Tha Lights Global

The year 2017 will go down in history as a period of transition for hip-hop culture. Although ageism in rap has become all but irrelevant, the shift towards a changing of the guard is imminent with the new influx of rap talent that has taken the industry by storm. Among the more popular incubators for these upstarts is SoundCloud. One region that has taken full advantage of SoundCloud is South Florida, home to an array of artists that have utilized the service to create a seismic buzz for themselves. The term "SoundCloud rap" has become part of the cultural lexicon and 17-year-old Miami native Lil Pump is one of the most popular artists to emerge out of this rap scene thus far.

Seeing his profile skyrocket after unleashing his Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Rose-inspired single "D Rose," which has amassed over 36 million plays on SoundCloud alone, Lil Pump has only kept his foot on the pedal, with subsequent releases like "Gucci Gang," "Boss" and "Molly" building on that momentum. With all eyes on him, Pump puts forth his full-length debut album, a self-titled affair that captures his exuberance and disarming charisma, which he exudes throughout the project's 15 tracks.

Leading off the effort is "What U Sayin'," a collaboration with Gucci Gang member and partner-in-rhyme Smokepurpp, another Floridian that has found massive success. Produced by Trapphones and FadedBlackid, "What U Sayin'" is powered by menacing keys and jittery snares, over which Lil Pump drawls, "Hunnids on hunnids on hunnids, ooh/Pull up on a teacher, I'm stuntin'/Countin' up racks, it ain't nothin'/Sold you rerock and Robitussin," balancing trap talk with musings of his ostentatious lifestyle. Smokepurpp, four years Lil Pump's senior and a more experienced rhymer, rides shotgun, snarling, "Lookin' at my body, all this Louis/Gun ’em down in the trap, then we move ’em/Now they lookin' for his body in the sewer/Lil Pump do the work like a student." Purpp anchors the track while painting a grisly picture of life in the streets of South Florida.

Lil Pump's debut presents an early highlight in the Ronny J-produced "Smoke My Dope," another instance in which Smokepurpp and Pump connect and brandish their innate chemistry. Purpp shines with a string of deceptively witty couplets, like "Balmain on my jeans (yuh)/Pour a four of lean (Lil Purpp)/She gon' swallow kids (huh, yeah)/That's a Kid's Cuisine," proving himself once again to be a worthy costar.

Beyond previously released material like "D Rose," "Gucci Gang," "Boss" and "Molly," all of which appear on Lil Pump LP, the instances in which fans get to witness the rapper in a solo setting are sparse in comparison to the number of collaborative numbers. However, when he's left to his own devices, Pump is capable of holding listener's attention on account of his colorful flair alone, as he does on "Crazy," but "At the Door," a CBMIX and Big Head-produced number, is when Pump shines brightest. Turning in one of his more impressive stanzas, Pump glides over the percussion and synths as he spills couplets like "Yeah, my Uzi automatic/Make your grandma do a backflip/Yeah, that .45 do that magic/Yeah, my wrist do that gymnastics," while boasting of his exploits as a trap star.

The rapper's meteoric rise is evident by taking one glance at the tracklist for his debut project, which features appearances from some of the hottest artists in rap at the moment. This is a hell of a coup for a kid that's not even legally allowed to get in the club at this point. Gucci Mane contributes a verse to the Big Head-produced "Youngest Flexer," a stuntastic cut on which Pump flourishes, bragging, "I just bought $3,000 Gucci pants/I just left the trap, and I'm off the Xans," before linking with Chief Keef, a former teenage phenom in his own right, on "Whitney."

Additional features on Lil Pump include 2 Chainz, who appears on "Iced Out," and Rick Ross, who lends his baritone to "Pinky Ring," an amped-up finale cut that constitutes as the sole posse cut on the mixtape. Illa Da Producer cooks up an epic backdrop of distortion, over which Pump, Ross and Smokepurpp wreak havoc, ending the proceedings on a crescendo and wrapping up Lil Pump's debut collection.

As the latest rapper with a propensity for dyed hair, an affinity for prescription drugs and an appetite for violence and nihilism, Lil Pump has drawn the ire of some in the rap community who feel he and his ilk are the scourge of the culture. However, upon closer examination, he is a capable, albeit repetitive rhymer that compensates for what he lacks in terms of depth, structure and variety with unbridled passion, catchy refrains and an ear for enticing production.

Chock-full of trunk-rattling bangers and few egregious clunkers, Lil Pump is a project that confirms its creator's arrival and his place as one of the leading men in the SoundCloud rap scene. Time will tell if Lil Pump will be able to evolve into a mainstream superstar in the mold of predecessors like Lil Uzi Vert, but if his debut is any indication, odds are that he'll be a household name in rap sooner rather than later.

Tha Lights Global

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