Up and coming Brooklyn Rapper Pop Smoke, best known so far for hits such Welcome To The Party and Dior, was fatally shot during a home invasion in Hollywood Hills in the early hours of February 19th. The 20-year-old rapper, whose real name was Bashar Baraka Jackson, was unmarried and it’s even unclear as to whether or not he had a girlfriend at the time of his death. He grew up in a West Indian neighborhood in Canarsie and his father was Panamanian and his mother was Jamaican.
Y’all know him as Pop Smoke, but to me he’s Bashar Jackson.
We went to the same church. I saw him grow up.
His mother is studying to become a pastor. His brother is in college.
Truly stunned & saddened to hear about the death of this young man. Praying for his family &village.
— Rhonesha Byng (@NeshasAgenda) February 19, 2020
According to the New York Times, he had moved from his family’s duplex in a middle class part of Brooklyn and was living in a home that he was renting from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave. His stage name was a blend of two nicknames he had when he was younger. His grandmother used to call him ’Papa’ and ‘Smoke Oh Guap’ was a monicker that was quite often used by his friends from the neighborhood.
Rest Up Pop Smoke, you were too young. God Bless and comfort your family. What a crazy trajectory you were on man smh 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) February 19, 2020
Pop Smoke apparently grew up with a strong female presence and had an early love of sports and he played baseball, football and basketball. In the 8th grade, he was kicked out of school for bringing a gun into school with him. According to the London style magazine The Face, Pop Smoke ‘attended at least nine different schools as part of a diversion program connected to a weapon charge that has since been dismissed.’ Quite the junior high experience.
A next door neighbor of Pop Smoke’s, Jessica Lowe, told the New York Times that the gravel-voiced rapper would often carry her groceries up the steps for her when she was returning home from shopping. She also said that he was very friendly with her and her entire family. Jessica stated that she was beyond shocked and thought that the news was a joke was she first heard of the home invasion and murder of her former neighbor.
“I’m glad it happened as a kid,” Pop Smoke said to the Times, referring to his weapon toting troubles in junior high. “I realized it’s time to boss up — life ain’t sweet.” He had hoped to make music that spoke to young people growing up in situations similar to him, those who “got to carry their guns to school because it ain’t safe, but they still got to make sure they get they diploma ’cause they mom could be happy. I do it for them.”