Pop Smoke‘s love and admiration for 50 Cent began long before his career afforded him the opportunity to call him a friend, and will live on well past his death as part of his legacy.
On Friday (July 3), the late rapper’s estate released his highly-anticipated debut studio album, Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon. The 19-track effort features appearances from Quavo, Lil Baby, DaBaby, Swae Lee, Future, Roddy Ricch, Tyga, Karol G and fellow New Yorkers Lil Tjay, Rowdy Rebel and 50 himself. The G-Unit leader also took on the task of executing producing Pop’s project, which would have been a dream come true if he was still here.
“I like 50,” the 20-year-old said in an August 2019 interview with DJ Hed and Bootleg Kev on Real 92.3. “I ain’t gon’ lie – 50? I grew up on 50. Niggas be saying we cousins and shit.”
In the same interview, he named the Queens rapper as both an influence and as someone he wished to work with, while showing love to a lot of other names out of the concrete jungle.
He was aggressive and embodied the true essence of a New York MC, but Pop was never above giving people their flowers. He was a student of the game on every level, and was sure to express his love and admiration for not only those who paved the way but those finding their path just like him. He spread love throughout New York and befriended peers like Fivio Foreign and Casanova, who could have just as easily been dubbed as competition to the newcomer.
On the Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon cut “Make It Rain,” Pop shows love to crew members like fellow rapper Dread Woo and the incarcerated Rowdy Rebel, who appears on the song from prison.
“Tell Drell keep drummin’, tell Dread keep dumpin,’” Pop raps on the song’s chorus, while also shouting Dread out in the song’s opening line.
At the time of his murder during a home invasion in February, Pop’s musical future outlook looked bleak. Weeks after his passing, however, 50 swooped in to take on the role of EP.
“i’m on the move listening to Pop smoke,” 50 wrote on Instagram on March 1. “i decided i’m gonna executive produce and finish his album for him.#abcforlife #starzgettheapp #lecheminduroi #bransoncognac.”
He immediately went to task recruiting artists to appear on the album, and has remain heavily involved in matter’s regarding the late rapper since. When fans took issue with the Virgil Abloh-designed cover art, 50 began collecting dozens of new potential covers and sharing them on his social platforms for fans to vote. Ultimately, a plain black background with a metal rose was chosen – much to the dismay of many.
Though their time together was brief, 50’s passion toward Pop’s project speaks to the impact the burgeoning star had on those around him.
Stream Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon below.