Pop Smoke – Shoot for The Stars, Aim for The Moon (Woo Wednesday Review)

Pop Smoke’s death was an incredible tragedy. Just entering the beginning of his life as a young man & newly minted star, he was gunned down. In the time prior to his death, he was crafting a new album. No one knew what the final product would sound like, especially since most was being curated by inspiration 50 Cent. What we got may not have been a NY Drill classic, but a showcase of Pop Smoke’s talents and abilities to adapt to the mainstream.

We start with a drill track however to ease the previous audience in, a track that could have easily been the best if it was a full song. Unfortunately its cut short before it could ramp up into a full-on banger. It leads into the next track that is another collaboration with Quavo, following up their previous work together on Meet The Woo Vol. 2. It is certainly a solid track, but it does feel a little limp considering where the intro track felt like it was going to go to.

Once that track is over, we are introduced to the new Pop Smoke. “For The Night” feels like it was primed for the radio, being backed by the at the time superstars Lil Baby & DaBaby. The track showcases Pop Smoke’s ear for melodies, performing these slurry autotuned vocals. This is the first one on the album, and possibly his career, that truly turns its back on the drill sound. Its far from a bad song, but jarring if you were expecting his previous sound.

His track “44 Bulldog” is a bit lowkey, it is a drill track yet it feels muted. Pop delivers his verses in a fast paced flow calling back to previous songs. Especially compared to a track like “Creature,” which features a completely unnecessary Swae Lee feature. Another drill track appears in “Make It Rain,” having a Rowdy Rebel jail verse at the end. Its easily one of the better tracks here, feeling like it was fully realized rather than reusing old lyrics.

Quavo appears all over this album. He is on the first proper track, but he comes in on another two tracks. “Snitching” is a track with Future, which features one of Quavo’s better hooks in general. Pop Smoke’s autotuned moans add a lot of depth to the already lush instrumental, and when he shows up its with a bang. The other track “West Coast Shit,” which feels like a fairly standard by-the-numbers hit showing love for the West Coast.

This album also shows a true foray into his singing abilities. “Mood Swings” is a song that is completely sung, a first for him. He continues this on “Something Special” where he sings on the hook over this late 90s or early 00s feeling instrumental. The love ballads continue on “What You Know Bout Love.” While his usual music is about being with multiple women, these tracks show a more tender side of his.

50 Cent had a clear influence on some of these tracks, and even features a performance by him on “The Woo.” Their performances together work together here flawlessly, and Roddy Ricch’s feature brings enough uniqueness to the table. Pop’s verse interpolates 50’s song “Candy Shop.” This is something he continues to do on “Got It On Me,” which plays off of 50’s song “Many Men.” This track is disheartening considering Pop’s death, but the track itself is easily the best here.

The idea of this album was clear, showcase any & all of Pop Smoke’s talents. While it would have been better for fans to have more of the iconic drill sound, he was multitalented artist that needed to shine. This brought both new fans and old something to the table, and made this release easily his biggest even if it wasn’t his best. Its a bittersweet release due to this, but still a worthy listen.

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