A Canarsie artist who recently completed a mural of George Floyd is now painting a mural in honor of the late rapper and Canarsie native Pop Smoke.
Kenny Altidor, 42, says he’s completing the eight-foot-tall painting, located on E. 80th Street and Flatlands Avenue, to honor the acclaimed musician and call on the community to end gang violence.
“It shouldn’t matter if you are Crips or Bloods. This should be a peaceful community,” said Altidor, who lives nearby with his wife, Mildred, and two children, Milken, 9, and Milkaylah, 7. “We shouldn’t be hurting each other.”
Pop Smoke, born Bashar Jackson, rose to fame in 2019 with his hit song “Welcome to the Party,” which swept the streets of Brooklyn and won praise from rap icons including Nicki Minaj and 50 Cent. His recent posthumous album, “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon,” features hip-hop giants including Young Thug and Jamie Foxx and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
In February, the rapper was killed after four masked robbers broke into his California rental house and shot him twice. Jackson was affiliated with the 823 G Stone Crips, but police did not cite his gang involvement as a suspected reason for the killing. Five suspects were arrested for the murder on July 9.
Altidor said that members of the Canarsie community — where Jackson was born and lived at the time of his death — asked him to paint the mural as a tribute to the beloved rapper.
“People here asked me to paint his mural. They loved the guy and so I’m just giving back to the community,” Altidor said. “My message in painting and paying tribute to him is a message of peace, love and unity among African Americans.”
Altidor has also completed murals of other celebrated locals, including slain police officers Brian Mulkeen, Detective Brian Simonsen, Brian Moore — as well as Firefighter Steven Pollard, who fell from a Belt Parkway bridge while responding to a crash. He paints all the murals free of charge with paints donated by supporters, he said.
In Pop Smoke’s mural, which stretches eight feet high and stands beside a mural of George Floyd, Altidor hopes to communicate that the gun violence that has plagued the Canarsie community in recent weeks must end.
“His song, music – everyone loves his songs and so we want to honor him, but at the same time, the message needs to be you don’t have to commit violence or advance something on his behalf,” Altidor said. “I don’t think that’s what his mom or family would want.”
This story first appeared on AMNY.com.