The following is a detailed account of 24 hours in the life of Pop Smoke on Jan. 17, 2020. It includes quotes from interviews in Complex and Spotify’s new podcast series, ‘Complex Subject: Pop Smoke,’ which debuted today. For more stories like this one, you can listen to the full podcast series on Spotify here.


To be a rapper is to be both beloved and targeted. For Pop Smoke, both happened in the same 24 hours in January 2020.

The 20-year-old artist, who died a month later, was riding high after being personally invited to Paris Fashion Week by esteemed designer Virgil Abloh.

“I remember we were in Paris and we were driving to the airport early in the morning after being out all night,” recalls Victor Victor general manager and close confidant Shivam “Shiv” Pandya. “He was tired, but he was just like, ‘Man, I love Paris. It’s beautiful.’”

Pop spent his final night in Paris sitting as a front-row guest at Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton fashion show before shooting the “Shake the Room” music video in a ritzy Parisian restaurant with Quavo. He was already a New York City hero, but his trip across the pond was a star-making moment that helped legitimize his international appeal.

Life was good. But it wasn’t all good. On Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, Pop was living it up in Paris, cruising through the city in a Ferrari Pista. But by Friday, Jan. 17, he was in New York federal court, facing 10 years on a charge of transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines.  

His December 2019 case for possessing a stolen Rolls-Royce had gone federal, as law enforcement sought to pressure him into giving them information about a June 2019 shooting as well as the 823 Crips, a gang that was namechecked by the prosecutor during his federal arraignment. News of the arrest caused already-cautious runners of the annual Yams Day concert to tell his team he wouldn’t be allowed to perform at the Barclays Center. Pop devised plans with ASAP Bari to sneak in, but was turned away at the door, left to reflect on the whirlwind of the past 24 hours.