By the time officers arrived six minutes after the call, one person had been shot, and the intruders had fled, he said. The victim was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center but could not be revived. There were no arrests at the scene, and the motive was still unclear, Lurie said.
Pop Smoke emerged last year as the first breakout star of Brooklyn’s growing drill scene with his hit Welcome to the Party, which became the ubiquitous hip-hop song of the summer. A gravel-voiced rapper with a barklike delivery, he quickly honed a signature approach that recalled the rougher New York rap of the 1990s.
His fame was rising quickly. In July, he released his first album, Meet the Woo, and in the months since, he collaborated with Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott, Quavo and others. His second album, Meet the Woo, Vol. 2, was released this month, opening at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart, and he was scheduled to go on tour in March. He travelled to London earlier this month for a series of radio and magazine interviews.
Nicki Minaj, who appeared on a remix of Welcome to the Party, posted a photo of the rapper to Instagram with the caption, “The Bible tells us that jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Unbelievable. Rest In Peace, Pop.”
He grew up in a middle-class area of Canarsie, Brooklyn, the child of Panamanian and Jamaican parents. A stream of mourners Wednesday paid a visit to his family home, one half of a two-story brick-and-siding duplex on East 105th Street. In an interview with music website Genius last year, he said he created his stage name from two childhood nicknames: Papa, given to him by his Panamanian grandmother, and Smoke, part of a name his friends had given him.
He’d had legal problems: He was arrested last month on charges of transporting a stolen $US375,000 Rolls-Royce from California to New York and previously had to wear an ankle monitor as part of a court diversion program connected to a weapon charge, which was eventually dismissed. “I was literally wilding for respect,” he told The New York Times last year.
Even as he was on the path to becoming the biggest New York rap success story in recent memory, the New York Police Department prevented him from performing at the Rolling Loud festival in Queens in October, citing safety concerns.
Pop Smoke is one of several notable rappers to have died in the last couple of years. Accidental drug overdoses have claimed the lives of established rappers including Mac Miller and up-and-comers like Juice WRLD and Lil Peep. Shootings have killed Nipsey Hussle, XXXTentacion and a host of rappers well-known in their local scenes.
In Los Angeles, he was living in a four-bedroom rental home on a steep winding road, with a backyard pool that has a view of the hills. It is owned by Teddi Mellencamp, a star on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and her husband, Edwin Arroyave. Mellencamp said on Instagram that she received word about the crime from a third-party management company overseeing the rental property.
“We would like to extend our prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones affected by this tragic loss of life,” she wrote.
Josh Adams, 35, who lives a few blocks away, came by Wednesday, looking on as police blocked the roadway and helicopters circled overhead.
“Where he comes from, what he represented, I can relate to a lot of the stories he talks about in his music,” said Adams, a video editor who grew up in south Los Angeles.
But Pop Smoke was also musically unique, he said. “He just had this real muffled, deep voice, and you kind of almost end up talking like him after a record of hearing him.”
Pop Smoke’s lyrics were unabashedly profane but original, he said. Adams pointed out that the rapper inverted the meaning of “thot,” a derogatory term for a sexually active woman, by proudly identifying as a “thot” himself.
Adams started chanting the hook of Welcome to the Party.
“The vibe, the way he sung the song, it was one of those records and one of the artists and one of those sounds that the world could resonate with,” he said.
Fanny Jooste, who lives across the street, said she had no idea a famous rapper had been living there, adding that the people in the home were usually quiet.
She said she was surprised that the security vans that patrol the neighbourhood at night hadn’t happened upon the crew in the act.
Many of the homes on the road have multiple security cameras pointing at the street, though most, including the one where Pop Smoke lived, do not have gates. Many fans online noted that the day before he was shot, the rapper had posted photos on Facebook showing a stack of cash and a gift bag label with his Los Angeles address, perhaps unwittingly providing bait to thieves.
Neighbourhood residents and fans continued arriving Wednesday, staying only briefly once they realised police were not letting anyone near the house. From time to time a car would drive up to the tape, a Pop Smoke track thumping from the speaker, and turn around after its passengers snapped a few photos.
Adams would not let his 11-year-old daughter come by, however.
She had discovered Pop Smoke on TikTok. “That’s my daughter’s favourite rapper,” Adams said.
“She’s not taking it well,” he said. “The first thing, she’s like, ‘All the rappers are dying.'”
New York Times