In 2019, Pop Smoke was such a force to be reckoned with when it came to bringing Britain’s drill back to the States and breathing new life into the then-forgotten subgenre. But when his life was robbed last year after the 20-year-old was gunned down in an L.A. mansion, he left behind hundreds of finished verses, resulting in his posthumous album Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon. ‘. Well, it’s time to do it all again, “Faith” features huge hip-hop and R&B names such as Kanye West, 21 Savage, Pharrell and Kid Cudi.
The 15-track record is riddled with unnecessary features, leaving the raw talent still in these little remaining snippets of the Carnarsey star. One of the most anticipated songs on ‘Faith’, ‘DeMenour’, featuring UK pop phenomenon Dua Lipa, is underdeveloped and modest, the singer’s delivery uncompromising; With a few more changes, it might be worth releasing.
But the album has had some successful guest appearances: see Pharrell’s help on the slinky ‘Spoiled’ (though his group The Neptunes Lumpen did less well on ‘Top Shota’, which he produced) and industry legend Rick Ross and Superstar Producer – Singer-songwriter The-Dream appearance on floaty pop track ‘Manslaughter’. For the most part, however, the record’s high marks come when Pop Smoke is left alone on commercial pop-trap songs (the drill is typical for its absence throughout this record).
The perfect closing track, ‘Mercy Beaucoup’, exudes a subtle feel of loofy hip-hop tunes with an infectious UK drill-style bassline; This is arguably the best track on the album. Less than three minutes later, we have the old Wooster back, singing about “equipment” And all the women are making fun of him. Using a softness we didn’t see until the latter part of his career, “Mercy Beaucoup” is full of cocky bars to recite in the mirror or at the club: “I have nothing to prove / Either you win or you lose”.
On ‘Shoot for the Stars, Am for the Moon’, there were several hits that could easily be taken off the record; “What You Know About Love”, “For the Night” and “The Woo” are all Top 20 hits, proving Smoke wrong about her posthumous debut. But this one — from The Neptunes cramming A-list features to an obvious money grab to produce a bad song — doesn’t end anywhere. Buried by the star power that embraces pop smoke, “Faith” feels more insidious than its predecessor.
Release Date: July 16
Record Label: Republic Records