You’ll find the most compelling parallels in the most interesting places, places that may seem to be worlds apart for each other. This is the case for the protagonist of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Miles Morales, and rising Brooklyn rap star Pop Smoke.
Pop Smoke in a sense, was the hero New York rap needed.
As New York rap pioneer 50 Cent exited his prime over the last decade or so, the ‘King of New York’ throne seemed vacant. With upcoming New York rappers clawing at the throne, it seemed as though no one was quite fitting to be the successor of 50 Cent. Not his protege, but the next emcee to be the staple of New York Rap.
In 2019 as Pop Smoke was upcoming with his signature drill music style, he caught traction with the release of ‘Welcome to the Party’. His sound was notably very similar to 50 Cent’s. From his flow, too aggressive lyrics, it was immediately evident that 50 Cent had quite the influence on the young star. Pop Smoke was far from a 50 Cent “replica”. He had his own bag of tricks and his own unique style that mixed the New York drill music scene with luxury lifestyle rap.
The beginning and craft of Pop Smoke draws early similarities to those of Miles Morales.
In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles is a young teen from New York that unintentionally falls as the next successor to New York’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, after being bit by a glitchy radioactive spider.
After a series of events that leads Peter Parker from another dimension to be his mentor, Miles picks up web-slinging tricks and skills that seemed like reflections of the original Peter Parker himself. Don’t be fooled, Miles was not a direct replica. His own style and additional powers such as invisibility and electricity attacks, brought something new to the craft of dawning the Spider-Man suit. Not to mention the new Spider-Man would dawn a black and red suit opposed to traditional blue and red.
The character development of Pop Smoke is evident through his albums as Miles’ is evident through the movie scenes. Pop Smoke had a sound that was his go-to similar to 50’s. A sound that was on full display in his first projects Meet the Woo and Meet the Woo 2. Songs like “Welcome to the Party”, “Dior”, “Shake the Room”, and “Invincible” showcased both his ability to sit at the New York rap throne and add his own touch of the drill music he brought to the table.
After his second project, snippets surfaced of Pop tapping into some 2000’s R&B vibes where he is singing. The snippets provided a clear indication that Pop was just getting started, he had many more to reach for in his bag of rap tricks.
Posthumous album Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon was a mix of Pop Smoke’s full potential. Pop went full superstar mode, while channeling New York rap on a chart topping album. He was assisted by features from Lil Baby, Future, Roddy Ricch, and many more, as the album fell nothing short of a full representation of what the New York star could have been. One of the most notable tracks on the album was “Got It On Me”, which paid tribute to predecessor 50 Cent’s “Many Men (Wish Death). The song represented Pop Smoke’s soul dawning the king of New York crown.