I’m literally at work fighting back tears. One by one, my co-workers are finding out Bashar Barakah Jackson, aka Pop Smoke, was murdered in a home invasion in Hollywood Hills this morning. One co-worker immediately turned his music on. Others are completely unaware of who he was and simply curious because it’s making all of the headlines. Most don’t give a fuck, and part of me envies them.

I felt myself becoming more and more of a Pop Smoke fan as time went on. “Welcome To The Party” wasn’t my choice for song of the summer, but it was up there. What I enjoyed more was his full projects, his hustle, his hunger, and the fact he was making so much noise at 20-years-old. I’m always inspired by those younger than me who are doing well for themselves. Thus, it hurts that much more when they pass too soon.

I always subscribed to the reality that we have progressively become more desensitized to death due to the media. It’s thrown in our faces a lot more often these days. When I was young and outlets weren’t as copious, each death felt a lot more major. In the last decade, things have happened, we’ve mourned and had to move on.

That isn’t so easy for me these days. I wake up, see a headline, and fall immediately into a place of sadness. Each death since Mac Miller has only hurt more. Nipsey. Juice. Kobe. Now, Pop Smoke.

Success breeds envy. As far as I know, Pop did no one any wrong. All he did was provide us some phenomenal tunes to party to. He was literally on the cusp of his greatness. Making strong connections in the industry and keeping the foot on the gas.

Today, someone lost a family member, a loved one, a friend, a business partner or a favorite rapper. That’s what is most important. Their healing and ours. We’ve already got so many lingering wounds from other celebrity deaths and our own personal demons we deal with. This isn’t the time to be angry with TMZ. Can they be more responsible in doing their job by breaking news? Of course. But what does anger solve here?

This isn’t the time to be correcting people, pointing fingers or directing any negative energy anywhere. There are enough evil people in the world doing harmful things. This is when we as a culture should come together, place an arm around one another, and heal. However long it takes.

When the time is right, we should take a serious look at ourselves and evaluate what we can do to protect our own. I don’t know how much longer I can type RIP and see people close to me hurt by these experiences. It’s bigger than us, though. There aren’t enough prayers in the world that I can offer to his family.

Every time I go to the gym, I try to pick a different album to listen to but, of course, I’ve got some repeats. Pop Smoke’s two recent projects found their way into the repeat section. Now I don’t know if I’ll ever play anything else in the gym again. I’m caught in the moment but this hurts way more than I’d ever expected it to. Rest In Peace, king. Forever, the woo.

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