“He was all I listened to”: Pop Smoke’s Life Taken Too Soon

At the start of 2020, the music industry lost another young star with a bright future. 

On Wednesday, February 19, Bashar Barakah Jackson, more popularly known as Pop Smoke, was pronounced dead on the way to a hospital near his home in Beverly Hills. It was reported that his death was due to a gunshot wound to his torso. 

Pop Smoke was a rising star in the hip-hop industry and was only twenty years old. There have been several theories as to what happened at Pop Smoke’s house to lead to the shooting, but evidence points to a home invasion.

His death has left many in disbelief. He had a unique voice and his uplifting, catchy music brought a sensation of happiness and excitement to his listeners.

The death of Pop Smoke has even affected students at American International College. 

First-year student Emma Otero said, “Honestly, I am hurt. He was different from [other artists]. Besides his music being so energetic and getting me pumped for the gym, he was an inspiration to the kids of his community.”

His differences from his peers in the music industry seemed to be what people loved about Smoke.

Rayna Ford, a first-year biology major, was also deeply affected by the loss. “He was all I listened to, day in and day out. He was different and brought a new flow, which is what the world needed.”

According to FNR Tigg of Complex, while it seems like robbing the home was an afterthought, there is no indication that a rival gang from the East Coast traveled to Los Angeles to target Smoke. It is unclear if the rapper or his gang had any rivals in the Los Angeles area. 

Tigg explains that an important piece of evidence in the case of Pop Smoke’s murder is the fact that “the day before his death, a gift bag Smoke received was posted to social media revealing his address. Police are leaning towards this being the cause of the crime which adds to the potential number of suspects.” 

A transfer student from a college in Connecticut echoed the shock of her classmates at AIC. “I really can’t believe he was gone in a matter of minutes as I was listening to him,” she said. “It is scary and sad because he just came out, and his music brought the dancing out of me. Mind you, he was so young… too young.”

“I just cannot believe he was our age,” said Otero. “And he literally was just getting started.”

The feeling that this was only the beginning for the artist out of Brooklyn, New York was shared by Ford. “I am more devastated at the fact that he was our age,” Ford said. “He barely enjoyed his career.”

It seems one of the reasons Smoke’s death has affected his fans so much is that they are so close in age. 

After his death, Pop Smoke’s music began trending. According to Kevin Rutherford of Billboard, Pop Smoke’s songs collected millions of on-demand streams in the U.S. Many were playing his music across social media in order to honor the artist’s short career. 

Rutherford explains these streams should translate into movement on the Billboard charts for Pop Smoke’s catalog, possibly giving him his first top 10. 

Pop Smoke saw so much success in such a little time. It’s a shame that his career was cut so short.

Pop Smoke’s YouTube Playlist, YouTube, 2020, Robert Courchesne

Pop Smoke on Billboard, Billboard, 2020, Robert Courchesne