Bashar Barakah Jackson (July 20, 1999 – February 19, 2020) known as Pop Smoke, was an American rapper and songwriter.
Pop Smoke was born on July 20, 1999, in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jamaican mother and a Panamanian father. He spent his childhood in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn.
He started dealing drugs, at a young age, and spent two years on house after being arrested on weapons charges.
He began his music career in 2018 while hanging around other recording artists during their studio sessions. He started remixing popular songs within the New York City drill music scene, before embarking on creating his own original music. In a Genius (an American digital media company) interview, he stated that his artist name of Pop Smoke is a combination of Papa (a nickname given to him by his Panamanian grandmother) and Smoke Oh Guap (a nickname given to him by childhood friends). (Guap is slang for a lot of money—cash money).
Pop Smoke was signed to Victor Victor Worldwide and Republic Records, and in April 2019, he released his breakout single, “Welcome to the Party”, the lead single of his debut mixtape, Meet the Woo, also released in 2019. The song was later remixed, in August 2019, featuring Nicki Minaj and Skepta. The song was notable for its usage of UK drill production, which was later commonly seen throughout his music, and due to many collaborations with British drill producer 808Melo.
Other well-known songs of his include: “Mpr”, “Flexin” and “Dior”.
Following the rise to popularity of “Welcome to the Party”, he collaborated with other popular artists. In October 2019, he featured American rapper Lil Tjay on his single “War”. In December 2019, he featured American rapper Calboy on his single “100k on a Coupe” and also collaborated with American rapper Travis Scott a few weeks later on the song “Gatti”, from Scott and his Cactus Jack members’ compilation album, JackBoys (2019). “Gatti” became his first Billboard Hot 100 charting song, peaking at 69, a week after the release of the album JackBoys.
On January 17, 2020, Bashar Barakah Jackson (Pop Smoke) was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on a charge of transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines. The vehicle was a Rolls-Royce Wraith, whose owner had reported it stolen after Pop Smoke had reportedly borrowed it in California for a music video shoot on the condition it would be returned the next day. The car was recovered by authorities at Jackson’s mother’s house in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn, and sported Alabama license plates and tinted windows. Jackson (Pop Smoke) pleaded not guilty and was released on $250,000 bail on the same day.
In February 2020, Pop Smoke released his second mixtape Meet the Woo 2 with features from Quavo, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Fivio Foreign and Lil Tjay. The week after its initial release, a deluxe edition was released featuring three new songs, including “Wolves” with Nav; “Dior (Remix)” with Gunna; and “Like Me” with PnB Rock.
Pop Smoke (Bashar Barakah Jackson) died, aged 20, on February 19, 2020, after being shot during a home invasion in Hollywood Hills, California.
According to police, a four people entered the house before 5:00 AM on February 19, 2019, with one of them masked and carrying a handgun. Police received news of the shooting from someone calling from the East Coast, and went to the house, finding Jackson with gunshot wounds. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
On February 21, 2020, The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner revealed that the cause of Jackson’s death was a gunshot wound to the chest. Four suspects fled the house and have not been located yet.
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