How Did Pop Smoke Die? The Tragic Story of a Young Man’s Murder [Updated 2023]

how did pop smoke die? a board commemorating pop smoke
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Last updated on September 7th, 2023 at 01:44 am

Pop Smoke was already one of hip hop’s brightest talents by his death in 2020. His star kept rising after his death, with the Brooklyn drill rapper producing two record-breaking posthumous Billboard 200 number-one albums.

But how did Pop Smoke die? In this article, we’ll cover how he met his untimely end, who was responsible, what happened to him, and what made him such a memorable artist.

Pop Smoke’s Career

Pope Smoke was born Bashar Barakeah Jackson in Brooklyn, New York, on July 20, 1999.

He had a troubled childhood, turning to life on the street after he was expelled for bringing a gun to school in eighth grade.

Pop Smoke later started rapping after visiting a recording studio with rapper Jay Gwuapo. Gwuapo fell asleep after getting high, and Smoke jumped on the mic to see if he could do it. 

His single “MPR” was the result of this session. Over time Pop Smoke became known for reviving interest in Brooklyn drill after the popularity of his mixtapes. 

His breakout single “Welcome to the Party” was produced by UK drill producer 808Melo, and was boosted by remixes by Nicki Minaj and Skepta. 

Pop Smoke did not release a full-length studio album before his death, but his two posthumous albums hit number one on the Billboard chart, with his debut Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon being certified double Platinum.

Related: How did Juice WRLD Die? A Tragic Story

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Image from Shutterstock.

How Did Pop Smoke Die?

On February 19, 2020, Pop Smoke was staying at an Airbnb rental in Hollywood Hills, California. At 4:30 am a group of hooded men broke into the house through the second-story balcony while the rapper was in the shower. 

A woman named Amelia Rose was staying with Pop Smoke at the time. The group accosted her, and a man wearing a ski mask held a handgun to her head and threatened to kill her.

Shortly after, Ms. Rose heard the men engage in an altercation with Pop Smoke and subsequently shoot him three times.

The LAPD arrived in six minutes following a call from the east coast, and Pop Smoke was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Doctors performed a thoracotomy on his chest, but the young star was pronounced dead within a few hours. 

The coroner later found that a gunshot wound to the torso was the cause of death

In the 24 hours leading up to the attack, Pop Smoke posted a picture of a package on his Instagram that displayed the property’s address, and it seems this tipped the killers off to his location. 

Related: How Did Notorious B.I.G Die? Inside the Rap Legend’s Final Hours

What Was the Motive for Pop Smoke’s Murder?

At first, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) investigated Pop Smoke’s murder as gang-related, as the young rapper had ties to the Crips. However, the police later determined that it was simply a robbery that turned violent.

However, all five of the eventual suspects in Pop Smoke’s murder were reportedly members of a South Los Angeles gang.

LAPD Det. Carlos Camacho testified that a police informant helped authorities secretly record a conversation with Pop Smoke’s killer, a 15-year-old who cannot be named due to his age.

The 15-year-old allegedly told his cellmate that he killed the rapper to get his diamond-studded Rolex. 

He elaborated that Pop Smoke initially handed over some jewelry but started fighting the robbers. He then pistol-whipped and shot the rapper in the back.

The robbers later sold Pop Smoke’s Cuban link chain and Rolex for a paltry $2000.

Related: The 21 Best Rap Songs of All Time 

What Happened to Pop Smoke’s Alleged Killers?

According to the BBC and USA Today, four males were charged with Pop Smoke’s death: Corey Walker, 19; Keandre Rodgers, 18; and an undisclosed 17-year-old and 15-year-old. 24-year-old Jaquan Murphy was also arrested in connection with the killing but eventually wasn’t charged.

Life in prison remains a possibility for Corey Walker. He appeared in a Los Angeles court in October 2021 concerning the charges, where his lawyer claimed that Walker did not even enter the property.

The lawyer filed a motion to dismiss the charges, and the motion was to be reviewed at a hearing on December 3, 2021. However, further news on Walker’s case has yet to be publicized. 

Update #1: One of Pop Smoke’s Killers Sentenced

On April 6, the man who was 18 at the time of Pop Smoke’s murder, who is now 20, was sentenced in Los Angeles.

The judge gave him four years in a juvenile treatment facility. Upon the sentencing, the judge scolded the still unnamed young man. 

