Pop Smoke, a 20-year-old rapper from Brooklyn, was shot dead on Hercules Drive in the Hollywood Hills in the early hours of February 19. Pop Smoke’s real name was Bashar Barakah Jackson.
Online records show that the shooting took place at the home of Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave, the daughter of singer John Mellencamp, and star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Mellencamp owns the home along with her husband, Edwin Arroyave.
Local media first reported on the shooting, which occurred at 4:30 a.m. local time. TMZ was the first to name Smoke as the victim in the shooting. TMZ described the shooting as being part of a home invasion robbery. Social media posts show that Pop Smoke’s friend, actor Michael Durodola, was staying at the home too.
In a statement following the shooting, Mellencamp said, “Early this am we were informed by a 3rd party leasing and management company overseeing a rental home we own in Los Angeles that a shooting had taken place at the property. Foremost, we would like to extend our prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones affected by this tragic loss of life. We aren’t aware of any of the details beyond what we’ve been told or seen reported on the news and at this time we would like to refrain from commenting further as we wish for the focus to remain on the law enforcement officers who are diligently doing their jobs.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. There Are No Suspects in Custody; Authorities Say That There Could Be as Many as 6
At the time of writing, there are no suspects in custody in relation to the shooting. ABC Los Angeles, citing police sources, said one suspect was seen running on Hercules Drive wearing a ski mask. Shortly after news spread that Pop Smoke had been killed, fellow New York rapper Nicki Minaj, posted a photo on Instagram with the caption, “The Bible tells us that jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Unbelievable. Rest In Peace, Pop.”
Smoke was rushed to Cedars Sinai hospital in West Hollywood where he was pronounced dead. Pop Smoke died in the same hospital as Biggie Smalls.
Heavy has reached out to Pop Smoke’s camp for comment on the story. Authorities said that there could be as many as six suspects in the shooting.
A “Today” feature on the fact that Mellencamp was selling her home described it as a 3,000-square-foot house with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The exterior is described as being Mediterranean-style but with a modern interior.
2. Pop Smoke Had Been Celebrating That He Was Living in Beverly Hills
Above was Pop Smoke’s final Instagram post, which was sent around 12 hours before his tragic death. While on his Instagram story on the day before his death, Pop Smoke celebrated the fact that he was living in Beverly Hills:
Pop Smoke’s final tweet came just before his death, judging by the timestamp:
3. Pop Smoke Released His 2nd Mixtape in February 2020
Smoke had released his second mixtape, “Meet the Woo 2,” in February 2020. The tape featured fellow rappers, Quavo, A Boogie wit da Hoodie and Lil Tjay.” Smoke’s first album was released in 2019, titled, “Meet the Woo.” The breakout single from the record was, “Welcome to the Party.” Quickly, Pop Smoke became a celebrity in his home neighborhood of Canarsie. One review of his work said that Smoke kept up with the Brooklyn tradition of “spreading love” by sharing the mic with other young Brooklyn rappers.
On his Spotify page, it describes Smoke getting his start in music “almost by accident.” That bio says that Smoke was present in the studio while his friends were recording verses, during that time, he began to write his own lyrics. The profile goes on, “Couched firmly in Brooklyn’s rising drill scene, Smoke combined his booming, smoke vocals with the sonics of Chicago and London drill.”
New York City hip-hop legend Funkmaster Flex spoke glowingly of Pop Smoke when speaking to the New York Times in September 2019 saying, “The way he attacks the track is definitely those type of guys [50 Cent, G-Unit, DMX]. I love his energy, his vibe, his song.” Flex had rotated the song, “Welcome to the Party” on his Hot 97 show.
Smoke told The Fader in December 2019 that he had originally dreamed of a career in sports, excelling in football, baseball and basketball. Smoke said, “I thought I was gonna go to Howard, go over there and join a fraternity. It wasn’t always rapping. Who would have thought I would be a rapper?”
4. At the Time of His Death, Pop Smoke Was Out on Bail
In January 2020, Pop Smoke was accused of illegally transporting a 2019 Rolls-Royce Wraith car across state lines. The owner of the car said he had loaned the vehicle to the rapper in California to be used in a video. The New York Times reported that the car was worth $375,000.
In exchange, Pop Smoke had promised the owner VIP access to an upcoming concert. The car was later found outside of Pop Smoke’s mother’s home in the Canarsie-section of Brooklyn, New York. The California license plate had been switched to Alabama plates. Smoke had pleaded not guilty to the crime and was released on a $250,000 bail.
Pop Smoke said in a February 2020 interview with Ange Martinez on New York’s Power 105.1 that the allegations against him were untrue and the incident was a result of “foolishness.”
In December 2019, Smoke was pulled from the Rolling Loud festival in Los Angeles just before it was due to start. He, along with several other rappers, had been deemed to be a threat to security by authorities. Smoke told Justin Credible on Power 106 about his feelings on the matter saying, “We come from places where it’s like, it ain’t the sweetest. When you stop us from doing shows like that, you hurt us, you know what I’m sayin’? Like, you trying to keep us there.” The rapper added that he felt as though the authorities had made him out to be a “super bad guy.”
5. Rapper Have Already Begun to Flood Twitter With Messages of Remembrance & Condolences
As news of Pop Smoke’s tragic passing spread, fellow rappers have taken to Twitter en masse to mourn yet another young rapper who has been shot dead. Here are some of the most passionate messages: