Rising Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke has had a whirlwind, career-making year these past 12 months. If the kind of traction his single “Welcome to the Party” is getting is any real indication, the next year will be even crazier.

Watch: Pop Smoke chats with Rolling Stone

Most will know Smoke from his standout performance on Travis Scott compilation EP JACKBOYS, so before his star burns any brighter, the emcee sat down with Rolling Stone to chat what’s come before, and what’s still to come.

From Gospel singing to snub-nosed hip-hop, Pop tells of the first time he ever wrote a song being at the young age of around eight years old. “[It was] some gospel shit,” he smiles. “I sang that shit in front of everybody, the whole congregation … now, look, I’m a gangster.”

Pop Smoke also discusses recent star-struck moments – meeting 50 Cent and Off-White founder-designer Virgil Abloh, to name just two – as well as his writing process for his new mixtape, Meet the Woo, Vol. 2.

“I never wrote [down] anything,” he says. “It’s all up in my head. Everything that I be writing, everything that I be saying, when it comes to these types of songs, just be so natural. Just how I be feeling. However, some songs I do write, and you’ll know the ones that I write, ‘cause you’ll feel it … I used to write poetry and all that crazy shit. Spoken word.”

Pop Smoke’s come-up is, for now, most closely associated with Scott and the song “Gatti”. The 20-year-old rapper describes the first time meeting the superstar, at Travis’ festival in Houston, Astroworld. “That was crazy, too. They gave me my own bottle, mad merch – different.”

With Smoke’s career still in such an early stage, the connections he is making in the industry as well as the buzz surrounding his distinctive New York drill style and gruff, bellowing voice, is bound to make international noise this year.

Love Hip Hop?

Get the latest Hip Hop news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine