Published Feb 20, 2020New York drill may be a new phenomenon in the city that never sleeps, but it surely isn't new. What once started in the streets of Southside Chicago and traveled to inner-city neighbourhoods in the UK has made its way back to America, and artists like 20-year-old Pop Smoke have been driving the boat.
Breaking out in 2019 with the viral hit "Welcome to the Party," which went on to feature both Nicki Minaj and Skepta on remix singles, Pop Smoke made a memorable entrance with his gritty sound, dog-like growls, and deep, anthem-sized voice. With the industry awaiting his next move, Meet the Woo 2 feels timely — at least it did when it dropped in early February, before his death on February 19.
With sounds averaging around two-and-a-half minutes, the 13-track album feels quickm but strong — even early singles "Christopher Walking" and "Dior" still feel fresh. It's the power of short and sweet, except Meet the Woo isn't sweet at all.
Opening with the braggadocios "Invincible," Pop Smoke establishes his position in the game: someone who understands the streets but still has a witty attitude to play with music and show his personality. As suggested on the Quavo-featured "Shake the Room," Pop Smoke's energy does just that, especially if you blast the bass-heavy album through industrial-sized speakers.
But if the opening tracks don't paint a picture of who Pop Smoke is or what he's trying to achieve, the boisterous "Foreigner," the battle-ready "War" or the eerie "Sweetheart," which feature fellow rising New York stars A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Lil TJay and Fivio Foreign respectively, do. He wants to win, but also wants his peers to rise with him.
Pop Smoke, who passionately said "I'm a thot, get me lit" on "Welcome to the Party," returns with that energy for "She Got a Thing" not just speaking about sexual endeavours, but addressing his two-step in the same breath. And in a similarly playful fashion, 808Melo, who handles a bulk of the album's production, and CZR Beats flip Ariana Grande's "7 Rings" for a pop-lite "Mannequin" that props in melody as much as it does gritty bars.
Though the tone of Pop Smoke's voice is already enough to set him apart from other artists coming out of New York, there's energy felt in his music that keeps you engaged. We'll have Meet the Woo 2 to remember that energy forever. (Victor Victor / Republic)