Sunday, March 7, 2021


Why Was Pop Smoke So Popular?

February 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Even though New York rapper Pop Smoke was on his way to becoming a legend in rap before his death in February of 2020, his popularity continued to rise after afterwards and his debut studio album Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon made him a household name around the world.

This is rare for anyone, even a popular artist. What was the big deal about Pop Smoke and why was he so beloved by New York rap fans? It’s a combination of things that comes together to make the perfect storm for the Woo rapper. To figure out why Pop raised to the unbelievable levels that he did, you have to understand what was going on music wise in New York.

The State of the New York Rap Scene

New York has historically been the main hub for hip hop. Looking back over the years until the early 2000s, what was popular in New York has dictated what was popular in hip hop as a whole. The home of the spitters and most gangster of gangsters, New York has also constantly produced the top rapper in the game at any point.

Biggie was widely considered the best rapper until his death. Afterwards, we saw one of his collaborators, Jay Z take his place at the top in New York and nationwide. The whole time that Jay was at the top, you also had the monster called 50 Cent making his rise. Even though his time on top was only a few years, there has never been a rapper as big as he was in his prime.

After 50 Cent’s decline in the late 2000s… my point exactly. There hasn’t been anyone to fill the void as the head of New York hip hop. Throughout this time, the southern music scene was huge and with no top New York rapper, the south took over hip hop.  Rap changed from a genre based around the lyrics and rhyme schemes to a genre that cared more about catchier songs, fun, and the beats, which the south had be doing much better than New York since the mid 90s.

Rapper-POPSMOKE-2021

Where Does Pop Smoke Come In?

From the late 2000s to 2018, there hasn’t been a top artist in New York. There are two things that has to happen for a top artist to be established in a city. The youth, who dictates what is popular in music and the streets, who gives an artist the credibility that they need, has to agree on one person. This rarely happen because the two sides have two different views on what is hot. When they do agree, you get a Jay Z, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, T.I., The Game, and in this case Pop Smoke.

New York has been down for so long. Of course, they had artists in that more than ten-year gap but most of these artists fell on one side of the fence or the other, but never both at the same time. In recent years, the closest to someone having both was Bobby Shmurda, but when he went to prison, that put an end to that.

In 2018, in comes Pop Smoke. He had everything that New York needed to even start reclaiming their place in hip hop. He had his own completely original style, hot songs, dance moves, street credibility, and a new style that New York could get behind. For the longest, some New York rappers sounded like they spent a few summers in Atlanta and then started making music. No matter how hot the songs were, they were not something that New York as a whole could get behind. Even in New York, rappers from other cities ruled the radio because their rappers just didn’t have the hot songs.

Pop Smoke was the one that had it all and someone that New Yorkers could get behind and show everyone that this was their guy. His come up was organic and he was a student of his craft. You saw the improvement from his first mixtape, Meet the Woo, to his second mixtape. He showed improvement in his song making ability. He made New York rap cool again, something that nobody had been able to do for over ten years.

Staff Writer; Tardell Swift

This brother is new to writing yet has many different interests such as gaming, hip hop, wrestling, and manga.

You can follow him on TwitterPhirewoodGaming and keep up with his thoughts there as well.


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