Pop Smoke’s second posthumous album, “Faith,” is jam-packed with tons of features and bittersweet moments.
HONORABLE MENTION. WOO BABY
“Woo Baby” was made for the summer. It will get pool parties, clubs, and shaky birthday parties poppin. I am a major fan of the songs that Pop Smoke dedicates to the ladies; “Woo Baby” is one of those songs. Over this bouncier version of Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” beat, both Pop and Chris sing their asses off about smashing chicks that have asses that are made of jello. As expected, the two musicians sound thirsty as hell and ready to risk it all.
HONORABLE MENTION. BOUT A MILLION
Pop Smoke, 42 Dugg, and 21 Savage slide their asses off in “Bout A Million.” “Bout A Million” is so hard, that s**t makes me want to grab a can of raid and start spraying up my block (AKA my basement. Lately, there’s been mad spider crickets down there). Even though the song features a pretty pleasant drill beat and a melodic hook, what will catch your attention the most are the trill-ass verses that Pop, 42, and 21 bless us with. While the first two names I mentioned certainly do their thing, the last name I mentioned absolutely shines (I had no clue that 21 could ride beats as well as he did on this song).
I truly believe that Pop Smoke and Lil Tjay could’ve been one of hip-hop’s deadliest duos. When they link up, they tend to always be on the same page. In “Genius,” the two New York rappers shine together once again.
While Pop toys with a few melodies and flows in “Genius,” Tjay simply raps relentlessly about his dark/motivated ways. As for Swae Lee, the other dude on the song, he didn’t move the needle for me… (His verse wasn’t bad; I just don’t get why he’s on the song)…
4. TELL THE VISION
“Tell The Vision” is a dramatic banger that tackles the topic of success in a very unique way.
“Tell The Vision” is the following: Soulful, sly, and boisterous. The song features a beat that has both 007-Esque and spiritual vibes attached to it, an awful/outlandish Kanye West intro, a tough-ass verse by Pusha-T in which he reminds us how rich, successful, and self-motivated he is, and a bittersweet Pop Smoke verse in which he talks about “making it” and being ready for war.
I f**k with the transitions in this song a lot (You knew that a song featuring Kanye West would be far from simple).
3. BRUSH EM
One thing that annoys me about this album is that it doesn’t feature enough cold hard drill bangers. “Brush Em” is one of the only songs that move the needle when it comes to that department.
Pop Smoke and Rah Swish go back and forth in “Brush Em.” Throughout the song, the two rappers hit us with heinous lyrics about destroying and torturing opps. There is no way in hell that you can walk away from the track not being taken aback by the rugged raps Pop and Rah hit us with.
Damn, Pop said he kept a glock even when he was in church… Who did he have smoke with in his church’s congregation?
Pop Smoke’s charm is on full display in “Coupe.”
“Coupe” is one of those tracks that will remind you how special Pop Smoke was. The way that he cruises over the song’s hard-hitting beat, dropping off bars that have him sounding both violent and ambitious, is awesome to listen to. If I were to guess, “Coupe” is one of the few songs on this album that Pop was able to actually finish.
Just like “Brush Em,” “30” is a cold hard drill banger. The song is powered by this ghoulish drill beat and action-packed lyrics that would make Contra proud.
For the first half of “30,” Bizzy Banks introduces himself to the world by blessing us with effortless raps that will let you know that he’s street-certified. For the second half of the song, Pop takes over, hitting us with aggressive raps that explain exactly what he will do to you if you cross him the wrong way. Overall, the two rappers do a good job of coming across like two demented hitters that rap on the side.
The chemistry between Bizzy Banks and Pop Smoke is outstanding in this song.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. GOOD NEWS (N/A)
2. MORE TIME (3/5)
3. TELL THE VISION (4/5)
4. MANSLAUGHTER (3/5)
5. BOUT A MILLION (4/5)
6. BRUSH EM (4/5)
7. TOP SHOTTA (1/5)
8. 30 (4/5)
9. BEAT THE SPEAKER (4/5)
10. COUPE (4/5)
11. WHAT’S CRACKIN (4/5)
12. GENIUS (4/5)
13. MR. JONES (3/5)
14. WOO BABY INTERLUDE (N/A)
15. WOO BABY (4/5)
16. DEMEANOR (2/5)
17. SPOILED (2/5)
18. 8-BALL (1/5)
19. BACK DOOR (3/5)
20. MERCI BEAUCOUP (4/5)
21. QUESTIONS (3/5)
*22. RUN DOWN (4/5)
*23. MONEY MAN (3/5)
*24. DEFIANT (3/5)
*Indicates deluxe version.
Pop Smoke left quite the impression while he was still on this earth. I’m sure that everyone who listened to his music when he first came out knew that he had crazy potential. While you don’t quite get songs that sound complete, perfect, or even well-constructed on Faith, you do at least get to hear songs in which Pop shines bright..
As an avid music reviewer, I can honestly say that I’ve listened to and critiqued over 200 drill songs in the last two years. No drill artist I have ever heard makes the type of drill tracks that Pop Smoke makes. In my opinion, Pop knew how to effortlessly shift gears when it came to ferociousness in his music, caring less how unchained and unmarketable he came across. Because of this approach, it made it easy to feel like every verse that he dropped felt completely genuine. In Faith, the drill tracks that you hear aren’t perfect but they sound authentic, not watered down, or cheesy. In other words, Pop knew how to make any drill beat his b*tch; an attribute that lets you know how comfortable in his skin he felt.
Do you know what I like about Pop Smoke’s last two album releases? You get a chance to hear his experimental side on both of them. In Faith, Pop goes toe to toe with the Dua Lipas, the Chris Browns, the Pharrells, and the Kid Cudis of the world. Instead of shriveling under the pressure, he shows zero fear, and instead hits us with melodies that he has no business using and lyrics that are borderline cringeworthy. The experimental tracks is yet another attribute that lets you know that he was comfortable in his own skin.
The guest features on Faith aren’t horrible, but they are a little corny. I thought Chris Brown, Lil Tjay, Pusha-T, Quavo, Takeoff, and 21 Savage all did their thing on the album. But on the real, I would’ve preferred to hear more solo Pop tracks or tracks with up-and-coming drill rappers.
I love that folks are doing everything they can to extend Pop Smoke’s shelf life. While Faith is just a little too choppy, erratic, oft-kilter, and strange for me, listening to the album does solidify my suspicions of him having that “IT factor.”
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.