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Faith by Pop Smoke

Pop Smoke

Faith

Release Date: Jul 16, 2021

Genre(s): Rap

Record label: Republic

60

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Faith

Fairly Good, Based on 4 Critics

The Line of Best Fit - 90
Based on rating 9/10

Whereas Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, the rapper's official studio debut, served as a larger-than-life celebration and eulogy for the fallen star, Faith adopts a different tack: trading its preceding record's anthemic, braggadocios sheen with a more introspective outlook on the nature and permanence of stardom. Set against a score of lurching synths, choral flourishes and interspersed spoken testimonials, the Kanye West and Pusha T-assisted "Tell the Vision" sees Pop Smoke reminisce about his early-life in Brooklyn whilst going bar-to-bar with some of hip hop's greatest: "Look, I remember the days, same fit for a week / I used to eat fifty-cent cake, now, it's Phillipe's". Elsewhere, on "Back Door", the rapper extrapolates a piece of maternal advice into a meditation on the urban New York experience: "My mama tell me "Be careful, better stay out of them projects / Better watch for them haters, you never know who be watchin'.

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Exclaim - 50
Based on rating 5/10

The posthumous album has sadly been a staple in hip-hop for years, occasionally resulting in legacy-cementing projects like J Dilla's immaculate Donuts and 2Pac's commercially successful R U Still Down? (Remember Me). Following these releases, however, those artists' discographies unfortunately dovetailed into a plethora of rehashed and rushed releases to bank on nostalgia. Similar scenarios have threatened to play out in rap's current era -- acclaimed posthumous projects from the likes of Mac Miller and Juice WRLD have been followed by the dubious promise of more material to come thereafter. The case of New York rapper Pop Smoke is no different.

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Pitchfork - 38
Based on rating 3.8/10

Pop Smoke's co-managers Steven Victor and Rico Beats, along with the corner office executives at Republic Records, are hopeful that they can upload Pop Smoke's second posthumous album, Faith, to streaming platforms so that everyone will mindlessly slip it into their rotations and playlists for the rest of the year. They'll desperately try to placate skeptical fans: This album will keep Pop's legacy alive! Hey, the intro includes a spiritual speech from his mother! It all feels like an attempt to manipulate us into believing that an argument against Faith is an argument against the wishes of his fans and family--so that the powers-that-be can sit back and line their pockets with the bucks they leeched from Pop Smoke's legacy. It's not to say that making a profit wasn't a goal of Pop Smoke's music or that money-making isn't one of the inherent purposes of posthumous albums, but it should also seek to preserve the spirit of the artist's music.

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Clash Music
Opinion: Excellent

Pop Smoke's loss is all the more affecting for what he leaves behind. A talent in ascendance, his sudden, shocking death came at an appallingly early age, cutting him down before he had a chance to truly unpack his gifts. Debut album 'Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon' arrived last year, testament both to his lyrical ability, and his broader standing within hip-hop culture.

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