Pop Smoke, the rising New York rapper whose gruff-voiced style made fans of stars like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, was shot and killed in Los Angeles on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed the rapper’s death to Rolling Stone.
The Los Angeles police responded to an emergency call at 4:20 a.m. this morning after masked gunmen broke into a house where the rapper was staying, the rep confirmed. Pop Smoke was transferred to a local hospital and pronounced dead when he arrived. He was 20. The rapper’s death came just days after his new mixtape, Meet the Woo 2, debuted in the Top Ten of the Rolling Stone albums chart.
Pop Smoke was born Bashar Barakah Jackson in Brooklyn, New York in 1999. His transformation from a relatively unknown artist to next-up took place in the span of just a few months. Last April, he released a song titled “Welcome to the Party” that was sludgy and triumphant, hypnotic yet menacing. The production bore similarities to previous New York hits like Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot Ni**a,” but Jackson had an inimitable voice — deep, gravelly, beat-swallowing.
Other rappers quickly took notice of “Welcome to the Party,” with Cardi B posting a video of herself rapping along and Rico Nasty remixing the track. Last July, Jackson released his debut mixtape, Meet the Woo. He had already signed a deal with Steven Victor, the music executive known for managing Pusha T and working at Kanye West’s label G.O.O.D. Music; Republic Records would eventually release Meet the Woo.
Jackson continued to build on the success of “Welcome to the Party,” which later earned an official remix from his labelmate Nicki Minaj. He released a slew of singles through 2019 and 2020, culminating in the Meet the Woo 2 earlier this month. The mixtape arrived at Number Eight on the latest Rolling Stone albums chart, amassing 37 million streams.