Who is the greatest rapper of all time? It’s a question that has dominated the rap community since the ’80s when the popularity of the genre exploded. It’s an interesting question, but not the one we’re here to discuss today. Instead, I want to talk about consistency.
Bashar Barakah Jackson, popularly known as Pop Smoke, was a rapper from Brooklyn who rose to fame after his debut album “Meet the Woo” released in 2019. His unique voice and hard-hitting beat patterns led him to become one of the most popular rappers in the industry. Pop Smoke was the face of the explosion of Brooklyn drill, a genre characterized by aggressive beats. In Feb. 2020, just weeks after releasing his second studio album, Pop Smoke was murdered during a burglary in Los Angeles. In the following years, his label has released two posthumous records, both of which reached the top of the Billboard Top 200. In any reasonable discussion of consistency, Pop Smoke must be mentioned. But first, a brief definition of consistency.
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, consistency is defined as “the quality of always behaving in the same way.” That said, there are a couple key points I feel are especially important to point out. The first aspect of true consistency is volume. In order to be considered prolific and consistent, an artist needs to have a relatively deep discography. Second, and most important, is quality; pumping out music means nothing if there’s no quality behind it.
At this point, you may be thinking that this definition applies to a number of other rappers, and you’d be right. Artists like Eminem, Drake, Wayne and Kanye are known for their large discographies that have mass appeal. But there’s one final element that pushes Pop Smoke above the rest in terms of consistency: all of his songs sound the same. More specifically, his style of drill rap allows each verse to flow in a similar fashion. Each line follows a repetitive rhythm, ending with an emphasis on the last word. It feels like he’s spitting out the last couple syllables, regardless of the verse or song. Every Pop Smoke song that you’ll listen to sounds extremely similar to his other songs, yet they all go hard.
I’ve said that all his songs sound the same, but that doesn’t paint the full picture. Pop Smoke has worked with prolific producers, such as Rico Beats and 808Melo, who have been instrumental in improving the quality of his songs. Additionally, many of his most popular songs are the ones that buck the trend of aggressive beats and slightly monotone flow. But even in those songs that stray away from the blueprint, there’s still the Pop Smoke effect, where his verses sound the same regardless of beat pattern. Songs like “Hello” and “What You Know Bout Love” absolutely sound different from his traditional repertoire, but the moment he gets into the bulk of his rapping, the classic Pop Smoke consistency returns.
There is a reason for his consistency in sound. While the Brooklyn drill genre existed before Pop Smoke burst onto the scene, he really popularized it. His specific sound became associated with the genre as a whole. That allowed him to fall into a lane and consistently produce similar music, according to the Recording Academy.
Pop Smoke is not the only artist to produce one type of music. Many rappers operate in similar fashion, pumping out the same songs on repeat. But, at the end of the day, no rapper has a discography that features such consistent bangers. Pop Smoke made the same music: It’s consistent, and it always goes hard.