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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 3, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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We have never seen a posthumous album hit the shelves so quickly after the death of an artist. Murdered on the 19th of February, 2020, at the age of 20, Pop Smoke immediately became the subject of resurrection projects. With Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, produced by his mentor 50 Cent, it’s as if Pop Smoke has been brought back to life. Let us be clear: Pop Smoke is transformed on this album. This album is not about recording in continuity of who he was, namely the figurehead of the Brooklyn drill scene. The aim here is to take Pop Smoke a step forward without asking his permission. There are of course tracks that sound very Pop Smoke such as 44BullDog and Make It Rain, but how many are attempts to enter charts and playlists at any cost? The album includes Something Special, a syrupy tracks with early-2000 Bad Boy Records similarities and Got It on Me, which sounds like it could have been made for 50 Cent himself. New R&B flavours can be heard on Diana (featuring King Combs), curious sombre club rap sounds on West Coast Shit (with Tyga and Quavo) and some latin pop grooves on Enjoy Yourself. Pop Smoke’s strengths are somewhat dismissed in favour of track diversity and the exploration of new musical territory. Diehard fans will object but the wider public will no doubt be won over by this album. It’s daring, and at least you won’t get bored. © Brice Miclet/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 7, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 20, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

The success of a posthumous album often rides on how much it feels like a posthumous album. Heightened by the grey ethics around a post-mortem release, the results of these projects are polarizing to say the least, ranging from the legacy-affirming Circles to the parodic insult of "Jah on Drums." Regrettably, Pop Smoke's Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon (SFTSAFTM) lands firmly in the latter category: the elephant of the rapper's death is not just in the room, but strutting back and forth in front of the camera, dollar bills flying from its trunk. On first listen, the gap between Smoke's catalog and the radio-ready SFTSAFTM is vast. Gone are all traces of the rapper's place atop the Brooklyn drill movement, booming drill beats replaced by glitzy trap flair and empty basses. 808Melo, the force-behind-the-boards for Smoke's entire career, is entirely side-lined, appearing on just four of the album's 18 original tracks. SFTSAFTM's features tell the same story. Instead of contemporaries like Fivio Foreign and Rah Swish, we're given a who's-who of radio rap, with artists like Tyga and Karol G creeping their way onto the track list. Often, Smoke isn't even given the dignity of a first verse, with featured artists muscling their way in ahead of the late rapper on tracks like "The Woo" and "Diana." High-quality anthems with Smoke's collaborators -- Trap Manny's excellent "50K," Rah Swish's explosive "Double It" -- are notably absent. Yet the rapper's sheer charisma still manages to cut through: "44 Bulldog," "Tunnel Vision," and "Make It Rain" are excellent drill cuts, while "Gangstas" provides a refreshing change of pace for the Brooklyn star. While far from a new joint, it's immensely satisfying to finally hear "Many Men" (here titled "Got It on Me") in HQ, too. Other highlights arrive from the unreleased Huncho Woo mixtape ("Aim for the Moon," "Snitching"), but even these have been tinkered with, with Tyga squeezing his way ahead of the Quavo/Pop duo on "West Coast Shit." While the album holds merit purely on the basis that it gives us more of Smoke's unreleased catalog, the industry tampering is often too much to bear. Though the first two volumes of Meet the Woo lacked the bombast of Smoke's iconic singles, they demonstrated candor in their representation of the drill heavyweight; SFTSAFTM, by contrast, tarnishes the rapper's visionary style with predatory glitz as everyone jumps for a piece of the pie. © David Crone /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 26, 2019 | Victor Victor Worldwide - Republic Records

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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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 20, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

