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The Dior god does it again.
As Pop Smoke’s classics become the sound of protest in New York City, a planned release of new ones hopes to build on an abridged legacy. In February of this year, the Brooklyn rapper was killed during a home invasion in the middle of a promising rise; he was only 20 years old.
A posthumous album, which was recently postponed out of respect for the protests, expands upon the inroads he’d made—not just as the poster boy of a subgenre but as a new figurehead in the city. The first song from the forthcoming project, “Make It Rain,” links the late rapper with jailed GS9 rapper Rowdy Rebel. Posthumous releases often bring diminishing returns, but here Pop Smoke retains the intensity that made him great.
What really separated Pop Smoke from other local drill rappers is that thundering voice; its thick husk still feels coarse, severe, and unavoidable. The pounding Yamaica production quakes beneath him, as all the most menacing drill beats do, but his rhymes cut through commotion. He raps like he’s unstoppable, and he sounds like it too. “Look, ain’t no apology/These n*s doubted me/I keep a pole tucked/Run up, catch a cold cut/Put his head on his shoulder,” he growls. “Dior” is fit for protest because it is animated by exultation even under the threat of violence, and “Make It Rain” is similarly exhilarating. Pop Smoke’s best songs are supercharged, and the defiant, uncaged Rowdy verse only furthers this sensation. In the throes of his unrelenting rabble-rouser raps, Pop Smoke’s power seems eternal.