On the cover of “Harverd Dropout,” the sophomore album from Miami rapper Lil Pump, the young MC is tossing homework papers in the air and looking rakish with his graduation cap askew, while wearing a robe emblazoned with the misspelled university name from his new full-length’s title.
If this is meant to signal some sort of stupidity, that lean is surely incongruous. Working social media, streaming outlets and YouTube with the skill of a surgeon (or almost a Kardashian), the now-19-year-old started making hits in 2017 by dropping “D Rose” and “Boss” on SoundCloud, with his next smash, “Gucci Gang,” coming close to 900 million views on YouTube (Gucci Gang also happens to be the name of Pump’s trio with Gucci Mane and Smokepurpp, which will make its debut at Coachella in April). His recent collaboration with Kanye West, “I Love It” has racked up more than 407 million views with a viral #ILoveItChallenge that has won imitative memes from James Corden and Ellen Degeneres.
You can’t be that dumb if you can get Cordon and Degeneres to pump up your jams, although the lyrics to new tracks such as “Drug Addicts” and the repetitive “Racks on Racks” may not rock Foucault’s Pendulum with their wit or originality. Claiming he “Learned how to sell crack before I learned to read a book” (on “Nu Uh”) makes him sound more juvenilely stupid than he needs, but Lil Pump is wise to his world and smart where it counts.
Having said that, he hasn’t really switched up his sonic styling or baritone flow from his initial singles or his self-titled album debut of 2017 for his new effort. Along with helping to turn trap into a pop-hop vibe, his tracks are simplistic, contagiously catchy, and occasionally enhanced by rousing choruses.
“Be Like Me,” featuring Lil Wayne, is similar to “I Love It,” in that Pump makes his partner shine brighter and, well, kinder: The autotuned Wayne doesn’t sound menacing and young Pump doesn’t sound like a shaggy dog. Instead, both men come across as cheerfully goofy and braggadocio-filled, yet adult in a mentor/apprentice fashion with a warm, electro bounce boppiness for added pop attention. The ticklish electric piano backing to “Butterfly Doors” is as addictive as his bouncing flow, although he marred the original version of the song, released in December, with a racist line (“They call me Yao Ming cause my eye real low” with “ching chong” adlib), but he has since apologized for that misstep and removed the offending line from “Harverd Droput.”
And since “Gucci Gang” was occasionally accused of being too similar to Migos, it’s only fair that Quavo (“Too Much Ice”) and Offset (“Fasho Fasho”) appear on “Harverd.” Oddly, the two Migos members both sound more intense on their Pump tracks than they have on their recent solo efforts.
“Harverd Dropout” is by no means perfect: The album has a lot of throwaways and Pump’s development as a lyricist seems stunted by his youthful success — for all of his bragging and achievements, he really should sound as if he’s having more fun. But then again, maybe he’s concentrating on keeping the melodies simple and catchy and his words in league with his image. After all, he’s no dummy.