Born Gazzy Garcia, in South Florida, very little is known about the origins of the SoundCloud rapper who has made his way into the industry (recently signing a $365K deal with Warner Bros. Records) except for the fact he’s only 17 (born August 17, 2000) and that he’s of Afro-Cuban origins. His journey to the spotlight started in 2016 when he began posting snippets of songs, and then eventually full songs to the music sharing website SoundCloud with his best friend, and fellow rapper SmokePurpp (signed to Travis Scott’s label). He frequently collaborates with producers such as Ronny J, DJ Bighead, etc and has had many notable features on his self titled debut mixtape Lil Pump, such as Lil Yachty, Chief Keef, Gucci Mane, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, and Smokepurpp.
So what is so special about a 17 year old kid, a high-school dropout from the projects in South Florida? It’s his ability to amass a cult following in a short period of time, and releasing music that essentially is a repertoire of the same phrases, the same ideas, and the same motifs yet is still praised by his followers. It’s all about money, drugs, and sex. In some way, this new generation of SoundCloud artists and even mainstream rappers like Lil Uzi Vert have become the modern day rockstars, channeling the hardcore beats, the sensational outfits, the somewhat inflated ego’s and also bringing back the pop punk influence that has never quite faded but definitely did loose momentum towards the mid to late 2010’s. I don’t think we can quite call Lil Pump a rockstar just yet, but if you were to simply look at his concerts you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
This rockstar attitude of his begs the question “Is Lil Pump real?” or is it all a persona, a gimmick that he has used to attract his fanbase. Lil Pump is characterized by his act, this crazy wild child who’s above the law, consuming drugs that are not only illegal but fatal. Lil Pump has often been called the “one man opioid crisis” because of his dangerous pastimes. He buys expensive clothes, his favorite brand is Gucci (who he’s paid homage to in his hit “Gucci Gang” an has actually tattooed on his neck) and he is constantly “flexing”, which is a term used to describe the act of bragging. If it was all an act, I would not be surprised, many before him have done this to escalate their careers. Lil Pump, although he has always had a substantial fanbase, is the product of memes and jokes which he has been smart enough to go with and capitalize off of, one of the biggest jokes regarding him is that he dropped out of Harvard to save the rap game, or that he’s obtained many accomplishments all before ultimately giving it up to revitalize the rap industry, and of course his obsession with Miranda Cosgrove, who he calls Carly, in reference to her Nick TV Show she starred in. Here are just some of the memes regarding Lil Pump:
As you can tell, Pump is characterized by his “air-headedness”, his bluntness, and he might be revolutionary in the sense that he’s one of the first few meme rappers to have actually reached a mainstream level of success. That’s something noteworthy from a business perspective.
In regards to his first mainstream hit, Gucci Gang, that currently sits at #3 on the Billboard Top 100, it’s clearly an ode to the class struggle, the juxtaposition of wanting to lead a luxurious life (hence “Gucci” as it is a luxurious brand) but coming from a background, especially being a person of color from a working class neighborhood, that makes it harder for you to attain this life. Pump characterizes and associates a good life with being able to enjoy luxuries. In this heartfelt ode, Pump details his struggles with commitment, his drug addiction, and how he is a product of his environment. He discusses how he would rather maintain relationships with women who have come from the “projects” i.e working class neighborhoods rather than the wealthier, privileged women he has met along the way to his stardom, showing how despite how he has grown so big, he will never forget who he is or where he comes from. Gucci Gang is a metaphor for Lil Pumps dreams. He was a kid from a working class neighborhood, and he and his friends worked together to come up and now lead lives of luxury. This is a twist on the classic rags to riches story that almost everyone wishes to live. In some sense Lil Pump is a projection of many teenagers deepest desires, he is an ‘all-American reject”, a rebel, a boy that was set up for failure, but he made it.
Just kidding. I’m sure Lil Pump meant to convey a different message however it was fun thinking of a deeper meaning to a song that essentially has no set meaning, it’s just one big brag. A flex song. One to turn up to after a long day. Lil Pumps songs don’t have a set meaning because Lil Pump’s whole musical aesthetic is “temporary”. Temporariness and the lack of permanence or substance in virtually all his music is appealing because it corresponds to Lil Pump’s purpose. His purpose is not to stimulate your minds or challenge ideas, his purpose is to do exactly the opposite. He makes music that creates hype, an atmosphere of excitement and during a time period of full of statements and expression of ideas whether it be political or social, Lil Pump sets out to make music that revolves around the more frivolous things in life, describing his own music and movement as “ignorant”. Lil Pump has himself become a statement rather than his music.
Is it all a gimmick, a ploy to attract views or is it real? The world may never know, but that’s what makes Lil Pump or at least the idea of Lil Pump so enticing. He’s a young wild child, the perfect anti-hero, someone that is so easy to hate but deep down he is living a life many teenagers desire to live (which isn’t necessarily a good thing) and that’s why his music is as big as it is. It is not necessarily good, but it is something unique, something that is very individualistic and when it’s on, you know it’s Lil Pump. We live in the era, the age of six second fame, where an astonishing 75% of children want to be YouTuber’s or Vloggers, internet and social media personalities. Lil Pump is another character many have either come to worship or to hate, there’s almost no in-between, however regardless of how you feel about him it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.
Lil Pump isn’t for everyone, he’s really not doing anything with his platform or making a “positive” societal difference. However, at the end of the day Lil Pump is someone that somehow has reached a demographic mainstream music has been failing to for a while now. There’s a part of me that hopes Lil Pump is an act, the excessive drug use, the over the top personality, all the materialism, but then there’s also a part of me that hopes Lil Pump is real, that he can get help, and maybe he can use his platform as a rapper and a famous one that is able to reach the youth, to advocate that sobriety is possible, and that the lifestyle he’s living has a body count.
Lil Pump is making big moves, he’s transitioning from the underground to being a “superstar”, and regardless of how anyone feels about him, he’s becoming big, which means his influence is huge, almost unprecedented, and with that comes huge responsibility. Lil Pump is in some sense glorifying a lifestyle that has killed a lot of people, most recently Lil Peep, a favorite SoundCloud artist of mine, and I think his “fans” and people around him should be concerned about him and the root of all these problems, why he may do drugs so often.
Lil Pump has potential regardless of how older rappers or other people feel about him, but sometimes I wonder how Gazzy Garcia (Lil Pumps real name/personality) feels about all of this? Are Pump and Gazzy the same, or is Lil Pump just a costume? Despite being so open, so in your face, I can’t help but what wonder who Lil Pump really is.