The Rickety Old Shack

Lil Pump — Harverd Dropout

album cover

After enjoying Lil Pump's self-titled debut album (review) a lot more than I expected, I was curious to see how the Florida rapper would develop as he matured and continued to put out new material. 2018 saw quite a number of singles drop, but no album to speak of. Harverd Dropout was apparently supposed to come out in mid-September, but Pump "lost" the album — however one manages to do that... Five months later, we finally have Lil Pump's sophomore effort, Harverd Dropout. Does the next entry in the discography of one of rap's biggest breakout stars surpass past work and elevate his craft to the next level? In a word: no.

Despite boasting 16 tracks, Harverd Dropout clocks in at just over 40 minutes. In some respects, that's probably a good thing, but the brevity of these tracks cuts two ways: even the worst songs are over fairly quickly, but without an infectious beat or some really slick verses their brief natures also makes the material extremely forgettable. Opening with "Drop Out," the album sets a tone that it really never deviates from. Minimalistic trap beats and some synths provide all the instrumentation throughout the whole record. Even by trap standards, the beats are pretty weak and unremarkable; you get the usual rattling hi-hats and deep, thumping, bassy kicks, but the instrumentals are almost completely interchangeable and lacking any earworm qualities. The most memorable instrumental is "Racks On Racks," which crutches on what sounds like an extremely generic, stock sample of strings that that I am positive has been used in countless software product videos / ads — so it's not memorable in a good way.

Pump's in usual form, spouting off the mind-numbingly repetitious sorts of verses that you'd expect from someone who cut "Gucci Gang." Aside from being a little clearer in his enunciation, and some quicker tempo raps in "Racks On Racks," Pump isn't breaking any new ground and is often carried by the beats — as unimpressive as they are — on most of this material. Even the guest features aren't very compelling, with Migos members Offset and Quavo each lending very forgettable verses to "Fasho Fasho" and "Too Much Ice" respectively. Lil Wayne allegedly appears on "Be Like Me," but he's so auto-tuned and unimpressive that it could have been anyone. Lil Uzi Vert phones in some auto-croon on "Multi Millionaire," which is probably the best track on the album — and it's still an average tune. On the final track, "Who Dat," Pump sounds either like 21 Savage or a door with hinges desperately in need of some WD40 — however you want to classify it, it's grating.

Overall, the major problem with Harverd Dropout is that it's just a rehash of everything we've already heard from Lil Pump, just with a much bigger budget. The more polished production basically renders the material sterile and lifeless — completely lacking the energy and DIY charm of Pump's debut effort. I don't have a problem with artists who confine themselves to small niches, but Pump didn't bring anything new to the table on this album to justify another 40 minutes of him bragging about how rich he is, the drugs he does and ... uhh.... all the money he has, some of which he spends on drugs. The lyrics are average at best, and even Pump's excessive energy and charisma aren't enough to carry this album towards anything but mediocrity. "Vroom Vroom Vroom" flips between being incredibly goofy and amusing and being one of the dumbest, most aggravating pieces of music I have ever subjected myself to. In the win column, there are no truly atrocious tracks on Harverd Dropout, there just aren't any great ones either.

This isn't the worst album of the year, it's just severely underwhelming. As someone who enjoys a lot of trap music, and even considers himself a fan of Lil Pump, I find Harverd Dropout to be mediocre and a sign that Pump might be reaching the end of his sell-by date quicker than I imagined. When I reviewed his self-titled debut, I speculated that if he didn't evolve as an artist then he'd flame out pretty quickly. I don't think Harverd Dropout is going to be the end of Pump's career, but if he drops another record that sounds like this then we'll need to revisit that thought. A lot of these tracks were already released as singles a while ago ("Drug Addicts," "I Love It," and "Esskeetit"), so that probably didn't help things much — it's even harder to stay fresh with tracks that have been on YouTube for 6-10 months. "I Love It" isn't an album-quality cut, and without the video it premiered with there's just nothing there. Likewise with "Drug Addicts," which featured Charlie Sheen in its video and actually has Pump almost doing some introspection in the lyrics.

For Pump's next album, I'm really going to need more than a bunch of brain-dead hooks, random interjections of "ooh," "bitch," and that strange phone-ringing sound he makes all the time... The debut was fun, raw, and stupid, the follow-up seems like a redundant misstep.

Summary

An underwhelming follow-up to a catchy, stupid-fun debut album, Harverd Dropout brings a big budget to the Lil Pump formula and little else. The record has fun moments, and isn't a total write-off, but it's a concerning sign that Lil Pump may become stale sooner than later. Even a litany of guest appearances don't elevate this record above average fare. If you're a fan who just wants more Lil Pump, this album has you covered. On the other hand, if you're looking for more than just some generic trap beats and Pump beating a verse-and-a-half to death for 2.5 minutes (or less) over and over again, then I'd suggest looking elsewhere. As a fan of the artist and the genre, Harverd Dropout is a letdown. I didn't expect high art, but I figured on a record that was better than this.

Album Information

Release date: February 22nd, 2019
Record label: Warner Brothers Records

Lil Pump — vocals, production on track 15
Kanye West — vocals and production (track 3)
Smokepurpp — vocals (track 4)
Offset — vocals (track 5)
Quavo — vocals (track 9)
Lil Uzi Vert — vocals (track 10)
Lil Wayne — vocals (track 12)
YG — vocals (track 13)
2 Chainz — vocals (track 13)
Diablo — production (tracks 1, 4, 6)
MISOGI — production (track 2)
Danny Wolf — production (tracks 2, 10)
Andrew Canton — production (track 2)
DJ Clark Kent — production (track 3)
CBMix — production (tracks 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 15, 16)
Diamond Pistols — production (track 6)
Fizzle — production (tracks 7, 13)
TreeGotti — production (track 9)
Venkatesh — production (track 10)
Hanzo — production (track 10)
Ronny J — production (track 11)
Dee Money — production (track 14)
Baby Winsch — production (track 14)

Track Listing

  1. Drop Out
  2. Nu Uh
  3. I Love It
  4. ION
  5. Fasho Fasho
  6. Racks On Racks
  7. Off White
  8. Butterfly Doors
  9. Too Much Ice
  10. Multi Millionaire
  11. Vroom Vroom Vroom
  12. Be Like Me
  13. Stripper Name
  14. Drug Addicts
  15. Esskeetit
  16. Who Dat

Link: soundcloud.com

—by Derek

Published: March 1st, 2019.