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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 15, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 15, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 15, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 15, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 30, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 30, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 30, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 30, 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 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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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 July 3, 2020 | 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 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 June 12, 2020 | Victor Victor Worldwide

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

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released June 12, 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 May 29, 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