Update 2/21/20 at 3:45pm EST: The Los Angeles County Coroner released an official manner as “homicide” and cause of death “gunshot wound of torso” in the murder of Pop Smoke.
Pop Smoke, a 20-year-old rapper born Bashar Barakah Jackson, was reportedly shot and killed Wednesday (Feb. 19) morning, according to TMZ. Pop, according to TMZ’s report, was at a Hollywood Hills home around 4:30 AM when two men broke in. The two alleged robbers were wearing reportedly hoodies and masks, and TMZ says it was told that the two men “fired multiple shots, striking and critically wounding Pop Smoke.” The victim was rushed by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood, where he was pronounced dead. However, the LAPD has not confirmed the identity of the person killed, so it’s yet not known that Pop was the one murdered.
“It is not confirmed that it was a rapper,” the LAPD told HollywoodLife. “A homicide occurred at the 2000 block of Hercules drive. An unknown number of suspects in masks entered the residence and shot the victim. The victim was transported to a local hospital by LAFD and was pronounced dead. It’s unknown if it’s gang-related. Operation West Bureau homicide detectives were notified and should be investigating. there’s a press conference at Hollywood station at 7:30 [PT]. We cannot confirm the name. No [suspects in custody.]”
The home where the shooting took place reportedly belongs to Teddi Mellencamp, according to Heavy.com, who claims that The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star owns the home along with husband, Edwin Arroyave. This, however, has yet to be independently confirmed. As the authorities continue their search for answers, here’s what you need to know about the rapper.
1. Pop Smoke was from Brooklyn. Bashar Barakah Jackson was born in Brooklyn on July 20, 1999, to a Jamaican mother and a Panamanian father. He grew up in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie. “You going to see a lot of flossing — a lot of young kids, they look rich,” he told The New York Times while visiting his neighborhood in 2019, months after he released his debut mixtape, Meet The Woo. “They got cars, designer bags, designer belts, designer sneakers. They get a lot of money over there.”
2. His name comes from a pair of childhood nicknames. “My name was originally ‘Papa,’ ” he told Genius. My grandma was Panamanian, so she called me ‘papa.’ But my name on the street was ‘Smoke Oh Guap,’ that was my IG. So, the homeboys didn’t want to call me ‘Papa,’ so they mixed the ‘Pop’ with the ‘Smoke,’ and they came as one.”
3. He experienced some ‘viral’ fame early on that changed his outlook on life. “I’m a big dog, you could tell. Disrespect is not tolerated,” the told the New York Times, who reported that at age 13, he took a slap while on a Brooklyn sleep. The incident was filmed and bounced around social media. Instead of being embarrassed, Pop used it as a life lesson. “I’m glad it happened as a kid. I realized it’s time to boss up — life ain’t sweet.”
4. He got into music late. Though he blew up in the summer of 2019, Pop didn’t start making music until 2018. He was hanging around other recording artists, and, at the time, he was remixing popular songs for the NYC drill/trap scene. Ultimately, he put down some bars, put out the Meet The Woo mixtape, and that was that.
Known for an “alpha dog” attitude but a charismatic delivery, Pop Smoke made, as the NYT described it, “bad-moods-beget-bad-decisions-beget-bad-consequences music.” He said he wanted to make music for kids who, like him, “got to carry their guns to school because it ain’t safe, but they still got to make sure they get they diploma ’cause they mom could be happy. I do it for them.” Pop said that he was kicked out of the eighth grade for bringing a gun to school. The New York Times also reported that at the time, he had to wear an ankle bracelet as part of a diversion program connected to a weapon charge, which had since been dismissed. “I was literally wilding for respect.”
5. Pop Smoke just released a brand new mixtape. Pop Smoke released Meet The Woo in 2019, and its lead single, “Welcome To The Party,” blew up. It was later remixed and featured Nicki Minaj and Skepta. His other tracks – “Flexin,” “MPR,” and “Dior” – continued to build a buzz for Pop Smoke. He just dropped Meet The Woo 2 on Feb. 7. Pitchfork says it “provides more gritty drill music you can clench your jaw to. It all sort of sounds like ‘Party,’ but it gets over on sheer maximalism like its predecessor did, with just enough deft touches to keep things exciting.”
Pop smoke was also reportedly working on his debut studio album. He was also going to go out on his first tour and perform at his first festival, the New York premiere of Rolling Loud.
Our thoughts are with Pop Smoke’s family, friends, and fans during this time.