Aim for the Stars, Shoot for the Moon shows that the Woo will never die
Reviewed by Thomas Herron
Before this review gets started, REST IN POWER TO THE WOO.
The Brooklyn rapper’s posthumous album definitely benefited from an executive producer credit to Pop Smoke’s earliest comparison, 50 cent. Got It On Me covers 50 cent’s iconic Many Men and gives it Pop Smoke’s drill-hybrid treatment, doing one of the hardest ever mainstream songs true justice. There is however a tragic component to the song, ending with an acapella of The Woo singing, “I got it on me / You can run up if you want.”
The tragedy of the last line here and the simultaneous appeal it brings to the song is a testament to Pop Smoke’s universal steez and popularity. Taken far too young as his career soared, this posthumous album has an added layer of emotion for listeners that brings it beyond the sonics.
50 cent’s influence on the album is apparent, but as The Woo embraced their comparisons and often covered his tracks while recording, it couldn’t have been done better. Hotel Lobby, Pop Smoke’s take on Fifty’s If I Can’t is another standout as a tribute with a refreshing and innovative twist - the same creativity that defines the Brooklyn rapper’s career.
The Woo, the only track Fifty actually offered a vocal contribution on, switches up to mirror Candy Shop in an unexpected but beautifully executed fashion as The Woo opens with “Let me take you to the candy shop” to avoid any mistaking his intent.
Drawing features from some of the hottest artists out (Young Thug, Gunna, Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, A Boogie, Fivio Foreign and more), the industry really showed out to do Pop Smoke justice on Aim for the Stars, Shoot for the Moon.
There definitely was a questionable number of Quavo features included though fans could have likely lived with just one, and the fact that Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow were left off the album is an absolute travesty considering Pop Smoke’s lead role in bringing drill to the forefront of rap alongside the two.
As we will tragically never know what Pop Smoke’s true intentions were with this album, it seems like he was experimenting with his sound and growing his repertoire.
Songs like Something Special, Backseat and Paranoia show a new side of The Woo, effectively moving the intensity of his sound to a more melodic and personal feel while staying true to his roots with more drill-centric tracks such as 44 BullDog and Gangstas.
It’d be unfair to say that every track on a 34-song deluxe was perfect, but for a project with this many tracks to have so few true misses, if really any, is a testament to the artist Pop Smoke was and something 99.9% of any artist, regardless of genre, could never accomplish in their career. All 34 tracks are not only listenable but at their minimum they are quality, though some are tracks are better suited for listening alongside the entire project rather than alone.
With rumors swirling of some-400 unreleased tracks, this may not be the last Pop Smoke project we ever hear, but as the first taste listeners have been given since his death, Aim for the Stars, Shoot for the Moon delivered.
Though we will never get to see the Brooklyn rapper’s continued development, The Woo’s tragically short reign as the King of New York Hip Hop and at the very least, King of United States drill, awarded him with a fiercely loyal fan base and immense popularity that will keep him in the ears of hip hop heads for decades to come. As one of five artists to ever have a number one posthumous album, the Woo will never die.