After last year’s mass hysteria around his super-charged party anthem ‘Welcome To The Party’, Brooklyn’s Pop Smoke has already cemented his place in rap. And on his second mixtape, he welcomes us to the Woo again.
The 20-year-old initially cribbed the UK’s style, mixing our drill with his New York swag, and earned himself recognition from UK drill heavy-weights – including Headie One, who freestyled over his infamous first single ‘Welcome To The Party’. The message: don’t you dare forget about the man of the hour.
On his debut record, ‘Meet The Woo’, Pop Smoke showed a new side to himself on ‘PTSD’. On this very track, he abandoned his usual thuggish lyrics laced with illegalities and spoke about his mental health – a topic rap that’s become less taboo in rap. If you loved that track, you’ll love the range of sounds on ‘Meet the Woo 2’. On ‘She Got A Thing’, with background crooning audibly inspired by SoundCloud rapper Trippie Redd, Smoke manipulates his growling voice to sing soothing melodies.
No matter if you live in London or New York, every drill fan prays for a Pop Smoke and Fivio Foreign collaboration. Well, ‘Sweetheart’ is everything we wanted. Fivio’s distinctive Brooklyn accent and Smoke’s husky voice mesh beautifully over this racing drill beat. It’s truly menacing.
When you put together Fivio’s persistent high-energy and Smoke’s silent-but-deadly approach, the New Yorkers harness the essence of real king-pins. They’re like Top Boy‘s Sully and Dushane; the brazen Fivio reminds us of Sully and Pop Smoke’s laid-back nature evokes that of Dushane. And these top boys have crafted an unforgettable classic.
But the ‘Get Back’ is the real stand-out here, a short – though not quite sweet – tune produced by east London’s 808Melo. From the gun-like explosive delivery of the first lyric (“Buddy gon’ grip that, glit that, blit that, blit that / Send shots make him get back” ) you can’t help but reload the track again. ‘Get Back’ has courses with the ominous tone innate to UK drill. With his swagged cadence and unique vocal delivery, Smoke adds something new to the scene.
‘Meet The Woo 2’ does feature some slightly lacklustre – take the disappointing ‘Foreigner’, featuring fellow New York rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. A Boogie’s sloppy delivery might have been scraped entirely from the mixtape. Yet Pop Smoke’s latest is one for the mosh-pitting party goers. He definitely proves that – in his own words – “you can’t say pop and forget the smoke”.
Release Date: February 7
Record label: Victor Victor / Republic Records