The first clue to the fact that Pops Jr. is unlike your regular street rapper, is when he says: “I’m more James Brown than Jay-Z”. He states that even though he grew up in the nineties, many of his huge influences comes by way of soul artistes from the 70s. At the age of 5 years old his father “Pop Heavenly” aka POPS put him and his 4 older brothers in a rap group called the Heavenly Boyz. The group traveled coast to coast performing wherever their Pops could get a gig. No matter how much he steered his boys right the baby of the family had different plans. At 16 Pops Jr. caught a murder case. “I was young and aggressive which led me to take a life early” says Pops Jr. His intent was only to rob but his aggression took it too far. “That’s when it all changed” says Pops Jr. He thought his rap dreams were over. But prison ended up giving him the strength he needed. He did 11 years straight and was released at 27 with an insane passion.
He changed his name to Pops Jr in honor of his father POPS. “My dad’s legacy being honored means the world to me” says Pops Jr. “I stopped trying to be the best rapper once Eminem got as good as he did” says Pops. He no longer wanted to focus on each word, but rather set his sights on how the words translated across to the listener.
On July the 3rd Pops Jr. unveils his latest album, “New Bag”, to the world. On first listen, the early thought that jumped to mind was that I hoped Pops Jr. was not going to become another one of rap’s most underrated artists. Can you blame me? The man’s an original, overachieving rap craftsman.
Being immensely talented yet overlooked can fuel frustration and angst in most artists. Listening to “New Bag”, I did not perceive any of those sentiments. Pops Jr. comes to the game officially, as a fully grown man, so he is preaching from a different pulpit. His been there, done that. He doesn’t just have questions, he also supplies the answers in his songs.
Much of this has to do with his life experiences and his passionate battle with the naysayers – about the will to stand on your feet when everybody is trying to knock you down. The project is even made sweeter by the fact that Pops Jr. took care of everything – from the beats, to the lyrics and the engineering.
Fifteen tracks deep, “New Bag” is huge in scope, ambitious, and easily one of the best independent rap albums of 2019. From the moment the album opens with “Gthfu”, Pops Jr.’s messages are coupled by gut-wrenching, stream-of-consciousness accounts – from injustices to insecurities and defiance, as well as redemption and ambition, giving insight into the artist’s mindset.
“New Bag” is full of soon-to-be certified classic underground tracks, like the cinematic “Causinaproblem” and “Drawlsdown”; the soulful slow burning “Holdon”, “Whatibeon” and “Wait4it”.
Depending on your taste, there is a wealth of standouts on “New Bag”. Not least the dark and dramatic “Takeadeepbreath”; the sing-song groove of “Pushthru”; or the album’s first single, “Nevahate”. A true storytelling rapper and music-maker, Pops Jr. aligns the stars on “New Bag”, as a testament to his craft. Never a stranger to introspection and reflectiveness, the rapper harnesses all the energy both good and bad from his experiences, on this album.
As an artist who prides himself on being meticulous in his approach to crafting music, it’s an understatement to say that the bar has been set incredibly high here. No doubt, “New Bag” heralds yet another proud release from the O.M.G Entertainment Inc., label.