Pop Smoke was an up-and-coming rapper with the promise of a great future stretching out before him. Yet, his life would be cut short at the age of just 20.
But how did he die? What led up to his death, and who was responsible?
We are perhaps so used to the idea of different rappers being killed, and often by being shot. Yet, we also tend to believe it is all related to something they have said in a song, resulting in another individual feeling attacked somehow.
Due to that, it’s no surprise that people believed that this would have to be the case in this instance. Yet, when you look at the story behind what happened, then it turns into the perfect example of how you cannot automatically presume that you know what will happen on every single occasion.
How He Died
Pop Smoke was shot dead in what police referred to as a home invasion. It involved five individuals making their way to the home and shooting the rapper dead.
Yet, with any story along these lines, there’s a lot more to the story than you initially expected. After all, it’s rare for someone to simply be gunned down in their home without some sort of reason behind it.
However, it seems that this was apparently the case here.
But this still opens up several questions. Did they go there because they knew Pop Smoke was living there? Was it a case of them thinking the house was empty and being surprised when he appeared?
Sadly, Pop Smoke and his close friend Mike Dee were the architects of the downfall of Pop Smoke. A series of social media posts made from the driveway of the home he was renting would eventually result in the death of Pop Smoke.
A Robbery Gone Wrong
At the time, Pop Smoke was renting a house in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles for the four days he was planning on spending there. The home was owned by a member of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Teddi Mellencamp. The date was February 19, 2020, and it’s evident that Pop Smoke would not have had a care in the world at this time as his career was taking off.
He appeared to be having a party in the night. By the time of the early hours of February 19, a total of three people were left in the house: Pop Smoke, Michael Durodola, and a woman by the name of Amelia Rose, who he had met only earlier that evening.
But that party atmosphere would come crashing down in a matter of minutes.
At around 4:00 am, five men appeared at the house in an attempt to rob it of its contents. It’s not really known if they were aware people were in the place or if they thought it would be sitting vacant at the time.
What we do know is that Pop Smoke was either in the shower or at least had the shower running when a man appeared in the house. One of the men, who was wearing a ski mask, had a handgun in his possession which would then turn into the murder weapon.
At first, the men held the gun to the head of a woman who was also in the house. They stated they would kill her but then turned their attention to Pop Smoke instead.
The woman in question stated how she heard a fight break out between them, followed by several shots. The LAPD were called, and Pop Smoke was rushed to the hospital. He was pronounced dead a few hours later.
His death came even though Durodola attempted CPR until the police arrived, and he was taken away.
But was it a Random Robbery?
We said at the outset that it’s rare for people to be killed for no reason whatsoever, and Internet sleuths have worked to determine exactly what happened.
The main focus is on a series of social media posts that Pop Smoke made just a few hours earlier. It seems he was flaunting his money and wealth with one of his friends, but in one of the images, the address he was staying at was clearly visible. The image would remain online for a short period of time only as his management team noticed it and alerted Pop Smoke to the post. However, it was already too late due to events that would transpire later.
Many believe that a gang came across the details and decided to rob him that night. This is certainly plausible, and the police arrested five individuals a few days later.
But footage from security cameras managed to show something of interest. A couple of hours before the shooting, a black BMW was spotted cruising in the area. It stopped at the address where Pop Smoke was staying, and an individual jumped out.
According to the footage, the individuals went to the rear of the property and returned a minute later. The car then took off.
A couple of hours later, another car would appear; an Infiniti sedan, complete with its headlights turned off. The same camera would capture individuals getting out of the vehicle and making their way to the building.
One of the gang of five was 15 years old, and in 2021 he allegedly confessed to a cellmate everything that happened. In the confession, the teenager stated that Pop Smoke had initially appeared as if he was going to go along with their demands. Their focus was a Rolex watch, and Pop Smoke was made to hand it over.
According to the teenager, Pop Smoke suddenly tried to fight back, and he shot and killed Pop Smoke in the fight. They then took the Rolex watch with them and sold it the following day for $2000.
Tracking Down a Gang
The security camera footage we mentioned earlier would prove influential when it came to arresting several suspects. The number for the black BMW was partly visible, leading detectives to an individual by the name of Corey Walker. Not only that, but his name was also linked to the Infiniti sedan that pulled up later on.
A warrant was then passed by a judge that allowed detectives to investigate a Google account held by Corey Walker. When they did, they came across a series of searches that piqued their interest.
On his Google account, Walker had searched online for the house’s address and then checked out the website for the LAPD. That search took place before 3am on the night Pop Smoke was shot dead.
But that wasn’t all.
A mere hour after Pop Smoke was shot, another search was carried out on the same account. This time, the search focused on the type of Rolex that had been stolen from Pop Smoke during the home invasion. By 8:00 am, another search was carried out for all the latest breaking news in LA on the same account.
But that was not the entire sum of the evidence.
After searching his phone records, they came across another individual, Sean Hansen. They tracked the phone movements of both individuals culminating in them both being in the area of the address at the time this was all going down.
Yet, this was only part of one story connected to this particular robbery. A number of other players were involved, which ultimately led to the death of the rapper.
The problem with the story of how Pop Smoke died is not that he was shot but rather the confusion that exists surrounding the reasons behind it. Yes, a teenager confessed to shooting him to his cellmate, but certain evidence questions several things.
First, some reports state that five individuals entered the property. However, TMZ had footage that showed four individuals turning up at the residence. The four individuals went to the rear of the house, but only three of them came back to the front.
