Instinct is the voice of logic. From the gut, it rises as a whisper rooted in rational thinking. Upon first listen, the whisper told me Lil Pump’s 2017 single “Gucci Gang” was a lackluster Migos imitation bound to be another grain of sand lost on the saturated beach of rap releases. I’m no stranger to simplicity’s allure, and how brevity can create jingles sweet as caramel apples, but “Gucci Gang" tastes of medicine rather than candy.
To my surprise, the underwhelming single was well-received—at present, "Gucci Gang" is 4x Platinum-certified by the RIAA—and was the final boost needed to break Pump from SoundCloud notoriety to worldwide recognition.
Overlooking the power of catchiness is where I underestimated his appeal. What Lil Pump lacks in compelling lyricism and fresh originality, the 18-year-old makes up for in selling what’s infectious and trouble-free.
Currently, the Ben Griffin-directed “Gucci Gang” music video has over 800 million views. The Kanye West-assisted “I Love It,” the third single on Pump’s newly-released sophomore album Harverd Dropout, reached global consciousness after going viral. It just passed 400 million views. The question is no longer, can Pump make another one? It’s now, how many more?
If there’s any fun to be had listening to Harverd Dropout, it’s an attempt to spot what alluded me with “Gucci Gang.” With a star-studded guest list that resembles a DJ Khaled album, Lil Pump could potentially have records that will be heard well into the summer—or Harverd Dropout will join a growing list of blockbuster albums only remembered for being forgettable. There is no middle.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
1. "Drop Out"
Pulsing buildup. Feeling festive. “Drop out then I got rich” lyrics I wish Steve Jobs wrote. I hope all the rich dropouts remix this, even the non-rappers. A big missed opportunity not having Kanye on this record. Pretty simplistic production, rather boring even for a song that’s only two minutes, but Pump has passable energy. How did he buy a Rolex before he could write? Is that even possible? Can he currently write? I guess he can sign a record contract. Laughing at Pump telling kids to stay in school.
2. "Nu Uh"
This beat sounds like all the alarms in my head telling me to turn the album off. He dropped out of school just to rap over beats that sound like a fifth-grade fire drill. This is too messy to be amusing. “Real drug addict,” still trips me out how easy rappers will claim to be addicts without seeing an issue with that. “Learn how to sell crack before I learned to read a book.” If Yung Dolph said this same bar I would feel it differently. Conviction makes a difference. I really want to know why Pump is rapping over R2D2 having a meltdown.
3. “I Love It” ft. Kanye West
This is one of those big, viral records that requires a ridiculous music video to work. Lil Pump exists in that magically absurd space between "Weird Al" Yankovic parody rap and J-Kwon's earnest attempts at making a hit. I may not understand its popularity, but I do get why this record worked: oddly infectious and visually goofy like Kel Mitchell in Good Burger singing “We're All Dudes.”
4. “ION” ft. Smokepurpp
“We drug addicts.” Man, he has to stop. Okay, he’s floating. I don't mind this. Bragging about adding Xans to his wonton soup, The Based God would never. I guess every song requires a reference to not needing school. Honestly, this album is making me consider taking some college courses. When will rappers realize saying they’re getting money like a Jew isn't endearing? Offensive is offensive even if the intent isn't malicious. "ION" sounds like kids having an unsupervised sugar rush on a jungle gym. Purpp's second verse isn't bad. Other than the absurd amount of drugs referenced, this record is fine.
5. “Fasho Fasho” ft. Offset
I’m glad the records have been short thus far. "Fasho Fasho" features the most contemporary trap beat thus far. These keys aren’t Zaytoven, but they’re dancing. The drums could slap a bit harder, though. The stale Migo isn’t sounding so stale today. I say this rarely, which means never, but I wish Lil Yachty was on this record. It’s his shade of bubblegum trap. Offset! Love the texture of his voice. The zombie bar was nice. A good feature from the feature killer. Nice piano outro.
6. “Racks on Racks”
This is a good build up. I like the direction. I wish he would’ve called Future for the feature. I wonder what YC is doing today. I have to say, the original “Racks on Racks” was more contagious, but Lil Pump is in a nice pocket. This pocket is his to own. Not mad at how he’s riding it. The hook is boring, the repetition doesn’t work here, but the overall liveliness carries the record. For all the drug references, he’s waking up more and more.
7. “Off White”
Eh, this is not it. He's rapping over an 8-bit video game type beat. The Fortnite bar followed by his gun sounds caused a slight chuckle. This hook is unbearable. If Lil Pump's song was my introduction to Virgil Abloh's clothing brand I'd assume the quality is like the shirt Denise made for Theo. Pump makes homemade Gordon Gartrell music.
8. “Butterfly Doors”
Lively keys. Slow build up. Not a bad beat. I wish he would've just called the Migos to do ad-libs in the background. Might have to do a piece looking at all the gas stations referenced as drug spots. Nevermind, that’s fed talk, lol. Shoutout the Texaco on Bouldercrest. This record doesn’t do anything wrong, but it fails to do anything interesting, a far worse sin. The beat is a polar bear's toenail, though.
