Pop Smoke’s 2nd studio album Faith was released on July 16th. This was also his 2nd posthumous album, with his debut studio album Shoot For the Stars, Aim for the Moon in July of 2020, after the young rapper’s untimely death in February of last year at the age of 20.
Coming up hot off of two back-to-back smash hit mixtapes in 2019 and 2020, Meet the Woo and Meet the Woo 2, as well as their subsequent deluxe editions, Pop Smoke was known for bringing a versatile sound and unique, deep raspy voice to the New York Drill scene. With Meet the Woo 2 only being released weeks before Pop Smoke was killed, that left his commercial debut and first posthumous album, Shoot For the Stars, Aim for the Moon a collection of unreleased material with producers and features filling in the gaps to flesh it out into a full, cohesive album.
So where does that leave this project, Faith? Unfortunately, the answer is scattered, and stretched a little thin.
There are a handful of good, standout tracks on this album, but at just under an hour in runtime for a project 20 tracks long, it’s disappointing that there’s not more to be found. For as memorable and unique a character as Pop is, there are a lot of songs here that don’t have that staying power, or are just bland.
The album gets off to a solid start with some of the best songs right up at the front. “Tell the Vision” featuring Kanye West and Pusha T has a great feature from Pusha, and Kanye’s influence on the production comes through in some moody piano and children’s choir samples that give a bit of an edge to the drill sound of the beat. “Brush Em” featuring Rah Swish is a straight up violent drill banger with a hard bass and great energy on the verses. Similarly on “30” the beat goes hard, but the feature Bizzy Banks takes up a lot of space on the track’s runtime with Pop Smoke only on a verse and some adlibs.
This illustrates a broader problem with the album: Faith is packed with a star studded list of features, from the aforementioned Kanye and Pusha T, to Future, Takeoff, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Dua Lipa and more. But with this extensive guest list, there are a lot of moments on the album that it feels like people padding out tracks to adjust for the lack of material from Pop Smoke, making it feel like Pop is an afterthought on his own songs.
Paired with a few production choices that, when they aren’t indistinguishable from each other or from any other New York drill rapper’s beats, they’re oddly out of character for Pop’s voice and come off as an odd fit for an otherwise very adaptable rapper. Pop Smoke’s versatility is reflected on this album as a tracklist that’s unfocused and a broad range of ideas that feel left unfinished.
Published by HOLR Magazine