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As each decade passes, it seems we are losing more young, dexterous artists as each day passes. The recent losses of stars such as Juice WRLD and Nipsey Hussle has become all too normal. On February 19, 2020, the world suffered another heartbreaking blow with the loss of Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke. Not only was Pop on the rise with his own hits Welcome to the Party and Dior, but was also bringing attention to a new brand of New York Hip Hop: Brooklyn Drill.
Heavily influenced by Chicago’s scene, and the inherent UK Drill movement, Brooklyn rappers began to take interest in the candid portraits painted of urban Chicago that drastically differed from the superfluousness of mainstream Hip Hop lyricism. In an interview with Complex, Chicago Drill producer Young Chop explained “Drill music is gangster rap. It was no different than N.W.A. in the late 80s. We had the most shocking, most provocative shit in the world.”
The New York movement came to be when London-based producer AXL was contacted by Brooklyn Drill Godfather 22Gz in 2016 after the rapper had recorded his landmark hit “Suburban” over a beat of AXL’s that the producer had posted on YouTube. As soon as the track hit the city, 22Gz and other up and coming rappers began contacting AXL for more beats to soundtrack Empire City’s newest movement.
By 2018, Bashar Barakah Jackson, soon to be known as Pop Smoke, was determined to take over the scene. After dabbling with beats ripped from YouTube and mimicking the styles of contemporaries Sheff G and 22Gz, Pop began to form his own sound. He found AXL’s email and requested some beats from the producer. After a few emails back and forth, Pop received the beat for what would become his breakout track Welcome to the Party; the track that put Brooklyn Hip Hop back on the map. In just two years, Pop Smoke went from not knowing how to rap to hip hop’s most sought after rapper, just to be taken away from the world while on the brink of his success.
After celebrating what would have been Pop’s 21st birthday, our newest August AUX GNRE playlist highlights the scene Pop came up through, and is still going strong today.

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