Pump is probably the SoundCloud rapper most likely to transcend his movement.
Lil Pump is one of the better SoundCloud rappers. His appeal is easy to understand: he’s youthfully exuberant and outrageously funny. Now that our trustiest punchline rappers are off on loftier pursuits—Big Sean as big-tent Yeezy goth, 2 Chainz as philanthropist rap uncle—it’s good to have Pump around to keep our spirits up. And who knows, maybe he’ll only get better. He’s still only 17.
His self-titled debut (does it even matter if it’s an album or a mixtape?) spills over with quotables, most of them filthy. “Diamonds so yellow they look like piss!” “Rubbin’ on my dick like a pet!” They need the exclamation points. He fires them off one every two seconds or so. Some of the album’s best one-liners are its most absurd. The line “I bought a dog in the club too” isn’t half as funny as the inexplicable ad-lib “majestic.” And “Smoke My Dope” peaks with the distortion on Pump’s voice dropping out as he screams “I just had a stroke!”
Pump is a party rapper through and through. There’s no emo affectation here, no hand-wringing about the price of egotism. If he’s confused with Lil Peep, it’s not for his music. He mostly raps about jewelry and drugs, but he finds inventive ways to talk about them. When it comes to women he’s a brute, though to his credit he did go off on A$AP Rocky’s rapist buddy Ian Connor on Instagram.
Though his close buddy Smokepurpp appears on three tracks, Pump revels in his clout by inviting older, much more respected rappers to guest. The blinding fun of his music seems to bring out the best in his elders. Rick Ross huffs and puffs on “Pinky Ring,” Gucci Mane sounds invigorated on “Youngest Flexer,” Lil Yachty tumbles into “Back” in full Lil Boat mode. No surprise he finds the best chemistry with 2 Chains, who opens his verse like so: “Ice, ice, ice, ice, ice, ice, freezin’/Ice, ice, ice, ice, ice, ice, sneezin’/Ah-choo!” It’s that kind of album, and it’s a blast.
Pump’s got a fine ear for beats, too. Like many SoundCloud rappers, he loves distortion, and “Smoke My Dope” and “D-Rose” both rocket into the red. He has a fetish for ominous bells—not the horror-movie Danny Elfman kind, but big, sonorous ones that seem to boom from the belfry of a church. The music on Lil Pump is uniformly aggressive and abrasive, so it’s good that this thing is only 36 minutes long—split over 15 songs, most of which barely breach three minutes.
There’s still a lot of filler. “Whitney” with Chief Keef goes nowhere; the zombified Chicagoan is hardly animated enough to sustain the song and is by some measure the album’s worst guest spot. A lot of the shorter songs aren’t terribly memorable, though they thrill when they’re on. And he’s got a gift with one-liners, but the same can’t be said of hooks. Lil Pump is strictly a rapper, and he prefers to hammer hooks into our heads rather than lay them on and let them stick.
Pump is probably the SoundCloud rapper most likely to transcend his movement and go onto bigger and better things. Still, if he flounders on the second album, he’s at least given us one of the most flat-out fun rap releases of 2017.