On Lil Pump’s Buoyant Debut Album ‘Harverd Dropout,’ His Abundant Energy Gets Exhausting

Warner Music Group

For the life of me, I still cannot understand how modern society considers anyone an adult at the age of 18. Sure, at that age, your awareness of the world is growing, but for the most part, anyone in their teens still has more of the seemingly boundless energy of youth than the hard-won patience and wisdom of experience. I suspect it’s because of that energy, at least in part.

By that time, the adults in your life — parents, teachers, coaches, mentors — have been dealing with you for long enough that they’re just plain exhausted. At that point, they’ve decided they’re tired of trying to keep up with you and it’s high time you keep up with yourself. Of course, the drawback to that approach is a lot of fumbling to find behaviors, habits, patterns, and thoughts that allow you to focus that energy toward creating the semblance of a constructive existence. And it’s hard. It’s just about the hardest thing there is.

Lil Pump’s debut album, Harverd Dropout, is a microcosm of this principle. There’s so much energy. There’s a light veneer of polish, that promise of maturity. It’s almost too easy to forget you’re listening to the product of an 18-year-old mind whose primary concerns are still convincing his peers that he’s cool by wearing the right brand clothes, getting girls, and trying his best to imitate the patterns of adulthood that have been modeled for him, while rebelling against boundaries in a wordless, furtive effort to create his own identity separate from those constraints.

But, because he is an 18-year-old with an abundance of energy and no real worldview or strategy to apply it to, what you end up with is 15 songs of just that energy and little else. His personality is fun and charismatic, the beats are thumping and effervescent, but Pump doesn’t have much to say or the tools to say it yet; despite the promise in the polish, all that unfocused energy just winds up being exhausting.

It’s ironic that one of his many juvenile efforts to attract attention and impress his peers with showy acts of machismo was positioning himself as a sort-of anti-J. Cole, because Harverd Dropout feels almost like he wanted to make the exact opposite of KOD. Where Cole’s efforts are nearly universally nitpicked by his critics for being low-key, overly preachy affairs, Dropout is Pump turned up to 11 on every track, acting out exaggerated celebrations of all the addictions Cole denounces on KOD.