9. “Too Much Ice” ft. Quavo
Comes in bit loud. Quavo ad-libs! This… Well, this is.. boisterous. I’m pretty sure this record isn’t mixed, it sounds like he’s yelling directly in my ear. It’s hilariously amped. He’s extremely excited, you can almost hear the energy drink on his breath. I like this as a self-confidence anthem for a rich fifth grader. Quavo! Production is louder than my niece having a baby tantrum. Surprisingly, Quavo isn’t drowned out. He isn’t the loudest Migo, but he’s delivering the expected Quavo verse. It's nothing crazy. “Robbing the bank, no mask” that’s a bizarre brag. Getting caught must be the new wave.
10. “Multi Millionaire” ft. Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Pump likes beats that sound like cherry bombs exploding in garbage cans full of old Macintosh computers. Certain albums will make you appreciate the art of a clean mix. A song called “Multi Millionaire” shouldn’t sound like filing for bankruptcy. Let’s see what Uzi has to offer. Okay, this beat is unbearable, but the flow switch Uzi just pulled off was a good reminder that he still gets busy. I’m going back and listening to Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World when I am done here, a peaceful album by comparison.
11. “Vroom Vroom Vroom”
Someone please edit out all Lil Pump sound effects and send them to me, thank you. Call me crazy, but there is something appealing about this song filled with car sounds. Nevermind, that was a crazy thought. A sign my brain is melting. I will say, “Vroom Vroom Vroom” is finally a song that captures the dizzy madness of drinking four Four Lokos. This is a belligerent. Four Loko drunk if I ever heard one.
12. “Be Like Me” ft. Lil Wayne
Hmm, this sounds like the most commercially appealing record since “I Love It.” It’s a nice groove, these keys are warm and the mix sounds appropriate for sober ears. So, is this Pump’s “Mr. Me Too?” Can Pump, read? I hope he can. Some of these bars are more worrisome than humorous. He spent two grand on a white tee!? Dem Franchize Boyz would be disgusted. Who is this kid’s accountant? Lil Wayne’s background vocals are exciting. A touch of Auto-Tune on his vocals. Yo... This is a verse. Wayne is eating. The Billie Jean bar wasn’t crazy, but well delivered. Oh yeah, this is Wayne’s song. Sounding like Dedication 7. Album highlight.
13. “Stripper Name” ft. YG & 2 Chainz
A stripper record from a kid who isn’t legally able to enter a strip club. Let's see where this goes. This isn’t the sound of money falling from the ceiling. It’s more like a warzone outside Toys “R” Us. Could we fast forward past this Pump verse? Saying Viagra turned him to a wizard was hilarious, though. YG! Fam said he likes his girls without hair, plain as if he was ordering a burger. What a ridiculous song. A stripper named Patricia is the new album highlight. Chainz! He came to eat. “Got to be 21 like Blackjack.” Thank you, Mr. Tauheed Epps, for always delivering.
14. “Drug Addicts”
“Everybody in my gang is drug addicts,” alarming. This is the problematic glorifying that rappers should second-guess making. “Told my pastors I don’t do confessions,” lol, okay. Man, he took ecstasy and went to court. Couldn’t be me. We really went from JAY-Z losing 92 bricks to Lil Pump bragging about how he starts his day with a pint. He should’ve given this beat to OJ da Juiceman for the betterment of humanity.
I’m officially ready to log off this album forever. Pump has overstayed whatever charm was shining through the nonsense. The thing about Lil Pump, he’s bland but occasionally charismatic. It’s like if Screech and Zach Morris became one person—a fusion that bridges the gap between obnoxious and cool but the scale is constantly imbalanced.
16. “Who Dat”
How did this not end up in the hands of Quavo and Gucci Mane? I would listen to a Lil Pump album of Gucci Mane covers. Somehow, in my hearts of hearts, I know it would be worthwhile. Wow, this is good. He seems in control, a good vocal texture, and a laidback hook. Lackluster, but he made it across the finish line with a bit of flavor.
Final (First Listen) Thoughts on Harverd Dropout:
For most of his sophomore album, Lil Pump fails to be interesting. For all the talk of drugs, wealth, and how good his life is, it doesn't sound like he's having much fun.
Harverd Dropout is like watching a movie about a teenager who receives millions of dollars, but instead of exploring what this newfound wealth offers, he spends all day online boasting about his riches.
Throughout Harverd Dropout, Lil Pump emulates the perception of a rockstar lifestyle, rather than living and documenting an authentic one.
Across the project's 16 tracks, there are no hits that will make it to summer or surprise deep cuts that will be discussed next winter. There’s no mesmerizing melodies, or infectious flows, or alluring beats to make the project an experience that's memorable.
Harverd Dropout is an album that doesn't have any ambition. The lack of effort and resolve is more frustrating than any technical shortcomings.
The community of forgettable albums adds another member.