“I don’t know how you and your friends even came to the idea to rob someone, someone whose life was taken unnecessarily,” he said.

The other three men accused of killing Pop Smoke still await trial. 

Related: How Did Takeoff Die? 

Update #2: Jaquan Murphy’s Brother Found Dead

In July 2023, the body of Javonnta Murphy was found decomposing in a barrel in Malibu. He had died of a single gunshot to the head. Javonnta was the brother of Jaquan Murphy, who was one of the suspects in the murder of Pop Smoke, but he wasn’t charged.

Since all five suspects were members of a South Los Angeles gang, Javonnta’s death is being investigated as a possible “retaliation killing” for Pop Smoke’s murder.


Was Pop Smoke Setup?

In the wake of Pop Smoke’s death, many fans asserted on social media that his killing was a setup. Numerous fans refused to believe the circumstances of his death were coincidental.

On Twitter, a fan summed up these notions as follows: “The newly released details from the Pop Smoke trial are very much pointing to a setup. They just so happened to pull up when he was in the shower? Through the balcony? And shorty that was with him had a gun pointed to her head then they decided ‘nah let’s leave her alone’?”

The LAPD did indeed assert that the robbers had gang connections, and Pop Smoke had links to the Crips, so it’s not out of the question that the shooting was either gang-related, a setup, or both.

However, as mentioned, the LAPD’s investigation found the killing was a robbery gone wrong, and they dismissed it as a setup or motivated by the men’s gang connections. 

At this stage, there does not appear to be compelling evidence to disprove their conclusion. 

What Were Pop Smoke’s Last Words?

During an appearance on WeTV’s Hip Hop Homicides, Ms. Rose revealed Pop Smoke’s last words. 

She stated: “Pop said he was going upstairs. I’m sitting on the bed, and I’m starting to take off my clothes, and he said, ‘Okay, I will come back.’ He was going to the restroom. Those were his last words.”

Related: The Unexpected Death of Rapper XXXTenacion

Pop Smoke’s Funeral

Pop Smoke’s funeral was larger than life, just like the man himself. Thousands of Brooklyn residents lined the streets on March 5, 2020, to farewell the hip-hop star.

His funeral procession went through the Canarsie neighborhood, with a pair of white horses pulling his hearse, where his casket was visible through glass.

Pop Smoke’s friend 50 Cent lent his custom Versace Lamborghini to appear with the top down in the procession, although he wasn’t behind the wheel himself.

Barricades were set up to control fans during the event, and the LAPD attended to maintain security. It wasn’t a quiet affair, though, as fans blasted his music and popped champagne to toast him as he went past.

Pop Smoke was later laid to rest in a private ceremony for family and close friends.

The solemn occasion was marred for the family when someone managed to take photos of Pop Smoke’s body lying in state and posted them on social media.

The late rapper’s brother Mike Dee put the poster on blast on his Instagram for the disrespectful move.

“Who TF sat in the funeral and took a pic of my brother in the casket?” he said. “Like n****s got no life, no morals, why even show up to the funeral if you gonna be on some fan s**t?

“The f***ing world we live in son n***s wanna sit on social media and do anything to gain clout.”

Related: The 14 Best Rappers of All Time 

Pop Smoke’s Death Video

There is footage online from the night of Pop Smoke’s death, although no footage showing the actual shooting. 

TMZ published footage from outside Pop Smoke’s accommodation that shows Los Angeles Fire Department staff wheeling an unresponsive man into an ambulance. Numerous police officers can also be seen operating outside the luxury home. 

second source published CCTV footage that is claimed to show the men who killed Pop Smoke breaking into his property. 

The footage was reported on and analyzed by TMZ, although their article on the CCTV footage does not host the video. 

How Old Was Pop Smoke When He Died?

Pop Smoke was just 20 years old at the time of his tragic death. He was born on July 20, 1999, so at the time of his murder on February 19, 2020, he was just five months shy of his 21st birthday. 

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Written by Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a songwriter, musician, journalist, and podcaster based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s released over a dozen albums since 2002, most recently Old Dog Almost Gone (2021), the first-ever multimedia album, and his latest collection of all original material, A Scientific Search (2020). During his 15+ years as a music journalist, Erik has written hundreds of articles for Music in Minnesota, Something Else Reviews, his own blog Rambling On, and more. In addition to continuing his music career, Erik currently runs The Cosmic American, a music journalism website, and is the editor of Music in Minnesota.


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