Kanye West – Donda
Aug 29 2021 | Hip-Hop, Rap

Pop Smoke – Faith

Pop Smoke – Faith
Hip Hop
Release date
July 16 2021
Pop Smoke
Pop Smoke – Faith
July 16 2021 | Hip Hop

Faith is the second posthumous studio album by American rapper Pop Smoke. It was released through Victor Victor Worldwide and Republic Records on July 16, 2021, four days before what would have been the rapper’s 22nd birthday. It serves as the follow-up to Pop Smoke’s commercially and critically successful debut studio album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon (2020). The album features guest appearances from Kanye West, Pusha T, Rick Ross, The-Dream, 42 Dugg, 21 Savage, Takeoff, Lil Tjay, Swae Lee, Future, Chris Brown, Dua Lipa, Pharrell, Kid Cudi, Anuel AA, Quavo and Kodak Black, among others.

Faith was supported by its lead single, “Demeanor”. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the album performed well commercially, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200.

After American rapper Pop Smoke was shot and killed at the age of 20 during a home invasion, fellow American rapper 50 Cent decided to help finish the late rapper’s album Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon by serving as executive producer. After the album was released on July 3, 2020, it was a commercial success, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200, and spawning two US Billboard Hot 100 top-10 singles “For the Night” and “What You Know Bout Love”. The album helped Pop Smoke win Top Billboard 200 Album and Top Rap Album at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards.

On June 4, 2021, Pop Smoke’s manager, Steven Victor, announced that there would be a second posthumous project released by the rapper. Producer Rico Beats announced that Faith was “95% loading the fuck up” and also confirmed that he would be one of the producers on the album through a post on Instagram on June 15. The track “Tell the Vision” was initially intended for Kanye West’s album Donda.

Cover artwork
The cover art is an “intense”, close-up, black and white picture of Pop Smoke, the word “Faith” tattooed above his eye.

Release and promotion
On June 23, 2021, Steven Victor announced the album’s release date of July 16. A trailer video for Faith, which features Pop Smoke’s career highlights and a motivational short speech from him, was also released. A promotional single, “Outro”, the closing track of the album, debuted the same day. The album was also confirmed to have seventeen tracks. Initially, it was assumed that the album would be self-titled after Pop Smoke was the title of the album on Apple Music during its pre-order as a placeholder. Victor announced on July 11 that the album would be titled Faith. The following day, the cover art was revealed along with a promotional video. The track list was released on July 14, in what was considered an “unusual” way; it was revealed through an interactive website that allowed fans to scratch virtual lottery tickets to reveal the track titles.

“Demeanor” featuring English singer Dua Lipa, was serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio on July 20, 2021, as the album’s lead single, it peaked at number 86 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Critical reception
Faith was met with mixed reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from professional publications, the album received an average score of 53, based on nine reviews, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. Aggregator AnyDecentMusic? gave it 5.6 out of 10 based on their assessment of the critical consensus.

In a lukewarm review, Rolling Stone’s Mosi Reeves wrote, “Faith consists of audio files recombined by producers and record executives into something coherent, listenable, and at times even enjoyable, but not quite dazzling. Maybe it’s not an Anthony Bourdain doc constructed with artificial intelligence, but it still feels a bit weird”. Antoine-Samuel Mauffette Alavo of Exclaim! said, “Despite poor production choices and lazy song structures, Pop Smoke’s energy and solo spurts of brilliance won’t allow for this stale posthumous release to tarnish his legacy”. In a negative review, Pitchfork’s Alphonse Pierre stated, “Beyond stripping Pop of his personality, the most offensively bad [tracks] on Faith are the ones that have no shame in hiding their financial intentions”. David Crone of AllMusic said, “With friends and collaborators surgically removed, Faith is littered with jarring voices, avaricious creative decisions, and a fundamental sidelining of its visionary figurehead”.

Udit Mahalingan of The Line of Best Fit praised the album, stating, “Unlike the majority of [posthumous releases], Faith speaks to Pop Smoke’s perpetuity in hip-hop’s current context, serving as less of a lament of what could have been and more as a memorial for what was and still is”. Robin Murray from Clash enjoyed the album, saying, “Faith succeeds by offering not ony an elegiac portrait of Pop Smoke, but also a vision of what he could have become”.

Commercial performance
Faith debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, earning 88,000 album-equivalent units (including 4,000 copies as traditional album sales) in its first week. The album also accumulated a total of 113.34 million on-demand streams of the album’s songs during that week.

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