There has been something notably unsettling about Lil Pump’s rise. Maybe it’s record label vultures watching with glee as seventeen-year-old Pump cuts into his Xanax birthday cake, his constant attempts to have sex with Miranda Cosgrove, and his eerily well-manufactured meme status culminating in teenage Garcia’s supposed Harvard commencement speech, which he alleges he dropped out of to “save the rap game.” Regardless, the Miami rapper’s larger- than-life personality aside, there was genuine potential to be gleaned from his debut mixtape.
Pump’s grimy production and lo-fi vocals were endearing in their shabbiness, a middle finger to conventional hip-hop that defined the exciting Florida rap scene he championed. Unfortunately, on Harverd Dropout (a deliberate misspelling to avoid legal action) the rapper’s personality seems exclusively confined to marketing.
What made Lil Pump’s meme originally funny was that the music he was producing was genuinely enjoyable. This follow-up renders Pump essentially a parody of himself; the class clown that’s trying too hard. These struggles of the transition from excellent debut mixtape to commercial debut are well- documented and it should be noted that Harverd Dropout is not quite as much of a flop as its contemporaries (see Lil Yachty’s or XXXtentacion’s debuts). What can be said about Pump’s transition, however, is that it smacked of inevitability. The endearing edginess of the self-titled mixtape could not possibly translate to a commercial setting, where each EDM-tinged beat sounds like an underpaid in-house producer made it on their coffee break.
That’s not to say the album isn’t without its highlights. Pump and significantly more talented cousin Smokepurpp make magic happen on ‘ION’, or an in-form Lil Wayne passing on the torch on pop-rap banger ‘Be Like Me’, with prior singles ‘Multi-Millionaire’ and ‘Eskeetit’ let the album end on a relative high.
The problem is too many songs on this sixteen-track gauntlet feel like an afterthought, where executives forced a xanned out teenager to slur ad-libs for two minutes. Harverd Dropout defines resting on your laurels.
It’s a shame to see Pump so quickly drop out of the scene he was integral in forming, but he’s probably too rich to care.
Image: Corey Motta via Unsplash