Just north of 500 days have passed since the world lost Pop Smoke. Much has happened in that period of time — including two strong posthumous releases from the rapper’s estate, with Shoot For the Stars, Aim For the Moon coming through in mid 2020, which has been followed in short order by this newest record, his posthumous sophomore album, Faith. As was the case for Shoot For the Moon, Faith’s release comes within a week of what would have been Pop Smoke’s 22nd birthday. Coming in at a hair under an hour in length, the record is composed of 20 tracks, six of which are solo, the others bolstered by a slew of A-list features.
Oft is the case where posthumous albums miss the mark in regard to authenticity, but Smoke seems to have had lots of material in the bank when he passed. Most of the record sounds like Pop Smoke, which is comforting. Smoke’s thunderous voice rings true throughout, which is something the world surely needs right now. Instead of propping the album up, the features complement vocal tracks that appear to have been complete upon Smoke’s passing.
The first notable feature comes in the form of Kanye West on “Tell the Vision,” which is said to be originally slated to appear on West’s much delayed, yet to be released album DONDA. The track also features Pusha T, who is in fine rapping form, touching on topics of fame, getting to “the top” and how life changes in the process. Pusha claims Faith will overtake Tyler, The Creator’s CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST as album of the year, “Tyler got the album of the year, for now / But Pop about to drop, I see the platinum in the clouds.”
Pusha T returns on track seven, “Top Shotta,” which is the most crowded song on Faith, brandishing the talents of four featured artists: The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), Travi, and BEAM. The track swaddles the voices with a bouncing Caribbean beat, featuring steel drums.
“Woo Baby” featuring Chris Brown is a definite highlight, as Brown’s signature high falsetto contrasts Smoke’s husky deep tracking deliciously in a combo that we didn’t know we needed. The pair sing of women and the thoughts they garner from their presence.
Dua Lipa’s appearance is puzzling in that the track, titled “Demeanor,” appears to be struggling with its genre, whether it wants to be a Pop Smoke song or a Dua Lipa song. Like a seamless rap battle, the beat switches between the generic pop Lipa has been successful with in recent years to deeper, more complex vibes that lean toward Smoke’s wheelhouse. Nonetheless, Lipa is complementary to Smoke, singing “You can’t say pop without smoke” — a play on a previous Pop Smoke lyric.
Themes in the album touch on basketball and pop culture references, with vocal chops of Pop Smoke being mixed and matched from different songs to patch the album together. Overall, Smoke’s team took on the task of piecing together what they figured would have been his vision. While the album bends from Smoke’s chosen genre of drill rap, but that makes sense as each song was produced by the featured artists.
By the numbers, Faith’s opening day best streaming performance went to “Tell the Vision,” which garnered 2.6 million listens on Spotify. Overall, Faith racked up over 31 million streams in it’s first day, averaging over 1.5 million streams per track.