US rapper Pop Smoke, 20, shot and killed in home invasion

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

New York rapper Pop Smoke has been shot and killed in an apparent home invasion, according to multiple sources speaking to NBC and TMZ.

The rapper, real name Bashar Jackson, 20, was at home in Hollywood, Los Angeles, when two men wearing hoodies and masks entered the house and fired multiple shots, according to police sources quoted by TMZ. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in West Hollywood early on Wednesday.

The two men are apparently at large. Another man was briefly detained by police but released soon after.

On Tuesday, Jackson had posed for Instagram photos holding stacks of money in a luxury SUV outside a house in Los Angeles. He had located himself in the city earlier in the day on his Instagram stories. A friend had also posted photos of the pair together outside the house with an address number visible, leading to fears that the house was subsequently targeted in a robbery.

Jackson’s career was beginning to take off. By blending the sound of the UK and US drill scenes – often in collaboration with British producer 808Melo – with gruffly delivered lyrics, he was being talked about as one of the most promising young MCs in the US. Primarily based in New York, he collaborated with rappers including Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, Skepta and Quavo, and the video to his signature track Welcome to the Party has been viewed 23m times on YouTube.

Jackson was arrested in January after allegedly stealing a Rolls-Royce he had borrowed for a music video, transporting it across the country to New York. The prosecutor claimed he was affiliated with the Crips gang. He pleaded not guilty to the theft and was released on $250,000 bail and barred from having contact with gang members.

In October, he had been prevented from performing at the Rolling Loud music festival in Queens, with New York police contending he was “affiliated with recent acts of violence city-wide”, though without making charges.

Musicians paying tribute included Minaj, who wrote: “The Bible tells us that jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Unbelievable. Rest In Peace, Pop.” 50 Cent said: “RIP to my man Pop Smoke, No sympathy for winners. God bless him.” R&B singer Kehlani wrote that Jackson was “so fuckin nice … and talented!!!!!! … this so sad … what is happening.”

He is the latest in a spate of US rappers to be violently killed. XXXTentacion was killed aged 20 in June 2018 after he was robbed at a Florida motorcycle dealership. Nipsey Hussle, 33, was shot and killed in Los Angeles in March 2019. Other young and highly successful rappers, including Mac Miller, Lil Peep and Juice WRLD, have recently died from drug overdoses.