The success of a posthumous album often rides on how much it feels like a posthumous album. Heightened by the grey ethics around a post-mortem release, the results of these projects are polarizing to say the least, ranging from the legacy-affirming Circles to the parodic insult of "Jah on Drums." Regrettably, Pop Smoke's Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon (SFTSAFTM) lands firmly in the latter category: the elephant of the rapper's death is not just in the room, but strutting back and forth in front of the camera, dollar bills flying from its trunk. On first listen, the gap between Smoke's catalog and the radio-ready SFTSAFTM is vast. Gone are all traces of the rapper's place atop the Brooklyn drill movement, booming drill beats replaced by glitzy trap flair and empty basses. 808Melo, the force-behind-the-boards for Smoke's entire career, is entirely side-lined, appearing on just four of the album's 18 original tracks. SFTSAFTM's features tell the same story. Instead of contemporaries like Fivio Foreign and Rah Swish, we're given a who's-who of radio rap, with artists like Tyga and Karol G creeping their way onto the track list. Often, Smoke isn't even given the dignity of a first verse, with featured artists muscling their way in ahead of the late rapper on tracks like "The Woo" and "Diana." High-quality anthems with Smoke's collaborators -- Trap Manny's excellent "50K," Rah Swish's explosive "Double It" -- are notably absent. Yet the rapper's sheer charisma still manages to cut through: "44 Bulldog," "Tunnel Vision," and "Make It Rain" are excellent drill cuts, while "Gangstas" provides a refreshing change of pace for the Brooklyn star. While far from a new joint, it's immensely satisfying to finally hear "Many Men" (here titled "Got It on Me") in HQ, too. Other highlights arrive from the unreleased Huncho Woo mixtape ("Aim for the Moon," "Snitching"), but even these have been tinkered with, with Tyga squeezing his way ahead of the Quavo/Pop duo on "West Coast Shit." While the album holds merit purely on the basis that it gives us more of Smoke's unreleased catalog, the industry tampering is often too much to bear. Though the first two volumes of Meet the Woo lacked the bombast of Smoke's iconic singles, they demonstrated candor in their representation of the drill heavyweight; SFTSAFTM, by contrast, tarnishes the rapper's visionary style with predatory glitz as everyone jumps for a piece of the pie. © David Crone /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 3, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 12, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

Brooklyn drill rapper Pop Smoke picked up on the momentum of his 2019 debut Meet the Woo with second mixtape Meet the Woo, Vol. 2 just a few months later. The project is defined by Smoke's puffed-up confidence and deep, husky vocals that teeter between sinister charisma and all-out menace. Production is handled by Yoz Beatz, 808Melo, and several others, and the instrumentals match Smoke's dark-edged persona with room-shaking bass that leaves just enough room for moody samples. Lil Tjay shows up on both the lurching and trappy ode to wealth "War" and "Mannequin," and other guests include Quavo, Fivio Foreign, and A Boogie Wit da Hoodie on the grimy album standout "Foreigner." When Pop Smoke goes it alone, his no-holds-barred style feels relentless and unstoppable. "Dior" is Smoke at the height of his powers, throwing bars effortlessly and riding an explosive beat typical to the blunt, aggressive feel that flows through the entire mixtape. This unrelentingly raw energy is what makes Meet the Woo, Vol. 2 some of Pop Smoke's best material. Every song walks a razor-thin line between fun and danger, thick with the same tension that fills the room right before a fight breaks out. Pop Smoke keeps this tension hanging for the entire duration of the tape, creating something that's exhilaratingly bleak and always ready to explode. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 12, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 7, 2020 | Republic Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 3, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

The success of a posthumous album often rides on how much it feels like a posthumous album. Heightened by the grey ethics around a post-mortem release, the results of these projects are polarizing to say the least, ranging from the legacy-affirming Circles to the parodic insult of "Jah on Drums." Regrettably, Pop Smoke's Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon (SFTSAFTM) lands firmly in the latter category: the elephant of the rapper's death is not just in the room, but strutting back and forth in front of the camera, dollar bills flying from its trunk. On first listen, the gap between Smoke's catalog and the radio-ready SFTSAFTM is vast. Gone are all traces of the rapper's place atop the Brooklyn drill movement, booming drill beats replaced by glitzy trap flair and empty basses. 808Melo, the force-behind-the-boards for Smoke's entire career, is entirely side-lined, appearing on just four of the album's 18 original tracks. SFTSAFTM's features tell the same story. Instead of contemporaries like Fivio Foreign and Rah Swish, we're given a who's-who of radio rap, with artists like Tyga and Karol G creeping their way onto the track list. Often, Smoke isn't even given the dignity of a first verse, with featured artists muscling their way in ahead of the late rapper on tracks like "The Woo" and "Diana." High-quality anthems with Smoke's collaborators -- Trap Manny's excellent "50K," Rah Swish's explosive "Double It" -- are notably absent. Yet the rapper's sheer charisma still manages to cut through: "44 Bulldog," "Tunnel Vision," and "Make It Rain" are excellent drill cuts, while "Gangstas" provides a refreshing change of pace for the Brooklyn star. While far from a new joint, it's immensely satisfying to finally hear "Many Men" (here titled "Got It on Me") in HQ, too. Other highlights arrive from the unreleased Huncho Woo mixtape ("Aim for the Moon," "Snitching"), but even these have been tinkered with, with Tyga squeezing his way ahead of the Quavo/Pop duo on "West Coast Shit." While the album holds merit purely on the basis that it gives us more of Smoke's unreleased catalog, the industry tampering is often too much to bear. Though the first two volumes of Meet the Woo lacked the bombast of Smoke's iconic singles, they demonstrated candor in their representation of the drill heavyweight; SFTSAFTM, by contrast, tarnishes the rapper's visionary style with predatory glitz as everyone jumps for a piece of the pie. © David Crone /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 7, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

