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Bashar Barakah Jackson (July 20, 1999 – February 19, 2020), known professionally as Pop Smoke, was an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. He was considered by many to be the face of Brooklyn drill. Born and raised in Canarsie, Brooklyn, Pop Smoke began his musical career in late 2018 after releasing his debut single titled "Mpr (Panic Part 3 Remix)". He often collaborated with UK drill artists and producers, who employed more minimal and aggressive instrumentation than drill artists from Chicago. Pop Smoke rose to fame with the release of his breakout singles "Welcome to the Party" and "Dior" in 2019.
Following his rise to fame, Rico Beats introduced Pop Smoke to Steven Victor in April 2019. Victor would later have Pop Smoke sign a recording contract with Victor Victor Worldwide and Republic Records. He released his debut mixtape Meet the Woo in July 2019. His second mixtape, Meet the Woo 2, was released on February 7, 2020, and debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200, becoming the rapper's first top-10 project in the United States.
Less than two weeks after the release of the mixtape, Pop Smoke was fatally shot during a home invasion in Los Angeles. 50 Cent was the executive-producer of his posthumous debut studio album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, released on July 3, 2020. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and all 19 tracks from the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100. The album also spawned a string of international top-10 singles, including "For the Night" and "What You Know Bout Love".
On February 19, 2020, Pop Smoke was renting a house owned by The Real Housewives star Teddi Mellencamp and her husband, Edwin Arroyave, in Hollywood Hills, California. At around 4:30 a.m., four hooded men, including one wearing a ski mask and carrying a handgun, broke into the house.] The LAPD received news of the home invasion from a call from the East Coast. Police arrived at the home six minutes later and found Pop Smoke with multiple gunshot wounds. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors performed a thoracotomy on the left side of his chest. A few hours later, he was pronounced dead at the age of 20 years old.
On February 21, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner revealed that the cause of Pop Smoke's death was a gunshot wound to the torso. Investigators believed that the house was a target for home invasions following a string of robberies that took place at homes rented by musicians. The LAPD at first considered that Pop Smoke's death was gang-related as he was tied to the Crips. It also suspected that his killers may have been gang-affiliated. The LAPD later believed his death was the consequence of a home robbery gone wrong.
The day before his murder, Pop Smoke and friend Michael Durodola had posted several images on social media, including one in which Mellencamp's home address can be seen in the background. The rapper also posted a story on Instagram and Facebook of gifts he had received. One showed the house's full address on the packaging, giving out its location.
Pop Smoke's body was originally planned to be buried at the Cypress Hills Cemetery but was later changed to Green-Wood Cemetery. Family, friends, and fans of Pop Smoke gathered in his hometown of Canarsie, Brooklyn, to show their respects. His casket was pulled in a horse-drawn carriage and was surrounded by glass windows and white curtains. On July 9, 2020, three adult men and two minors were arrested for the murder of the rapper. Pop Smoke's suspected killers were identified as Corey Walker, 19; Keandre D. Rodgers, 18; Jaquan Murphy, 21, and two unnamed juveniles who were ages 15 and 17 at the time of the killing.
Walker and Rodgers were each charged with murder with a special circumstance that alleged the killing was committed "during the commission of a robbery and a burglary". A judge later determined that Rodgers was still a minor at the time of Pop Smoke's murder. Walker is being defended by defense attorney Christopher Darden, a former prosecutor from the O. J. Simpson murder case. After Walker refused any more delays in his case, witnesses were due to testify at a preliminary hearing in March 2021. Walker is eligible for the death penalty or life without parole if convicted on the murder charge. The two juveniles had also been charged with murder and robbery in juvenile court. Murphy was later charged with attempted murder.