Bittersweet Brooklyn

After serving a six-year sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York, Bobby Shmurda was released from prison.

On Tuesday (Feb. 22), upon becoming a free man, Bobby received a warm welcome from friends and family members. Quavo picked him up in a private jet, his mother gloated during a FaceTime call, and those unable to attend celebrated his freedom, flooding social media with welcome home posts. The rapper’s anticipated release was a monumental moment to remember, which is understandable given the impact he made before gun, drug and gang conspiracy charges landed him in jail.

Credit: Flo Ngala/GQ

Shmurda, who was raised in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood, dropped a slew of records, but it was his most popular hit, “Hot Nigga,” that earned him mainstream success. The song peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2014, its accompanying video went viral and his Shmoney dance became an internet craze featured many times on Vine — the platform before TikTok became a thing — and the go-to move for those looking for an alternative to the traditional two-step.

The “Bobby Bitch” rapper also set himself apart from others with his signature sound effect and pose. In songs and multiple interviews, he’s heard uttering “ah ah ah”; a quick skim of his images shows him covering the bottom half of his face with the palm of his hand. 

Bobby’s success opened the doors for GS9 affiliate Rowdy Rebel to flourish, and together, they pioneered the Brooklyn drill movement — a wave that went on to birth the careers of Sheff G, Sleepy Hallow, Fivio Foriegn and most notably, Pop Smoke, who some would say even elevated the sound.

Credit: Flo Ngala/GQ

The Canarsie resident’s rise to fame was ironically comparable to Shmurda. “Welcome to the Party” was his “Hot Nigga,” the Woo Dance was his Shmoney dance, and “woo” was his “ah ah ah.” 

Additionally, much like the aftermath of Bobby’s video, Pop’s song blared through speakers during New York City summers, and clips of fans doing his “woo” dance took over social media feeds. Meanwhile, the hungry artist, hype off his success, took advantage of the moment, performing at packed venues and working with the likes of Quavo, Tyga and King Combs. Many hoped for a collaboration between Pop Smoke and Bobby, but when the “Dior” star hinted he had an unreleased song with Shmurda, it became evident that the physical interaction between Pop and Bobby — who would have simultaneously taken over Brooklyn’s drill scene, == — was also desired. Unfortunately, that link up will never see the light of day as Canarsie’s own was fatally shot in a home invasion while he stayed in Hollywood Hills to complete his debut project.

Shmurda’s prison release undoubtedly marks a great time in hip hop, a celebratory moment for Bobby fans, general music fans and the overall Brooklyn drill movement. As fans revel in the rapper’s newfound freedom and patiently await his return to music, a nagging thought looms over my mind: Pop Smoke should have been here.

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