Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke, who broke out last year as one of the leaders of the Brooklyn drill scene, was killed in what is being described as a home invasion at his house in the Hollywood Hills. He was 20 years old.
TMZ first reported that Pop Smoke, born Bashar Barakah Jackson, was at the home in the Hollywood Hills when two men wearing hoodies and masks broke into the house around 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. (Pop Smoke was renting the house from Edwin Arroyave, the husband of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Teddi Mellencamp.) He was reportedly shot multiple times, then taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood, where he was pronounced dead.
Law enforcement sources also tell the TMZ there was "a party or gathering at the house prior to the shooting. It's unclear what motive the shooters had in showing up at the house."
Pop Smoke grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn; he was a promising high school basketball player, but his career ended when he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. He later started dealing drugs, and spent two years on house arrest on a gun charge. His music career only got started in late 2018 when he released his first song “MPR.” He was at the forefront of the emerging Brooklyn drill scene, a more melodic take on Chicago drill. As Stereogum wrote, "Working mostly with the London producer 808Melo, Pop Smoke developed a sound that was gruff and concussive but still catchy and occasionally melodic."
He released his debut mixtape Meet The Woo in 2019, and his single “Welcome To The Party” blew up last summer, with Nicki Minaj, French Montana, and Skepta rapping on remixes of it. He also appeared on “Gatti,” a track from Travis Scott's Jackboys compilation. He released a second mixtape, Meet The Woo 2, earlier this month. As Pitchfork wrote in a review of it last week, "Pop’s detractors on social media often point out how his songs sound too sparse or similar. But if they were to step outside in NYC, chances are they’d encounter a car nearly rattling its rims off with his music."
Pop Smoke had also earned the ire of the NYPD: he was removed from 2019’s Rolling Loud Festival after the NYPD wrote a letter to festival organizers requesting he and a few other rappers were taken off due to “public safety concerns” stemming from the artists’ alleged affiliations with “recent acts of violence citywide.”