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Pop Smoke has a 2021 top hip-hop album over a year after his death

So far, the biggest hip-hop album of the year wasn’t released in 2021, but had already popped out of the car window a year ago.

“Shoot for the Stars Aim the Moon” Posthumous debut album According to MRC Data, New York rapper Pop Smoke was 2021’s most popular hip-hop album, formerly known as Nielsen Music, with sales in the US of 948,000 this year. Released on July 3, 2020, “Shoot for the Stars” is among all the music. Fourth consumed albumAfter recording by Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, and Morgan Wallen, MRC data says.

“This is a cultural phenomenon,” said Ebro Darden, global editor of hip-hop and R & B at Apple Music. One of the album’s notable songs is the previously released track “Dior,” which became a protest national anthem during a national demonstration of racial injustice last summer. Meanwhile, the album has been popular for streaming over the past year, with Pop Smoke near the top of the monthly music charts.

To take advantage of that momentum, pop smoke label Victor Victor Worldwide will release its second posthumous album, Face, on Friday. Starring Kanye West and pop star Dua Lipa, this album is tailored to the 22nd birthday of rap star on July 20th.

Posthumous album from the artist Late rappers such as Juice WRLD and Mac Miller are making waves in pop culture. “Shoot for the Stars” is one of the most commercially successful in recent memory, making Pop Smoke one of the most important hip-hop figures of the last few decades. I will. It’s also a big moment for New York rap, which has been overshadowed by rival hip-hop scenes for years, especially in Atlanta.

Cover art for Pop Smoke’s second album “Face” after his death.


Photo:

Victor Victor Worldwide / Republic Records

Pop Smoke (real name Bashar Jackson) is a Brooklyn-based hip-hop rookie who shortened his life at the age of 20 in February 2020. As the protagonist of “Brooklyn Drill,” dark and moody new rap sub-genre codes, intimidating lyrics, rumbling bass, and pop smoke provided an alternative to the pop-like sounds of today’s mainstream rap.

Industry executives say that the success of “Shoot for the Stars” depends on many factors, including the musicality, charisma, and perceived credibility of Pop Smoke. He rapped in a distinctive style and rang a low, moody baritone over a melodic, danceable and ominous instrumental.

Next is the packed guest list for the album. This includes momentary rappers (DaBaby, Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch), hip-hop politicians (50 Cent, Future, Young Thug), and giants of neighboring genres (DaBaby, Lil Baby, Young Thug). I will.Burna Boy, Karol G).

Some music critics say that 50 Cent’s executive-produced album sounds too commercial and is full of featured guests. But pop smoke was aimed at mainstream acceptance, people who know him say.

“Musically, in the early demos he came up with, he had that pop sensibility,” says Shivam Pandia, vice president of operations at Victor Victor Worldwide. “He always wanted to appeal to a wide audience.” The deluxe version of “Shoot for the Stars” is 34 tracks, almost an hour and 45 minutes long, popping through a huge number of songs. Helped to increase the number of smokes. Common tactics in the music industry..

Growing up in Brooklyn’s Canarsie district, Pop Smoke began recording in late 2018. He absorbed the sounds of Brooklyn, London and Chicago drill artists and the sounds of veterans like 50 Cent, often regarded as the last New York rapper to define the era. A friend shared his music. It has spread to Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube, and even Triller, an app similar to TikTok.

Steven Victor, Head of Victor Victor Worldwide, signed Pop Smoke in March 2019. (Victor Victor Worldwide distributes pop smoke music through a contract with Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group.) By that summer, pop smoke had become a local hero. “Welcome to the party” with a local smash.

“People in the city knew him and were looking for him to be the next star,” says Pandia.

Pop Smoke performed at a New York City listening party on February 6, 2020. He was killed on February 19, 2020.


Photo:

Johnny Nunez / WireImage / Getty Images

His surge ended on February 19, 2020, when he was shot dead in a home invasion in Los Angeles. When his debut album arrived in July, it reached number one on the Billboard 200 Album-Sales Chart. Currently in 12th place.

For hip-hop fans, pop-smoke growls, an undeveloped approach, and organic fame represented a resurgence of credibility and realism, industry executives say. Tariq Cherif, co-founder of the hip-hop festival Rolling Loud, said: “Pop Smoke definitely brought it to the game. It’s a real street hustler perspective.”

The death of Pop Smoke reminded me of the death of Notorious BIG in 1997. “For the elderly,” says Brooklyn drill pioneer Chef G and Bobby Fischer, A & R executive at Label Empire, who signed Sleepy Hallow. : History repeats itself. “In both cases, hip-hop lost a major talent relatively early in its career.

According to MRC data, “Shoot for the Stars” has generated nearly 5 billion US streams since its release. Two of the top five US radio rap songs of the year, “What You Know Bout Love” and “For the Night,” are included.

When the second album is released, many fans are waiting for it. “If he leaves more music on this planet, the world should listen to it,” says Sheriff of Rolling Loud.

Write to Neil Shah neil.shah@wsj.com

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Pop Smoke has a 2021 top hip-hop album over a year after his death

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