That appears to indicate that only one individual, the one with the handgun, entered the home. Eventually, the fourth individual emerged from the front door, meaning he was able to enter the property from the rear. During that time, shots were fired inside the house.
But while that all sounds plausible, most of the items you would expect to be stolen in a home invasion were left behind. Only a few items were taken, with several expensive items left there. For some, that made no sense at all.
Yet, others feel the items were left behind because of the shots that were fired. That alone would have spooked the intruders leading to them wanting to leave the area ASAP. In other words, that act would explain why they perhaps didn’t complete the job.
The Gang Theory
At one point, it’s worth noting that this killing was investigated as a potential gang-related incident. Pop Smoke was a member of the Crips gang, and some investigators believe he was targeted at the address after letting the address be shown on his Instagram.
Yet even though he was apparently affiliated with an East Coast gang, no evidence came to light that a gang from the east had followed him to Los Angeles. For most, that idea quickly fell apart.
This “theory” was simply a case of trying to make up a story that sounded cool and different from the reality. Also, Walker stated that he was a member of the Hoover Criminals, a street gang from Los Angeles. This statement in a tapped conversation also helped spur the theory that it was gang-related.
Yet police never found any evidence to point to anything other than a planned robbery. When you look at how everything transpired, along with confessions that were taped when the individuals were not aware of the police listening, then this wasn’t even a random robbery.
The Honest Answer – The Instagram Post Caused it
Even though there was some apparent confusion, the confession of the teenager did allow investigators to come to a conclusion as to what happened. They already had the footage and knew a couple of individuals were involved, but up until this jail cell conversation, they had no hard evidence.
It turns out that the 15-year-old and another teenager saw the Instagram post that contained the address. At that moment, they hatched a plan to go and rob the rapper and get a gang together.
Six months after this confession in 2021, police arrested Walker, who fell into the same trap of admitting what had happened when people were dropping in on his jail cell conversations. During that conversation, he told another inmate how he had turned up in his car with another individual who scoped out the place. Their intention was to rob them at that point, but the individual returned, stating too many people were in the house.
Walker returned in a different car with “four youngsters” who would carry out the robbery. Upon arriving, they moved to the rear of the building, where they realized the house contained two men and a woman. They felt they had enough numbers to overpower the individuals inside, so they decided to go ahead with the robbery.
Walker himself did not enter the house. Instead, he allowed the younger individuals to do the job for him. Once they returned to the car, with only the Rolex, the gang sped off and drove to South Los Angeles.
Murder was Not Intended
But one clear thing is that the gang had no intention of going there to kill Pop Smoke, even though they knew he was there. After all, they only went to that particular house because of those Instagram posts that showed the address.
The gang had only intended to steal his watch and a thick gold chain that had been on display in images posted online. They didn’t expect him to put up a fight, and they, first of all, pistol-whipped him before the 15-year-old stated that he shot him in the back three times.
Also, Walker had armed two of the teenagers with his own guns. He stated in his cell confession that he had told the teenagers not to use the weapons and that they were merely there to scare the individuals into handing over the items.
He hoped that this confession would save him from the more severe charges surrounding the death of Pop Smoke. This was a plan that didn’t work.
As a result, the individuals who killed Pop Smoke would be charged as a kid, while Walker, who was 19 at the time, would be tried as an adult. Even though he never left the car, he will still face the harshest sentence simply because of his age.
Pop Smoke was born Bashar Barakah Jackson and brought up in Brooklyn. He started his music career as a teenager with his debut single, MPR, but would then achieve additional success with the single Welcome to the Party in 2019.
Even though he was young, he already had some run-ins with the police. In 2019, he was accused of stealing a Rolls Royce Wraith, which was valued at some $375,000. He claimed he was using it for a video shoot and would return it the next day. However, the car had been moved from California to outside the house where his mother lived in Brooklyn.
As a result, he was brought to the attention of the police, who questioned him about the Crips gang in New York. After this, he posted bond and was allowed to walk out as long as he stayed away from gang members. Not an easy task when gang members would turn up to his concerts.
But through it all, there was no doubt Pop Smoke had talent when it came to music. He could have easily gone on to have a stellar career and become one of the biggest stars out there. Yet that is something that will always remain just a possibility. There is not even a massive cache of songs that were never released.
And that’s the story of how Pop Smoke died. He appears to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a home invasion went horrifically wrong, resulting in his death. This was something that could have been so easily avoided, and yet it led to the death of a 20-year-old rapper with the world at his feet.
Unfortunately, his death has led to a number of different theories and conspiracies coming out, but that appears to now be the norm when it comes to a celebrity being killed in any manner. In that sense, Pop Smoke is no different from those who have had their time on this planet cut tragically short at the hands of others.
The truth is that there should be no theories or conspiracies connected to his death. A gang robbed him and shot him in the process. There really is nothing more to it than that.
Barry has worked as a freelance writer for over a decade and has developed an eye for detail when it comes to unearthing cool and interesting facts.
His love of music stems from his student days checking out up and coming bands playing in the darkest corners of bars and clubs in Edinburgh.
The love of uncovering something new also remains with him. With an appreciation for music that’s best described as eclectic, his musical tastes range from Eric Clapton to Eminem through to Snow Patrol and Incubus. The memories that music can bring back to the fore is something he tries to portray in his writing.
For him, the voyage of discovery and unearthing something new is what makes this task of writing for MusicGrotto.com so interesting.