Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Matt Damon typically top the list when discussing successful dropouts of Harvard University, but a newer, younger artist is out to topple their reign. 18-year old musician Lil Pump, who jokes about having “drop[ped] out of Harvard to save the rap game,” released his long-awaited sophomore album “Harverd Dropout” last week. The opener, aptly named “Drop Out,” sets the tone for the next 15 tracks with synths and lyrics that “gas up” his unattainable riches.
The main appeal of Lil Pump’s musical style is the ease with which a listener can follow along. Tracks like “Vroom Vroom Vroom” intrigue with their repetition. The title emulates the song — the word “vroom” is repeated sixty times in the span of two minutes. “Racks on Racks,” also carries this essence and is heightened by the addition of his classic tagline “esskeetit” yelled throughout the chorus. Lil Pump keeping it simple is redeeming — his music is made for effortless enjoyment. “Harverd Dropout” doesn’t attempt to mask what it is: an indulgent mumble-rap album.
Most of the songs feature the same elements: a short synth melody that repeats the entire track, a simple beat, and Lil Pump’s shouting voice. While this formula succeeds in producing the bouncing melody of songs like “Off White,” the tracks “Too Much Ice” and “Multi Millionaire” fail to resonate. “Multi Millionaire” utilizes a tune of three seemingly random notes repeated for nearly three minutes, distracting more than they entertain. Save for some weak mixing, Lil Pump’s standard song structure succeeds more often than it doesn’t.
Where “Harverd Dropout” unequivocally disappoints, however, is in lack of variety. The tracks blend into each other rather seamlessly, but these easy transitions means that there is room for more diversity in sound and in lyrics. Each song stands as a vibrant single on its own, but together the repetition becomes rather tedious. Lil Pump himself seems to have recognized this trait — he dropped an unusual number of songs from the album prior to its official release, conceivably to distract from their incompatibility as a full entity. Listeners may only get the experience of hearing ten new tracks versus the actual 16, but had all 16 dropped at once, the overall monotony might have overpowered the more exciting components of the album.
However, a few tracks manage to break from this musical uniformity and provide depth to “Harverd Dropout.” The Kanye West collaboration “I Love It” is noticeably smoother than the rest. The aggressive character of the album is absent, providing variety from the wealth of more assertive pieces. And while “I Love It” has a more subdued vibe, it still maintains a catchy and dynamic beat. “Be Like Me” stands out because of the cadence that Lil Pump employs. Other tracks tend to lack intonation and real expression, but in this piece Lil Pump takes on a more meaningful character in his voice, especially when he says, “I’m a millionaire, but I don’t know how to read.”
The running motif throughout “Harverd Dropout” is Lil Pump’s ridiculous wealth and success despite his lack of education. In “Drug Addicts,” he raps, “Man, fuck school,” but the main purpose of mumble-rap artists like Lil Pump is not to write lyrics that inspire empathy, nor to thoughtfully construct musical masterpieces. Whether through hard work and effort, social media and meme savvy, or a little bit of both, Lil Pump has made a name for himself as a rapper and personality. The strength of Lil Pump is not so much his musical talent, but rather his ability to energize an audience. An album like “Harverd Dropout” is ultimately intended to produce something that entertains and that sells, and it succeeds in doing just that.