Nowadays, if he’s not producing award-winning television shows, rapper and media mogul 50 Cent is online talking and trolling. Although 50 Cent, akin to Kanye West, can sometimes be controversial when he takes to platforms such as Twitter, during one Instagram live, the emcee (real name Curtis Jackson) began professing his affinity for a particular artist and even admitted that he “fell in love” with this individual’s music.
Taking to the internet in 2020, while under quarantine, Jackson began showing his softer side as he spoke to fans about the late Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke. 50 Cent was honoured to meet Pop Smoke during his prime and admitted he saw a lot of himself in the young man.
The late Brooklyn rapper (real name Bashar Jackson) was one of the first US artists to adopt the UK’s spin on Drill. However, the genre, which originated in Chicago, has a strange timeline and story. Drill surfaced as a subgenre in rap music shortly after trap exploded in the US. Initially cultivated in Chicago, it was a gritty twist of trap music that (at first) was hyper-localised.
Taking the 808s of the Atlanta sound, Chicago’s answer was more discordant, highly ominous and, having emerged out of Chicago’s Southside was a genre that came hand-in-hand with unnerving gang culture. Although in 2012, artists such as Chief Keef achieved a fair amount of success with the sound in the US, it never managed to grip the American listeners en masse. However, in the UK, it did. As evidenced by grime, Black British youth have always taken to raw, discordant and abrasive music.
Taking elements from the Chicago genre, such as the nasty bass, but adding signatures from grime, such as legato slides distorted samples, the sonic, which rapidly gained traction, came to be known as UK drill. However, as New York artists such as A$AP Rocky began to realise the UK was starting to favour its own rap music more over the US, before long, artists such as Drake and Pop Smoke began to catch on to what was being consumed and who was producing it.
In 2020 Drake released ‘War’ produced by AXL Beats a renowned London-based UK drill producer. However, long before the Toronto singer did, Pop Smoke had worked with AXL as well as other UK producers like 808Melo. When the Brooklyn rapper brought the British sonic back to the US he exploded and began receiving an unfathomable amount of attention. Singles such as ‘Dior’ and ‘Welcome To The Party’ were getting certified platinum, and before long, Jackson was liaising with 50 Cent. Speaking on his encounter with Smoke, 50 Cent told his followers, “See, Pop Smoke, that was one of my favourites. I liked that n*gga, man. I swear to God. I like that n*gga man!”
He continued, “I met him. We was talking, and I was like, ‘yo’. I’m watching him, right. He keep playing with his phone! These little n*ggas play with they phone all the time. I’m like ‘yo, what the f*ck is wrong with this n*gga?” However, shortly 50 realised that Pop was writing notes and taking his advice. “I said, ‘Oh sh*t!’ See it’s a difference between a n*gga copying you. That’s not copying. He never copied one f*cking thing from me. He just looked at it, he saw what was good in it. It influenced him, and he was doing his own thing with it. I fell in love with the n*gga at that point.”
50 Cent went on to executively produce Pop Smoke’s posthumous album. You can hear the ‘Many Men’ emcee speaking about the late drill rapper in the video below.