Two days ago, the ascendant New York rap star Pop Smoke was murdered in Los Angeles. He was only 20. Pop Smoke has been making music for just over a year, but he was already starting to realize his star potential, and the sound that he represented, the bubbling Brooklyn drill scene, was building towards something potentially huge. It’s an unfathomable loss. And today, one of Pop’s friends and collaborators has made an early attempt at processing that loss.
Lil Tjay, the 18-year-old Bronx sing-rapper, worked with Pop Smoke a couple of times during Pop’s short career. On their collabs “War” and “Mannequin,” they showed a real chemistry, with Pop Smoke’s gruff snarl bouncing off of Tjay’s sweet, hazy croon. They should’ve had a chance to make a whole lot more music together. Instead, as The FADER points out, Lil Tjay has just come out with “Forever Pop,” a song where he mourns his friend.
On “Forever Pop,” Tjay sounds flattened: “Can’t believe this shit, can’t believe this shit is true/ Took you out your glory, who would’ve wanted to see you lose?/ Woke up in the morning, seen my nigga on the news/ And I’m still like “damn,” tryna put together screws.” On the outro, we hear Pop Smoke’s voice, talking about how people like him aren’t supposed to make it, how they’ve got the odds stacked against them. Listen below.