Headphones: Lil Pump Represents Rap's Bigger Picture
Album of the Week: Lil Pump- Lil Pump The world is constantly changing. I promise I'm not talking about Global Warming, there is a much less important point being made here. In the world, people change, styles change, music changes. Some genres evolve slightly, if there is one genre that bends and evolves more than any other though-- it's rap music.
Think back to the origins of rap. From the broken glass and crack rock infested streets of New York were young poets, scribbling rhymes to scratch-made beats describing their dire circumstances. From there it became a different beast entirely. Money was what they needed, but it came too fast, Biggie covering the problem perfectly. Today, rap music sounds completely distinct from its origin, but some things stay the same. Money has become the motive and mode of transportation.
One of the most dominant young rappers in the game is Lil Pump. His authenticity and unrelenting wildness is what sets him apart from his peers, as leader of the turn-up movement that is sweeping rap music today. Lil Pump's debut release, Lil Pump, will most certainly garner lots of attention and sales, but it's album of the week for a much larger reason. What the 17-year-old from Miami does on this album is break all the rules and truly bring meme-rap to the forefront.
What is meme rap? Meme rap is a result of the current obsession with turning the **** up. The beats are rambunctious and deadly, often bouncing with so much bass, they could trigger the San Andreas fault. The lyrics, are less lyrics and more declarations of ostentatious wealth and violence, which isn't exactly new in rap. lyrics are repeated over and over until burnt into the catchiness of the song and the conscious. Words and phrases become commonly used phrases that capture the zeitgeist. In short, meme rap defines culture today.
Lil Pump has become a part of the culture by embedding himself in the turn up scene, flashing his riches and drug affinity like shiny new toys. His songs "Flex Like Oouu" and "Boss" became enormous internet hits, raking up 45 million and 30 million Spotify streams respectively. On Instagram and Twitter, people place the songs on top of videos, creating memes. Like this Sid The Science Kid video that rapidly brought Migos' huge hit "Bad and Boujee" to the public adoration.
Pump's latest hit, "Gucci Gang" is rapidly ascending up the rap charts. The repatitive and unbelievably catchy nature of these songs quickly creates a powerful niche for Lil Pump as King of the Turn Up.
This is a hot take, but the best part about these songs are the lyrics. While some of rap's biggest critics (oldheads) can't stand the lyrics of these songs because they're not poetic enough, lyrics like these for example exist throughout.
"My lean cost more than your rent, ooh (it do) / Your momma still live in a tent, yuh (brr) / Still slangin' dope in the jets, huh? (yuh) / Me and my grandma take meds, ooh (huh?)"
As well as these.
"I got designer from head to my toe / I'm on the Xan, and my bitch on that coke / I got Givenchy all over my coat I'm off that X / and I just poured a 4"
Lil Pump creates these words and phrases that aren't exactly to the poetic standards of "Cash Rules Everything Around Me" but they're so damn catchy. In today's meme culture, we want this catchiness more than we want to chew on esoteric lyrics.
"D Rose" is a hypnotic and repetitive track that bounces off the walls like a ricocheting bullet. On it, Pump describes how the expensive jewelry on his wrist makes him feel like Derrick Rose, once again bridging the gap between rappers and athletes. As Drake said, "Damn, I swear sports and music are so synonymous / Cause we want to be them, and they want to be us."
Pump's song "Molly" is a party anthem if there ever was one. His words are biting and aggressive on this thing and the beat is outrageous and fiery. He flexes his hardest over the twinkling beat produced by superstar hit makers, Big Head and Ronny J. He shouts repeatedly over the hard hitting track "I'm on a molly, I'm on a bean!" It's the kind of song that sounds like getting rowdy at a nightclub and potentially fighting a bouncer before even entering the building.
Lil Pump makes his first release in the rap world a memorable and colorful one. The album is full of fun features by some of the biggest stars in the game. The beats are loud and disorderly things, and the songs sound like a punch in the face. It reminds me of what Culture did for Migos. Although he won't be winning any Pulitzer prizes for lyricism on this thing, it is incredibly fun to listen to, work out to, drive to, and most importantly, party to.
These are dark times we're living in and everyone needs something to help to not go insane. For a lot of people, that thing is getting lit to music. That's why Lil Pump is my album of the week, because maybe in times like this, we need artists like Lil Pump more than ever.
Single of the Week
Kamiyah- "Successful" Kamaiyah is the underrated Compton rapper responsible for one of last year's most fire releases, Good Day in the Ghetto. Now it looks like she's plotting a huge new release that sounds just as bling-filled and G-funk era groovy as her last album.
On her new track, "Successful" which appeared online last week only to be promptly taken down, Kamaiyah floods the sound with decadence and style. Her swagger on this track is unheard of, she sounds 200 feet tall and of course, iced out with the flyest Adidas tracksuit and a fresh Cuban Link around her neck.
The chorus is an unstoppable and catchy thing, and the verses are crispy. If she keeps releasing tracks like this, Kamaiyah will be hard to miss this year. With "Successful," Kamaiyah is on close watch for album of the year.
Music Videos of the Week
U.S. Girls- "Mad as Hell" Protest songs are as American as baseball and racism. While we're currently embroiled in some of the most hateful times in modern history, and most of that hate directed at our Tangerine In Chief, Donald Trump, it's important to know that hate existed before he took over. U.S. Girls is the project of Illinois-born, Toronto-based Meghan Remy. Remy remembers that not long ago, President Obama allowed for drone strikes to ransack people of their security and their lives. This is a protest song for that, and I'm sure once this issue is properly protested, Remy's biting lyrics and outstanding melodies will take on Trumpito with the same kind of aggression and force.
Spoon- "I Ain't the One" Spoon is one the greatest and most consistent bands on the planet. I will stand by that declaration until my dying day. They have always made music that sticks to their sound, but strays away just enough to entice and excite the listener. Spoon fans pick up on the smallest idiosyncrasies and details in a song that make it exemplary. On "I Ain't the One" it's Britt Daniel's strained and yet cool vocal performance on top of perhaps the moodiest and slyest song the band has ever released. The video is just as moody, with the band performing in a dark room, with just enough lighting to illuminate them in impeccably cool ways. Videos like this tell stories just as much as the songs do, and this story is "how fucking incredible is this band?!"
HAIM- "Little of Your Love" Women rule! And these women, the HAIM sisters, Alana, Danielle, and Este, are some of America's gems. They make undeniably fun and carefree sounding music that has emotional depth like no other in their genre. Their song, "Little of Your Love" was one of the best on their latest album, Something to Tell You. Now it has received the Paul Thomas Anderson music video treatment.
I could write 2,500 words about my favorite director, PTA, but I'll just say this. All of his work, whether it be his films, from Boogie Nights to There Will Be Blood to Inherent Vice, or his videos, have some element of bizarre. The art is undeniable, the direction, the visuals, all incredible, but there is just something off that lures you in and keeps you fascinated. In this video I think it's the little kids running through the forefront of this big choreographed dance scene. How do you direct that? How did he envision that? It's just another stunner made by one of the most talented directors in the business.