Had he not been murdered in February, today would have been ascendant Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke’s 21st birthday. Those managing his legacy have chosen the occasion to release a deluxe version of his posthumous debut album Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon featuring 15 previously unreleased tracks.
The original Shoot For The Stars was muddled and disappointing, not doing justice to the contagious, unmistakable presence that made Pop the worldwide ambassador for Brooklyn drill. The new tracks on the deluxe version suggest Pop’s handlers could have assembled something closer to the mixtapes that made him a breakout star, though on first listen it’s hard to say if the overall quality lives up to that legacy. There are also plenty of the hit-and-miss pop crossover attempts that bogged down the original album.
Lately, major rap releases have almost universally gotten deluxe editions not long after their initial release. Some of them, like Young Thug’s deluxe So Much Fun last year, have reshuffled the tracklist with a few new songs sprinkled in. Lil Uzi Vert’s deluxe Eternal Atake was essentially a whole second album, with an entirely new collection of songs — more of a companion piece than a deluxe version of the same LP, though weirdly it still counted toward Eternal Atake’s chart stats. The deluxe Shoot For The Stars is a sprawling 34-track set — first the original 19-song tracklist, then the 15 additional tracks — so if you want to hear the new material, skip ahead to track 20.
The deluxe-only songs include features from Young Thug, Burna Boy, Fivio Foreign, Davido, Gunna, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, King Combs, Queen Naija, Calboy, DAFI WOO, Dread Woo, and PnB Rock. Notably, “Paranoia,” the song that stoked hostility between Young Thug and Pusha T and was allegedly removed from the album at Drake’s request, is here, but without Pusha’s verse. Also, it includes Jamie Foxx singing COVID-era seductions that were obviously recorded after Pop’s death: “Look at your body/ Got my attention/ Quarantine ain’t a thing when the bill right/ Fuck social distancing.”
Stream the deluxe Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon below.