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Meaning of the song ‘Hawk Em’ by ‘Pop Smoke’

Released: 2019

The track “Hawk Em” by Pop Smoke, the late drill rapper from Canarsie, Brooklyn, is a hard-hitting testament to the brute reality of street life. The song’s essence dwells in the raw ambience of violence mixed with a grim lifestyle, underscored by Pop’s gritty delivery and distinct sound.

Opening with shout-outs to his crew, Pop Smoke sets the stage with typical drill bravado. “Big .38 gon’ hawk ’em” sets the violent tone, the term “hawk” here references a .38 caliber gun waiting to strike like a hawk, a common metaphor in the drill scene. The mention of stripes and sauce stands for his street cred and flavor. He name-drops Team Larkin reinforcing his drill roots and his readiness to retaliate if provoked.

Pop Smoke references a TEC, shorthand for a TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, sharing the ruthless survival tactics on the street. When he spits “Hit him up if he Team Larkin”, it indicates a declaration of violent intent towards an enemy group. The line “I bet I send ’em to heaven” further emphasizes this reality of street life where violence can swiftly transition to mortality.

Pop’s “Blue dot, stalking” line reflects the tracking process of his enemies, often using GPS markers indicating a covert threat. The additional color codes; white and black “opps” resonate the racial diversity of his enemies or oppositions. This whole narrative affirms his dominance and control in the volatile situations he encounters, a staple theme in the drill sub-genre.

Further along, “Walk in, walk out”, intriguingly captures the transient and ruthless nature of street life, the term ‘shake up the room’ alluding to his powerful dominating presence. The repetitive use of ‘Louis V’ is an assertion of his expensive taste in fashion, contributing to his distinct persona.

His line “I bet he clap your kufi” is a direct threat to his enemies, as ‘clapping’ is street vernacular for shooting, and ‘kufi’ is a traditional Muslim cap worn by many in inner-city communities. It’s an explicit way of saying he’ll knock someone out.

Towards the end, he states he’s both a “gentleman and gangster” showing his multifaceted persona. His usage of “Big .38 gon’ hawk ’em” as a refrain continually reinforces the dangerous scenarios and violent tendencies. And in doing so, “Hawk Em” presents a darker side of the hip-hop landscape rooted in the harsh realities of street life.

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