of the genre to a wider public. Unfortunately for him, this proves more of a burden than a blessing: on his debut project, Meet the Woo, Smoke seems unable to consolidate his stylistic pursuits. The success of "Welcome to the Party" rides on synthesis; tapping from both Chicago and London, the song holds a distinctive Brooklyn character while retaining the genre's roots. It is this fusion that makes or breaks Smoke's music. Nowhere is this more evident than on "Hawk Em," where Smoke invokes U.K. drill's typical delayed start for the battle cry of "It's big 092MLBOA," before merging a set of iconic drill flows with his own. The same can be said of opener "Meet the Woo," which sees Smoke pair Brooklyn slang with references to Chief Keef and a U.K.-inspired beat from 808Melo. The success of these tracks lies in their balancing; through carefully blending his unique vocals with the genre's history, Smoke creates an unforgettable opening run. Often, however, Smoke misses drill's core appeal. While slower-flowing drillers like M Huncho have warped drill to match their vocals, Smoke has done no such thing -- his slushy tones, over rapidly shifting tracks like "Feeling" and "Brother Man," can sound sluggish rather than impactful. And when Smoke sounds at home on the track, he's often let down by writing. Drill's reliance on unique vocabularies and linguistic cultures is widely ignored, replaced with aimless trap clichés like "Digital dash, I be switching lanes." This, when combined with homophobic jabs and sludgy cadences, creates some of the artist's clunkiest work. What becomes apparent is Meet the Woo's lack of direction; from aimless style-mashing to rehashed lyrics, it's hard to see the album as anything more than a collision of styles. Of course, when balanced right, the album produces gems: "Hawk Em" is one of the scene's best tracks, and "Meet the Woo" lives up to Smoke's seemingly insurmountable hype. Yet while its explosive openers prove Smoke has all the talent to carry the scene forward, Meet the Woo flounders more than it flourishes. As well as a poor showing for Smoke, this is a disappointing mainstream statement from Brooklyn's otherwise vibrant scene.
© David Crone /TiVo

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