Brooklyn drill rapper Pop Smoke picked up on the momentum of his 2019 debut Meet the Woo with second mixtape Meet the Woo, Vol. 2 just a few months later. The project is defined by Smoke's puffed-up confidence and deep, husky vocals that teeter between sinister charisma and all-out menace. Production is handled by Yoz Beatz, 808Melo, and several others, and the instrumentals match Smoke's dark-edged persona with room-shaking bass that leaves just enough room for moody samples. Lil Tjay shows up on both the lurching and trappy ode to wealth "War" and "Mannequin," and other guests include Quavo, Fivio Foreign, and A Boogie Wit da Hoodie on the grimy album standout "Foreigner." When Pop Smoke goes it alone, his no-holds-barred style feels relentless and unstoppable. "Dior" is Smoke at the height of his powers, throwing bars effortlessly and riding an explosive beat typical to the blunt, aggressive feel that flows through the entire mixtape. This unrelentingly raw energy is what makes Meet the Woo, Vol. 2 some of Pop Smoke's best material. Every song walks a razor-thin line between fun and danger, thick with the same tension that fills the room right before a fight breaks out. Pop Smoke keeps this tension hanging for the entire duration of the tape, creating something that's exhilaratingly bleak and always ready to explode. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 30, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released May 29, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 22, 2020 | Republic Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 26, 2021 | Victor Victor Worldwide - Republic Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released June 12, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released December 13, 2019 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 3, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

The success of a posthumous album often rides on how much it feels like a posthumous album. Heightened by the grey ethics around a post-mortem release, the results of these projects are polarizing to say the least, ranging from the legacy-affirming Circles to the parodic insult of "Jah on Drums." Regrettably, Pop Smoke's Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon (SFTSAFTM) lands firmly in the latter category: the elephant of the rapper's death is not just in the room, but strutting back and forth in front of the camera, dollar bills flying from its trunk. On first listen, the gap between Smoke's catalog and the radio-ready SFTSAFTM is vast. Gone are all traces of the rapper's place atop the Brooklyn drill movement, booming drill beats replaced by glitzy trap flair and empty basses. 808Melo, the force-behind-the-boards for Smoke's entire career, is entirely side-lined, appearing on just four of the album's 18 original tracks. SFTSAFTM's features tell the same story. Instead of contemporaries like Fivio Foreign and Rah Swish, we're given a who's-who of radio rap, with artists like Tyga and Karol G creeping their way onto the track list. Often, Smoke isn't even given the dignity of a first verse, with featured artists muscling their way in ahead of the late rapper on tracks like "The Woo" and "Diana." High-quality anthems with Smoke's collaborators -- Trap Manny's excellent "50K," Rah Swish's explosive "Double It" -- are notably absent. Yet the rapper's sheer charisma still manages to cut through: "44 Bulldog," "Tunnel Vision," and "Make It Rain" are excellent drill cuts, while "Gangstas" provides a refreshing change of pace for the Brooklyn star. While far from a new joint, it's immensely satisfying to finally hear "Many Men" (here titled "Got It on Me") in HQ, too. Other highlights arrive from the unreleased Huncho Woo mixtape ("Aim for the Moon," "Snitching"), but even these have been tinkered with, with Tyga squeezing his way ahead of the Quavo/Pop duo on "West Coast Shit." While the album holds merit purely on the basis that it gives us more of Smoke's unreleased catalog, the industry tampering is often too much to bear. Though the first two volumes of Meet the Woo lacked the bombast of Smoke's iconic singles, they demonstrated candor in their representation of the drill heavyweight; SFTSAFTM, by contrast, tarnishes the rapper's visionary style with predatory glitz as everyone jumps for a piece of the pie. © David Crone /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 16, 2019 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 22, 2020 | Republic Records