My dad once told me to be wary of posthumous albums. A lifelong musician, my dad had spent countless hours in the studio recording his own tracks. Although never as successful as the likes of the most popular musicians today, his adage rings true, especially with the release of Pop Smoke’s second posthumous album, Faith.
From his perspective back in the day, standard studio sessions were about eight hours. Everything was recorded, even if tracks were never completed, just to have it in the system in case a producer needed it. I’m not sure if some of the material used on Faith was meant to see the light of day except for the occasional leaks, such as “Woo Baby” that originally had Canadian rapper Tory Lanez on it.
To put it bluntly, calling this an album is disingenuous. It’s a clear cash grab filled with features to make up for the lack of genuine Pop Smoke material. A lot of phrases are repeated on a loop outside of the hook to just fill time on this album. There’s a legitimate reason why there’s a lack of material from the rapper who tragically passed away in the early months of 2020; his first posthumous album Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon was released five months after his death to mostly positive reviews.
Faith starts with “Good News”, which is a spoken word poem by Pop Smoke’s mother that lays out the intentions of the album. She defines the title of the album and the meaning of Pop Smoke’s given name (which is Bashar Jackson). She says that he’s bringing the good news, which is ultimately to have faith in yourself.
The next song, “More Time,” has the rapper deliver one of his most substantial verses, even though it interpolates his own verse on the platinum certified single from off Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, “Hello”. However, the song just comes in at a whopping two minutes long, which initiates a trend that continues as the album progresses, with the average length of a song being just three minutes. All songs that are over three minutes have a featured artist included on them.
Speaking of featured artists, the next six songs have at least one other artist on them with Pop Smoke. Some of those artists include Kanye West, Rick Ross, 21 Savage, 42 Dugg, and Pusha T, who takes an unnecessary shot at Tyler the Creator on “Tell The Vision.” On the other end of the spectrum, New York rapper Bizzy Banks delivers an outstanding verse on “30” that sounds like something that would be on Pop Smoke’s debut album, Meet The Woo. The features on Faith are somewhat of a mixed bag, with the previously mentioned Bizzy Banks fitting perfectly. Other songs like “8-Ball” with Kid Cudi are headscratchers considering the fruitful partnership between those two artists on “Show Out” from Cudi’s Man on the Moon 3.
Calling something an album often invokes the feelings of an artist practicing and perfecting their craft, but how much insight did Pop Smoke have over this album? It’s safer to call Faith a compilation album even if it was never given the official distinction. Leave the comparisons to other famous posthumous albums like Life After Death and Circles to the side – Pop Smoke has already had his moment, and what a moment it was.