Rapper Pop Smoke fatally shot in Hollywood Hills home invasion

The Brooklyn-born artist, whose real name was Bashar Jackson, was 20.
Image: Pop Smoke
Rapper Pop Smoke performs during the second day of the Rolling Loud Festival at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on Dec. 15, 2019.Scott Dudelson / Getty Images file

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By Elisha Fieldstadt and Andrew Blankstein

Rapper Pop Smoke was fatally shot Wednesday morning during a home invasion in Los Angeles' Hollywood Hills, multiple sources told NBC News.

The Brooklyn-born artist, whose real name was Bashar Jackson, was 20.

His death is considered a homicide, although investigators did not immediately determine a motive, whether he was targeted or whether it was a crime of opportunity, law enforcement sources said.

Two to six people entered the Hollywood Hills home on Hercules Drive, and one of them was wearing a mask, Los Angeles police Capt. Steven Lurie told reporters.

Police received a call at 4:55 a.m. from someone on the East Coast who said a friend inside the home had contacted them saying that multiple people had broken into the home and that one had a handgun.

One person in the home was shot and taken to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead "hours later," Lurie said.

Several people who were inside the home were detained by police and released, Lurie said. No one has been arrested. Witnesses were still being interviewed by homicide detectives early Wednesday.

Lurie said it was unclear who owns the home and whether the invasion was targeted.

Public property records connect "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Teddi Mellencamp, who is musician John Mellencamp's daughter, to the property.

She made a statement on Instagram confirming a shooting at a rental property.

"Early this am we were informed by a 3rd party leasing and management company overseeing a rental home we own in Los Angeles that a shooting had taken place at the property," Mellencamp wrote. "Foremost, we would like to extend our prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones affected by this tragic loss of life."

Jackson released his breakout hit, "Welcome to the Party," in April. Nicky Minaj remixed the song, which was originally a part of Jackson's debut mixtape, "Meet the Woo."

Minaj posted a tribute to Jackson on Instagram on Wednesday morning.

50 Cent also mourned the rapper.

In December, Jackson collaborated with JackBoys and Travis Scott on "Gatti."

"We was in the lab last night comparing Pop Smoke to 50 when he came out. #RIP," rapper Freddie Gibbs tweeted.

"Damn. The future was bright for Pop Smoke. This is tragic. Brooklyn is in mourning right now," rapper Talib Kweli echoed on Instagram.

In September, Jackson was profiled in a New York Times article that ran with the headline "The Rapid Rise of Pop Smoke, Brooklyn Rap's Homecoming King."

"As a rapper, Pop Smoke metes out verses in tight clusters while still sounding relaxed, as if untroubled by the battles he knows are just around the corner," the article said. "It's a callback to the likes of DMX and M.O.P., or the early days of 50 Cent and G-Unit."

"The way he attacks the track is definitely those type of guys," D.J. Funkmaster Flex was quoted saying in the piece. "I love his energy, his vibe, his song."

Jackson, the son of Panamanian and Jamaican parents, told Genius that "Pop Smoke" was born of a combination of "Papa," which his Panamanian grandma used call him, and "Smoke Oh Guap," a nickname his friends gave him.

Jackson had a criminal record including at least eight arrests in New York dating to 2017, according to New York police.

The rapper has been described as a gang member in court documents, but it's not clear what, if any, role those previous ties played in his killing, law enforcement sources said.

In one case, court documents described Jackson as a member of the 823 G Strong Crips street gang.

Jackson ran into a legal problem in January when he was accused of transporting a stolen Rolls-Royce across state lines. Jackson and the owner of the car had made a verbal agreement in Los Angeles that Jackson could use the car in a coming music video in exchange for the owner's getting special treatment at a Pop Smoke concert.

Jackson was supposed to return the car after the video shoot, but the owner tracked the car by GPS to Arizona and said a photo of Jackson and the car in New York had been posted to social media. That's when the owner reported the luxury car stolen.

Other cases since 2018 have included arrests on allegations of shoplifting, weapons possession and various drug offenses.

Earlier this month, Jackson dropped his second mixtape, "Meet the Woo V.2." It debuted at No. 7 on the Top 200 chart, Billboard tweeted Tuesday.

Jackson's attorney told NBC News he did not have a comment "at this time relating to the events of this morning."

The rapper had retweeted a fan less than an hour before his death.

"I am so distraught right now. May he rest in power," the fan tweeted Wednesday morning. "I can't stop crying."

Jonathan Dienst and Eric Leonard contributed.