Bashar Barakah Jackson (July 20, 1999 – February 19, 2020), well known by his stage name Pop Smoke, was an American rapper best known for his work with the Brooklyn drill. He gained stardom after releasing his breakout singles "Welcome to the Party" and "Dior" in 2019.
He was born and raised in Canarsie, Brooklyn. In July of this year, he released his first mixtape, Meet the Woo. Meet the Woo 2, his second mixtape, debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 on February 7, 2020, becoming the rapper's first top-10 project in the United States. Pop Smoke was killed in a house invasion in Los Angeles less than two weeks after the mixtape was released. Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, his posthumous debut studio album, opened at number one on the Billboard 200, with all 19 tracks charting on the Billboard Hot 100.
Bashar Barakah Jackson was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 20, 1999, to Audrey Jackson, a Jamaican mother, and Greg Jackson, a Panamanian father. He had a brother named Obasi, who was his older brother. While growing up in Canarsie, Brooklyn, Jackson attended nine different schools. As a child, he used to play the African drums in his local church.
After being accused of having a weapon, Jackson was expelled from eighth grade to bring a gun to school and spent two years house arrest. Jackson began his basketball career as a point guard and shooting guard. To attend Rocktop Academy, he moved to Philadelphia. After being diagnosed with a heart murmur, Jackson was forced to leave and eventually fled to the streets.
Pop Smoke is a combination of Poppa, a name given to him by his Panamanian grandmother, and Smocco Guwop, a nickname given to him by boyhood pals, according to a Genius interview. In 2018, he started his music career by going to a Brooklyn recording studio with fellow Jay Gwuapo. Gwuapo fell asleep after becoming intoxicated on narcotics. Jackson entered the booth for the first time to try his hand at rapping, to see if he could do it. He recorded his single "MPR (Panic Part 3 Remix)" using a rhythm he received from 808Melo's YouTube channel. He released "Flexin'" on January 28, 2019. Meanwhile, Jackson became acquainted with producer Rico Beats, who knew record executive Steven Victor.
The three scheduled an interview, and Jackson signed with Victor Victor Worldwide, a Universal Music affiliate, in April 2019.
Jackson's breakout track, "Welcome to the Party," was produced by 808Melo and released on April 23, 2019. The song was later remixed several times, with the commercially released versions including Nicki Minaj and Skepta. On July 26, 2019, Jackson released his first mixtape, Meet the Woo. Jackson released several singles between October and December 2019, including "War" with Lil Tjay and "100k on a Coupe" with Calboy. Jackson had an appearance on Travis Scott's Cactus Jack Records compilation album JackBoys on the song "Gatti," followed by a music video released December 27, 2019. "Gatti" debuted at number 69 on the US Billboard Hot 100, marking Jackson's first entry on the chart. Jackson will release "Christopher Walking" on January 16, 2020. Jackson released Meet the Woo 2, his second mixtape, on February 7, 2020, featuring Quavo, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Fivio Foreign, and Lil Tjay.
Jackson's first top-10 song in the United States came from the mixtape, which debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200.
A deluxe edition was released five days after the album was published, comprising three new tracks with guest appearances from Nav, Gunna, and PnB Rock. Jackson teased his debut headlining concert tour, Meet the Woo Tour, on social media to promote both of his mixtapes. The tour was supposed to start in March in the United States and end in April in the United Kingdom.
Jackson was staying in Hollywood Hills, California, on February 19, 2020, renting a home owned by Teddi Mellencamp and her husband, Edwin Arroyave, from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Five hooded guys, wearing a ski mask and carrying a weapon, burst into the house around 4:30 a.m. A call from the East Coast alerted the LAPD to the house invasion. Six minutes later, police arrived at the home and discovered Jackson with several gunshot wounds. Doctors performed a thoracotomy on the left side of his chest after he was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was declared deceased a few hours later.
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner announced on February 21 that Jackson died of a gunshot wound to the torso.
Following a succession of robberies at residences rented by artists, investigators suspected the location was a target for home invasions. Because Jackson was linked to the Crips, the LAPD initially suspected a gang-related death. His death, according to the LAPD, was the result of a botched home robbery.
Jackson and his friend Michael Durodola had shared many photographs on social media the day before his death, including one with Mellencamp's house address in the backdrop.
The rapper also shared a narrative about the gifts he received on Instagram and Facebook. On one of the packages, the full address of the residence was printed, revealing its location.
Jackson's body was initially scheduled to rest at Cypress Hills Cemetery, but it was eventually moved to Green-Wood Cemetery.
Jackson's family, friends, and fans gathered in his hometown of Canarsie, Brooklyn, to pay their respects. His coffin was transported in a horse-drawn carriage with glass windows and white curtains. Three adults and two juveniles were arrested on July 9, 2020, for the rapper's murder.
One adult suspect has been charged with murder with a unique circumstance alleging the killing occurred "during the commission of a robbery and a burglary." In contrast, another has been charged with attempted murder. In juvenile court, the two adolescents were charged with murder and robbery.
Jackson was taking a shower at a residence rented through Airbnb when masked males entered the home through a second-story balcony, according to new facts released in May 2021. A gun was pointed at the head of a woman who was staying with Jackson at the time in the residence, and one of the invaders threatened to kill her, saying, "Put a stop to it. Do you want to die? Jackson struggled in the shower and then screamed, according to the lady.
After Jackson exited the toilet, the woman heard a loud noise and saw him fall to the ground. Two more invaders started kicking him. The woman heard two more gunshots before Jackson was able to get up and escape downstairs. She chased after Jackson and yelled for Michael Durodola to phone 911 as he lay on the ground. Before fleeing the property, the attackers allegedly stole Jackson's gold watch and other valuables.
During a taped conversation with a cellmate in a juvenile jail center in May 2021, the 15-year-old, the youngest of the four intruders, allegedly confesses to killing Jackson for a diamond-studded Rolex.
The 15-year-old told his cellmate that Jackson initially agreed to their jewelry requests but then tried to fight them, resulting in a scuffle in which Jackson was pistol-whipped and shot with a Beretta M9. His Rolex was stolen and sold for $2,000 by the intruders.