Pop Smoke – “Faith” review

This is the sophomore album from New York rapper, singer & songwriter Pop Smoke. Emerging in the summer of 2019 off his debut EP Meet the Woo, things were looking like the Brooklyn drill pioneer was just about to take off until he was tragically murdered in a home invasion less than 2 weeks after Meet the Woo 2 dropped last February. Pop’s full-length debut Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon was later completed by the hands of his idol 50 Cent & just celebrated it’s 1-year anniversary at the beginning of the month. As for the actual music on that album: I personally was indifferent towards it because as much as I adore 50’s output both solo & with G-Unit from 2002-2006, he made it sound a lot more commercial than it really needed to be. So to see he had no involvement with Faith gave me hope that I’d like it more than Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon.

After the “Good News” intro, the first song “More Time” is an endearing piano ballad produced by 808Melo about how that’s all he needs whereas “Tell the Vision” with Pusha T finds the duo boasting their success on top of a guitar & some hi-hats. I also dig how Push acknowledges Call Me If You Get Lost as the 2021 AOTY so far as well as teasing his upcoming album & calling someone who I refuse to acknowledge on my platform a clown without sounding like beating a dead horse. He & Rick Ross get murderous on the soulful “Manslaughter” leading into the acoustic materialism anthem “‘Bout a Million” with 21 Savage & 42 Dugg.

Meanwhile on “Brush ‘Em”, we have Rah Swish tagging along over a chilling sample to spit that gangsta shit just before the triumphant “Top Shotta” featuring Pusha T & TRAVI along with The Neptunes behind the boards. Bizzar Banks comes into the picture to talk about being sleazes on the cinematically produced “30” while the spacious “Beat the Speaker” grimly talks about Pop being the man. “Coupe” has a nocturnal instrumental whilst returning to the gangsta rap themes just before he & Takeoff talk about having a lot of guns for the cavernous “What’s Crackin’?”. The choir vocals on the Lil Tjay/Swae Lee assisted “Genius” are chilling as the trio are proclaiming themselves as such while he & Future talking about 100 bitches that’s ready to fuck.

After the pointless “Woo Baby” interlude, the actual “Woo Baby” song itself is an attempt at a radio hit saying he & Chris Brown like their yummy yellow whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean while the moody Dua Lipa duet “Demeanor” finds the 2 talking about his shawty. “Spoiled” even though it’s 2 minutes long is what “Woo Baby” should’ve been while the song “8-Ball” with KiD CuDi serves as a guitar ballad produced by Swizz Beatz about robbin’ ‘cause they never had nothing. The penultimate track “Back Door” with Kodak Black & Quavo sees the trio lavishly looking back on what their mothers had told them growing up & the closer “Merci Beaucoup” beautiful tells listeners that he ain’t got shit to prove to nobody.

Now I like this a bit more than the previous Pop Smoke album, but just by a very small margin. Some of the features either hit or miss & I really appreciate how it doesn’t try as hard to appeal to a nonexistent radio market like Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon did.

Score: 3/5

Pop Smoke – “Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon” review

Pop Smoke was a 20 year old rapper from Brooklyn, New York who released his debut mixtape Meet the Woo last summer. He put out a sequel this past February but unfortunately, he was murdered 2 weeks after said-sequel came out. But with the help of 50 Cent, they’re continuing Pop’s legacy with his full-length debut.

The album kicks off with “Bad Bitch from Tokyo”, where Pop Smoke brags for 50 seconds over a woozy beat. The next song “Aim for the Moon” with Quavo sees the 2 talking about their high statuses over an instrumental that sounds like it could’ve been on Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD while the track “For the Night” with Lil Baby & DaBaby finds the trio getting raunchy over a beat kin to Young Thug’s Beautiful Thugger Girls. The song “44 Bulldog” gets confrontational over a mournful beat while the track “Gangstas” talks about how legit he was over a rubbery piano instrumental.

The song “Yea Yea” is a trite, buttery sex anthem while the track “Creature” with Swae Lee sees the 2 describing their rich lifestyles over a spacious beat while the track “Snitching” with Future & Quavo is pretty much them talking about not breaking street code over a shimmery, skeletal instrumental. The song “Make It Rain” with Rowdy Rebel sees the 2 talking about fakes over an aggressive instrumental while “The Woo” with 50 Cent & Roddy Ricch sees the 3 talking about bitches over another Beautiful Thugger Girls inspired beat.

The song “West Coast Shit” with Tyga & Quavo lives up to its name down to Mustard’s production while the track “Enjoy Yourself” with Karol G is a weird, Latin-flavored piece about relaxation. The song “Mood Swings” with Lil Tjay is a horrific auto-crooner while the track “Something Special” is literally a 2 minute freestyle over Tamia’s “Into You”.

We have more tiresome lovey dovey shit on the songs “What You Know ‘Bout Love?” & the King Combs featured “Diana”, but then “Got It on Me” is pretty much a modern take on the classic 50 Cent joint “Many Men (Wish Death)” & it’s actually pretty cool. The final song “Tunnel Vision” talks about how nice he is over a mesmerizing instrumental & then we get “Dior” off Meet the Woo as a bonus track, which is easily one of the best songs he ever made.

I’m usually 50/50 on posthumous releases because they can either turn out amazing like Circles or end up horrendously like Pac’s Life. However, this kinda falls in between for me. The cuts that’re done more in Pop Smoke’s signature UK Drill style are fine, but almost all the poppy sex songs except for “Something Special” are just fucking terrible. If we’re getting a follow-up, here’s to it being better.

Score: 2.5/5