Why Pop Smoke Will Be Missed By The Sports World
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Rising star Pop Smoke was shot and killed at a home in Hollywood Hills on early Wednesday morning. The 20-year-old rapper, born Bashar Barakah Jackson, had just released his second mixtape, "Meet the Woo 2," which landed him in the Top 10 of Billboard's 200 albums chart.
Pop Smoke made waves throughout the country utilizing his raw Brooklyn upbringing and his booming voice to create the soundtrack for kids coming up with the odds stacked against them. The effect was so powerful the entire nation was starting to take notice. He got co-signs from 50 Cent, Travis Scott, Quavo and other heavyweights that promised he had so much more ahead.
The sports world will miss Pop Smoke because he will have never fully realized his full potential as a motivational figure and pop culture icon. His music was perfect for game-day prep or after-victory celebration. The Miami Hurricanes men's basketball team exemplified this Wednesday evening when they played Pop Smoke's smash hit "Dior" in the locker room to celebrate a thrilling triple overtime victory.
Pop Smoke was also key in spreading the movement of the UK drill scene, weaving his growling vocals over menacing drums from London producer 808Melo. His single "Welcome to the Party" got so much buzz it was remixed by grime royalty Skepta. As the United Kingdom continues to grow its influence over the international music industry, young stars like Pop Smoke are essential in helping bridge the water.
The sports world is also getting smaller as sports like soccer and F1 racing are gaining more popularity in the United States. The Los Angeles Galaxy signing Mexican superstar Chicharito and David Beckham inaugurating Inter Miami FC are evidence that futbol is gaining more stakeholders in America. Talks of hosting an F1 race in Miami and the influence of driver Lewis Hamilton as a pop culture icon are proof that the once-elite European sport is becoming more relevant across the pond. Figures like Pop Smoke would have been hugely important in continuing the blend of cultures.
Pop Smoke would have been an excellent mouthpiece for Brooklyn, who hasn't had a mainstream hip-hop representative in quite some time. Obviously, Jay-Z is the BK King and has put on for his community, rechristening the New Jersey Nets to the Brooklyn Nets in 2012. Of course, we have The Notorious B.I.G and then Fabolous, Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli), Casanova, the list of legends goes on. Joey Bada$$ has been a fresh face for the borough, but his more cerebral raps and backpacker image haven't allowed him to crossover into mainstream superstardom. Young M.A captured national attention with her single "OOOUUU," but has also remained under the radar of mainstream media. Bobby Shmurda was blossoming before he was sent to prison in 2016 on gun charges related to gang-affiliated shootings. Other boroughs like Harlem have solid representation in the new school with the likes of A$AP Mob and Dave East. But Brooklyn has yet to fully realize a new hip-hop icon.
Pop Smoke had the potential to be that icon. His signature two braids framing designer shades gave him the image of the cool kid everybody wanted to be. He was a hero at local basketball courts and it was only natural that he would soon be courtside in the big leagues.
His road to the top wasn't without hiccups. He was one of a few local acts who were taken off the New York Rolling Loud bill due to public safety concerns. He was listed to perform at Yams Day earlier this year, but didn't appear due to an arrest with reports that he stole a Rolls Royce Wraith.
But Pop Smoke was still present at Yams Day as "Dior" boomed through the speakers at Barclays Center. It was chilling.
Although we will no longer have Pop Smoke's physical presence in the sports world, his music will live on, motivating many to victory.