Pop Smoke was a generational talent. As he would prove with more releases, he was the full package. His ear for production and being on the bleeding edge of the NY Drill scene made him stick out from the crowd in a major way. While his sound would be become more and more refined with later releases and grow outside of the Drill style on his posthumous album, Meet the Woo Vol. 1 is him in his rawest form.
The short nine song album is start to the point, with a perfect intro with the song “Meet the Woo.” From the very beginning you understand exactly what Pop was all about and his vision. Pop explicitly showcases how he is from the streets and untouchable, and his vocal presence helps cements that. His voice is smoky, but not in an obnoxious way. Its smooth, and pairs perfectly with the production.
On a production end, it’s a match made in heaven. Handled majority by 808 Melo, it feels as if they were locked in the studio together to capture a moment. That couldn’t be further from the truth though, as 808 Melo was based in the UK. Coming from this background, the two scenes blend together effortless.
Songs like “Welcome to the Party” have this bassline that feels like it come out of a Skream song, meanwhile Pop’s words perfectly capture the feeling of NY. A crazy drugged fueled night of club life yet directly contrasted with bars about hardcore street life make you feel right there. Other rappers can capture the feeling of a lit night like Fivio, others can capture the harshness of street life like Sheff G. Pop Smoke on the other hand brings both worlds together beautifully.
Every song on here is absurdly hard. “Hawk Em” is packed with quotables, namedropping multiple fashion name brands and describing multiple ways to take down his opps. “Better Have Your Gun” plays with the flow a bit, yet never steering away from the hardcore lyrics. No song overstays its welcome, always ending at the satisfying length.
His song “PTSD” moves the furthest anyway from Drill but still feels NY in every way. He incorporates this flow that feels similar to what 50 Cent might do. It may not be a Drill track, but it has that NY bounce within the drums complete with hi hats that give it that modern flair. While the majority of the album is packed with party anthems and threats to the opps, this track takes a more reflective tone. He reflects on the stress and trauma that can come with a lifestyle such as this, showing that it isn’t for the faint of heart.
Some may find the sound of to be tiring, as the entire album never strays too far away from the NY Drill sound. While this is a fair criticism, considering his limited discography and its massive influence years later, this album stays a special release. Later releases would see more standard NY sounds and singing, sounds that are much more palpable to a mainstream audience. This album has no thoughts of that though, there’s no need for crowd pleasers. This is the most genuine product of its own environment, perfectly encapsulating and setting the tone for the rest of hip hop for years to come.