“Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon” Perfectly Displayed Pop Smoke’s Out Of This World Trajectory (Review)

“Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon” Perfectly Displayed Pop Smoke’s Out Of This World Trajectory (Review)

As time has gone by, I continually think about the tragic passing of Pop Smoke. Death seems to be the main theme of 2020 and having Pop Smoke be a part of that hurts everyone. He was starting a revolution in New York, on the rise to stardom. All eyes were on him and having him be taken away from us at 20 years old is unimaginably heartbreaking. Even with me being late to his movement, I loved the attention and direction Pop was moving in. I didn’t love Meet the Woo 2 initially, I only gave it a 6.5. Realistically I would probably keep it around there, but one thing was undeniable; his presence was front-and-center. The music spoke for itself. The bangers only got better with each listen, and the talent was clear.

With this new album Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon, a lot of questions ran through my mind. It’s so tricky with album reviews because you never know which direction to go in. I’ve covered posthumous albums before, but a few factors scared me away from reviewing this. For starters, the tracklist oddly enough only featured one Brooklyn artist, Lil Tjay. It seemed like there should’ve been appearances by Fivio Foreign, Sheff G or Sleepy Hallow as someone that cared quite a bit about putting on fellow Brooklyn emcees. Instead, we got King Combs, Tyga, and—a declining—DaBaby. Secondly, the horrible album cover by scammer of the year Virgil Abloh angered just about everyone.

All of those made me hate the direction this was going towards. It felt like sabotage of Pop Smoke’s legacy by his team. Despite all of those detractors, Pop still managed to put on a superstar showing. Every track is damn near catchy and details why he was ascending towards 50 Cent’s level of notability. The intro “Bad Bitch From Tokyo” is a classic Pop Smoke track of a dark, trap banger with bars of fashion and cars. It seemed like an unfinished track at first that could have been kept in the vault. But then he says,

“I looked my killer in his eyes, I’m talking face-to-face”

Suddenly my sadness rises, how am I supposed to get over that?

Well, Pop gives me no time to grieve, because he wants me to party. “Aim For The Moon” is right in his wheelhouse, along with the beginning of me realizing the great chemistry he and Quavo had. What seemed like a nightmare situation turned out to be a blessing with three Quavo features. The featured single “Make It Rain” is another hard club-anthem with a Rowdy Rebel guest appearance from prison. The “I’ll make it rain on Wooever” hook makes me want to get a bunch of singles and pretend as if I can even attend a strip club. “Creature” with Swae Lee had a beautiful contrast of sound that came together in perfect haunting harmony.

What You Expect?

The biggest worry was the tracklist, seeing all of those mainstream features. It had the potential to take away from the personality and authenticity of Pop’s sound. However that wasn’t the case on this, they actually added to some really good songs to make them greats. “For The Night” has Pop take command with his deep harmonies on the hook while Lil Baby shows once again 2020 is his year. DaBaby was clearly in last, but his verse wasn’t detrimental to the track. “The Woo” is an absolute vibe that you listen to on an exotic island. Trading melodies with Roddy was an excellent showing of Pop’s versatility. “Diana” was going to be a smash whether King Combs was on it or not, however, it was one of the better features in his catalog.

With all of those features, it’s no question that the best songs are when Pop goes solo. “44 BullDog” and “Gangstas” stamp his rightful claim to the throne of New York drill. “Yea Yea” and “Something Special” was proof that no matter what musical direction he’d go in, it was going to be distinct. “Got it On Me” proved that he was following right in 50’s footsteps as a viral sensation. That’s what makes this so hard when you come back to reality, we lost a star too soon. It finally felt like New York had its star, someone the state could rely on for great music and it was cut short. Super short. It hurts right now to think about what could have been. Pop Smoke’s personality, cadence, sound, and impact will never be forgotten.

SCORE: 8.4/10