Pop Smoke
Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon


3.0
good

Review

by Peter Meister USER (98 Reviews)
July 3rd, 2020 | 23 replies


Release Date: 07/03/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Long live the Woo.

Posthumous hip-hop albums have come far too often in the past 5 years. From emo rappers such as Lil' Peep, and XXXTentacion, to visionaries like Mac Miller, it’s an alarming trend that we are seeing more in recent years. Not since the impact of the '90s East-West Coast rap war, have we seen this kind of death tear the industry again. As for the albums themselves post-passing, it's been boom or bust. We've seen estates butcher their unreleased vault, such as to XXXTentacion, and then we've seen beautiful pieces that offer closure, like Mac Miller's estate did with Circles. The latter can be also said for the most recent big name in hip-hop, Brooklyn's own Pop Smoke, whose up-and-coming career was taken away by a home invasion gone wrong in February. Sadly, in what is his debut album, "Shoot for The Stars, Aim for The Moon", it offers a real, shining glimpse of what could've been.

The reason why these late pieces are hit or miss, is because these labels try hard to turn unfinished content, into something they assume would be the artist’s intended vision. The end result is fragmented, short 90-second pieces that bring shame to the dead. Fortunately, with Pop Smoke’s album debut, this injustice is nonexistent. Thanks to 50 Cent, Smoke’s inspiration, who took control as executive producer for this near-hour centerpiece, Fiddy’s direction gives this a versatile, organic feel. While nineteen tracks feels a bit much, this doesn't feel like a bunch of unused pieces spliced from the vault either; this feels like an actual rap album. Pop Smoke’s tough, raw raps fit perfectly within the sleek, dynamic sound spanning throughout the compilation. Look to the mellow “Enjoy Yourself”, a jam made for summer with sunlit guitar strings, pairing well with the rapper’s fun verses of free-spirit, and Columbian singer Karol G’s smooth vocals. Or the throwback with the summery “Something Special”, a cool twist on the 2003 classic “Into You” by another Brooklyn prominent in Fabolous. The versatility of this album’s sound works so well with Pop that it’s by far, the best production he’s ever had in a work of his to date. It’s the perfect summer hip-hop album.

Another no-no with posthumous content, has been feature overload. It makes the focus on who passed less evident. We’ve seen how EMPIRE handled XXXTentacion’s posthumous releases in that regard, bloating feature after feature. While you do see a good portion of that in Pop’s debut, it doesn’t derive from the main attraction. You’ve got nearly half the album solely to him, with glossy pieces like “What You Know ‘Bout Love” leading the way. Then with “West Coast Sh*t”, a shiny, piano-driven ode to the West, it balances out between Pop’s raspy raps, Tyga’s clever wordplay, and Quavo’s punchy lines. The boastful “The Woo” is another, with Roddy Ricch and 50 Cent himself pairing nicely with Smoke’s take on his deluxe lifestyle, and the nightly, guitar-driven sound. In fact, 50 Cent’s part in this is honestly one of his best in years, and a nostalgic callback to the one that we came to love from the early days of G-Unit. In truth, the features don’t take away from Pop’s talent, but only further enhance it with how well they fit in together.

The sad reality is, is that with “Shoot for The Stars, Aim for the Moon”, this is going to be the last we see of what Pop Smoke was to be for the future of hip-hop. We don’t know if we are going to get any more posthumous stuff from the former Brooklyn up-and-coming, and if we do, the confidence isn’t keen on coming close to being what this centerpiece was. While there are snoozers like the heavily generic “Dior”, and the boring “44 Bulldog”, those dull roadblocks don’t stop the ball from rolling. 50 Cent’s control to the sound is spectacular, the features contribute to Pop’s glamorous lyricism, and it’s accessible. This is an album that will appeal to hip-hop heads alike, especially a good chunk who didn’t vibe with Smoke of his earlier stuff. This centerpiece does justice and glory for the man, and it’s just really sad that he isn’t here to see the appreciation it got. It's simple, long live “the Woo”.




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user ratings (44)
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
SPRFanOf5H
July 3rd 2020


867 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Surprising hip-hop release considering posthumous content from rappers have been real inconsistent, especially when you consider how much you're hearing of rappers passing away in this past half-decade. This is a nice one, pleasantly surprised but bittersweet all the same.



Criticism, feedback, praise, artist or album thoughts always appreciated.

Digging: Logic - No Pressure

helperoni
July 3rd 2020


390 Comments


Not really my style of music but great review! I would maybe change this up a bit, its a little repetitive to mention 50 by name twice in the same sentence:

"Thanks to 50 Cent, Smoke’s inspiration, who took control as executive producer for this near-hour centerpiece, Fiddy’s direction gives this a versatile, organic feel. "

Could just be "Thanks to Smoke's inspiration 50 Cent, who took control as executive producer for this near-hour centerpiece, and gave it a versatile, organic feel." or something along those lines

JeetJeet
July 3rd 2020


8359 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This guy was headed for superstar status.

Fort23
July 3rd 2020


3073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If we took out 92% of the features and cut a couple tracks this could be a 5/5. Still better than I expected

dedex
July 3rd 2020


4129 Comments


gotta jump on this

Digging: Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation

AxeToFall93
July 3rd 2020


196 Comments


"If we took out 92% of the features and cut a couple tracks this could be a 5/5. Still better than I expected"

Nah, not really, especially his lyricism is just bland. It would be a solid record from a artist with tons of potential but what we got is a bloated album full of crap features and unneeded hooks.

SPRFanOf5H
July 3rd 2020


867 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@Axe: The features are much better than any posthumous rap album I’ve heard to date imo. Check out the XXXTentacion posthumous vault that EMPIRE has distributed since his passing, you wanna talk the classic example of bloated features? It truly has it and then some. Lil’ Peep’s posthumous content is just as bad. Most features on posthumous rap albums are definitely bad on the most part, it just didn’t feel this way with Pop Smoke’s debut. I actually enjoyed a good amount of the features.

Fort23
July 3rd 2020


3073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Disagree I think pop went off on a good ten songs give or take on here that could’ve been a 5/5 to me

JefferyBigglestein
July 3rd 2020


1439 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

This is fine, posthumous is hit or miss and this isn't perfect but it's way better than how

X was handled. I appreciate how Pop's role model, 50 cent, actually came on board to produce this project.

ian b
July 3rd 2020


919 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

man this guy was really onto something massive

Sinternet
July 3rd 2020


22762 Comments


really onto copying uk drill yeah

oltnabrick
July 3rd 2020


39748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nah pop smoke is better than most uk drill lol





the features on this suck tho

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oltnabrick
July 3rd 2020


39748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i like uk drill tho also

JeetJeet
July 4th 2020


8359 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"really onto copying uk drill yeah"

A large portion of this album isn't even uk drill

rufinthefury
July 4th 2020


3128 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

you really think Sinternet knows anything about hip hop lmao

Sinternet
July 4th 2020


22762 Comments


not gonna take a lecture of authority on hip hop from a guy who 5s linkin park

Sinternet
July 4th 2020


22762 Comments


like literally all your ratings are that of some white 16 year old who got into hip hop three years ago browsing fantano videos sit down lad

oltnabrick
July 4th 2020


39748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ok bro sorry

Jots
Emeritus
July 4th 2020


7073 Comments


nice copypasta lad

DaHound
July 6th 2020


143 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Only song I came away enjoying was The Woo, in big part because of 50 and that instrumental. Pretty weak album overall

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