The Harvard dropout*, Tupac ghostwriter, meme rapper extraordinaire has blessed us with his first full length project, appropriately titled Little Pump. Lil Pump is the Florida rapper who has made a name for himself off of his hit singles “D Rose” and “Gucci Gang” that first garnered attention on the popular streaming service, SoundCloud. Despite being predominantly used by amateur artists, SoundCloud is the first step for many in breaking into the mainstream and has given rise to many musicians who are now household names. Lil Pump is also another one of the Floridian rappers to rise to fame recently, following names such as Denzel Curry, Kodak Black, XXXTentacion, Ski Mask the Slump God, and Smokepurpp, who is featured on the mixtape multiple times. All of these rappers have gained a lot of attention recently, especially the first three who have been featured on hip-hop magazine “XXL’s” freshman class in the past two years.
Lil Pump is one of the most prominent meme rappers. Meme rappers are known for promoting their music and brand through internet culture and social media. He is best known for his abuse of Xanax (xans), his attraction to Miranda Cosgrove’s character “Carly” from the hit Nickelodeon show, iCarly, and of course his famous catchphrase, “Esketit!” (I think he’s supposed to be saying “Let’s get it”). By not taking himself too seriously, he gives himself some free promotion and resonates with a younger audience.
Truth be told, Lil Pump is not saying very much. Every track on the album is under two and a half minutes with the exception of songs that have features, (the longest of which is still only three minutes and 19 seconds). The album only reaches 35 minutes with 15 whole tracks. Every hook is very repetitive: Pump often finds himself restating the same line. In “Gucci Gang,” “D Rose”, and “Crazy,” this is very apparent, and in his verses, the content is always the same. Pump’s lyrics dance around the same three topics: women, drugs (selling or using), and his expensive taste in cars and clothing.
Despite the depth of lyrics that rival the poetry of Shakespeare, what draws people toward SoundCloud rappers like Lil Pump is the production supporting them. There has been a lot of debate over the amount of credit given to producers, and everyone who helped produce this album deserves a lot. Lil Pump boasts fun production from Big Head, TM88, Ronny J, and Mr. 2-17 to name a few. Over the fun beats, Lil Pump’s lack of lyricism becomes less apparent when you’re vibing along to the melodies.
The production also does a great job at accommodating the various features that Pump brings together for the project. Lil Yachty sounds at home and comes in with a fun verse on the tail end of “Back,” making it one of my favorite tracks off of the tape. Two Chainz delivers another typical verse on “Iced Out,” his bars about overloaded pockets and clever(ish) wordplay about a 12 gauge (“get it, a low gauge shotgun, a little pump”) mesh well with the rest of the album’s deep hidden meanings.
Lil Pump uses the production as a bit of a crutch, and that can come back to bite him. When it is good, Pump’s mindless lyrics blend into a fun trap song. On tracks where the production is more one-dimensional, such as “Gucci Gang,” you are left with a 17-year-old kid chanting “Gucci Gang” to himself twelve times in a row if you include ad-libs (yes…I counted). And when Pump himself tries his hand at producing a track, you end up with “D Rose,” a song consisting of overblown bass, poor recording quality, and a reference that’s doesn’t really hold up. There are plenty of players that ball out harder than Derrick Rose, but to quote Pump, “I just made that ‘D Rose’ song ‘cause it sounded fire. It sounded fire, so I was like, ‘I’m gonna lead with that sh*t.’ And that sh*t really started going crazy.” As you can see, he studied astrophysics at Harvard*, not English.
The memes bring up another question: how seriously do you take this project? Pump himself embraces the meme, even referencing Harvard on “Iced Out.” But does that take away from the music? Ugly God, another rapper, is well known for the less serious content of his songs such as “Beat My Meat,” “Face,” “Titties, Booty and Toes (FTBT),” and “Booty from a Distance.” But the Houston rapper has said he is moving away from the jokes, since people weren’t taking his music seriously. Will Lil Pump suffer the same fate? And can he afford to move away from the meme? Lil Pump doesn’t have the bars that Ugly God does. Worst case scenario, I’m sure Harvard* would love to have him come finish up his degree.
Overall, if you’re looking for the next To Pimp a Butterfly, you should look somewhere else. But if you’re a fan of Lil Pump or other SoundCloud rappers of the same vein, he stays consistent to previous work, and you should enjoy the project. If you’re skeptical like I was, there are definitely some fun tracks, and at only 35 minutes, it might be worth sifting through. Pump still hasn’t won me over yet, but he has impressed me with some catchy beats and great features. ESKETIT!
*DISCLAIMER: Lil Pump was expelled from high school in ninth grade. He has never stepped foot on Harvard’s campus, and for the sake of quality education, I hope he never will.