With all the injustices that have been taking place in this country for the last few months, music has taken a backseat. While seeing videos of people across the world protesting, many people were seen bumping different variations of rap music through the streets. An artist that brought unity in the streets during this time, especially in New York, was the late Pop Smoke. His tragic February death has brought people together with his music. Even though he was an artist on the rise, his legacy has left an impact on the hip-hop scene. We’ve seen his career come and go in the last year. Now is the time for his debut album. Typically when an artist drops their first studio album, the audience anticipates for what’s next. We don’t have that luxury with Pop Smoke, and in an unusual way, this makes this project that much more special. After a delay for the release date, Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon is here.
The cover art for the project was initially designed by Louis Vuitton artistic director Virgil Abloh. After the internet got hold of the image, they went ballistic on the Off-White founder. Virgil, yet again, became a meme. A petition with thousands of signatures forced Pop Smoke’s team abandoned the Abloh version all together, and went in a different direction.
The album is 19 tracks long, and includes the now platinum certified single, “Dior”, as a bonus track. The official lead single is “Make it Rain”, featuring Rowdy Rebel. The diehards have heard a few of these tracks already due to leaks, but for the most part this is a brand new listen. On the intro, “Bad Bitch From Tokyo”, it’s clear that it was an unfinished track, and it was a smart decision not to force a feature to make the song “complete”. A subject of controversy on social media when the track listing was released was that Quavo has three credited features. The Migos rapper’s first feature is track two, “Aim for the Moon”. Despite the criticisms, Quavo floats on all three instrumentals. On “For the Night”, the track features hip-hop heavy hitters, Lil Baby & DaBaby. It was a song that was destined to be a commercial success from the jump. On tracks like “Gangstas” & “Yea Yea”, Pop Smoke gives us a twist on his traditional drill sound. On “The Woo” Roddy Ricch and 50 Cent, the latter who Pop Smoke has drawn comparisons to, hop on the 808 Melo produced track. At the end of the track, Pop Smoke pays homage to 50 with his version of the hit song “Candy Shop”. DJ Mustard produced “West Coast Shit” featuring Tyga & Quavo once more. A track that was highly anticipated was “Enjoy Yourself” featuring a Spanish verse from Colombian singer Karol G. On “What You Know Bout Love” producer IamTash samples Ginuwine’s “Differences”. Diddy’s son, King Combs, has an underwhelming verse on “Diana”. “Something Special” samples Tamia’s “So Into You”. Pop Smoke pays homage to 50 Cent one more time with “Got It On Me”. It’s Pop’s version of “Many Men(Wish Death)”.
Up until the release of this album, Pop Smoke has been criticized for sounding the same on every song. His doubters said that this signature sound would eventually get old. Pop Smoke put those doubters to bed. Most of these tracks were experimental, but they worked. One of Pop’s closest friends, Mike Dee posted on Instagram to promote the album’s release. At the end of the caption he stated “ALBUM OUT NOW THIS WHOLE TAPE HAS TO GO PLATINUM BY HIS BIRTHDAY JULY 20 AND THE DELUXE WILL DROP”. The New York native was just finding more sounds for his musical arsenal, and unfortunately we won’t get a chance to see the future evolution of Pop Smoke. This is a bittersweet moment in hip-hop, but the world needed to hear this. Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon is out now on all streaming platforms.