Eddie Huang remembers late rapper and 'Boogie' star Pop Smoke: 'He wasn't scared of anything'

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Pop Smoke's blossoming career was cut tragically short on Feb. 19, 2020, when the 20-year-old rapper was shot and killed during a home invasion and attempted robbery at a house he was renting in the Hollywood Hills.

Just months before he was killed, the Brooklyn-bred hip-hop star born Bashar Jackson had finished shooting his first movie. That film, Boogie, the directorial debut of Eddie Huang, is now dedicated to Jackson as it hits theaters this weekend. The coming-of-age story follows a Chinese-American high school basketball star in New York (Taylor Takahashi's titular baller) as he grapples with high expectations and heavy family drama, with Jackson co-starring as Boogie's cross-city rival Monk.

"At first I made this film and I was like, 'Look, this is for my family and this is to represent for all of us overseas Chinese in America,' but this is Pop's film," Huang, the famed restaurateur whose life inspired the hit sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, tells Yahoo Entertainment in a new interview (watch above). "It's absolutely dedicated to Pop. I really miss my brother. Once I met him, the film changed."

Pop Smoke and Eddie Huang on the set of
Pop Smoke and Eddie Huang on the set of Boogie. (Photo: Nicole Rivelli/Focus Features)

Among the biggest changes: Huang tweaked the soundtrack from what he originally intended to envelope the ‘90s "Golden Era" hip-hop sound (centered around Raekwon's seminal 1995 album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx) and instead styled it around the more contemporary "Brooklyn drill" sound that Pop Smoke had popularized.

"He [had] no fear, Pop [wasn't] scared of anything," Huang says in recalling his impression of Jackson. “He also probably had the fastest computer processor in his head I've ever seen. I could tell Pop something, and he would immediately adapt and make that change. And he didn't have an ego about it, and he wouldn't get scared about it. And he wouldn't have self-doubt about it. He just did it.

"But I will tell you this. Pop's not a dude that would've wanted you to be sad. He really [was] a person who was celebrating life all of the time. So happy, very sensitive. Amazing to be around. And a lotta love. He got a lotta love."

Boogie opens in theaters March 5.

Watch the trailer:

— Video produced by Jon San and edited by John Santo

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