The Rise and Fall of Esskeetit: Revisiting Lil Pump
Liz Foster ’22
Bits & Songs Editor
“Yeah, I’m selling crack in the halls,” boasts 17-year-old Gazzy Garcia, better known by his rap nickname Lil Pump, on his track “Boss.” The single is said to be one of many that rocketed Lil Pump to SoundCloud and mumble rap in the late 2010s. The contagious trap sound that emerged from Atlanta has migrated south from Florida as rappers like Ski Mask the Slump God, XXXTentacion and Lil Pump created their own versions of the genre.
On the personal-parasocial level, the Broward County rapper has repeatedly been thrilling material for a trio of articles: a review of his full albums, a diagram of his most frequently used ad libs, and a critique of the rap drug culture that has since claimed the lives of Lil Peep, Juice Wrld and Mac Miller. I find myself looking for an industry number equivalent to, or even similar to, Mr. Garcia, but all paled in comparison.
Lil Pump emerged in prime time for a character of his nature to rise to mainstream stardom. From posting tracks detailing both the sale and use of drugs with the elderly on skeletal streaming platforms to a Saturday Night Live performance with Kanye West, Mr. Garcia solidified as a keystone of pop culture. Its 2017 release “Gucci Gang” officially-officially helped the brand to double its sales the following year; his eponymous debut scored a solid 6.9 from Fork and an impressive 7/10 of popular, critical Internet figure and self-proclaimed “Internet’s Greatest Music Nerd” Anthony Fantano. Trend-setters with the power to make and break careers and establish public opinion have taken Lil Pump to the upper echelon of contemporary rap, giving him the keys to a kingdom dominated by giants like Lil Uzi Vert, Drake and the Migos.
The first full version of the rapper, Small pump, offered features from contemporaries like Smokepurrp and more established artists like Chief Keef, Lil Yachty and 2 Chainz; the latter notably sings “Ice, ice gel; ice, sneezing ice ‘! ” on “Iced Out.”The album had few sleepers and, even when it bordered on rehearsal, showed the power of producer Diablo’s skill. There was a charming, comedic quality to Lil Pump’s lines as he spat heavy bars over aggressive, loud songs. The bass on tracks like “D Rose” was loud enough to kill a small animal and give your grandparents a heart attack. In a word, small pump was fascinating.
In 2019, I argued that Dropping out of Harvard had an “irresistible quality,” but three years later I would like to come back to that claim. It was Lil Pump himself who possessed the irresistible quality, not his mediocre second album. His bars on money, drugs and women had lost their fresh, fun quality from his 2016-2018 career cycle. The antics that got her going viral, like the live broadcast of a girl performing a not-so-PG act and her pissing on a stack of cash, have lost their charm. The hoarse cry of “ESKETTIT” just didn’t strike the same; her buzzing repetitions of phrases like “everyone wants to be like me” or “I don’t know the bitch, but I know her stripper name.” What had won over critics and the general public alike had lost its brand new charm.
A 2019 article by Buzzfeed on Lil Pump begins with the simple line: “Lil Pump can’t find his weed.” It would mark the beginning of the end. He was too big a kid in the middle of the second year crisis, a teenager with no one to say “no” to him. With no real purpose, a presumably misunderstood contract, and increasingly lackluster outings, Lil Pump was headed for a free fall into musical discouragement. Still, you have to wonder if the potential for longevity has ever been there. Did Lil Pump have a real chance of becoming an enduring celebrity, or was he a contemporary caricature of what rap had become?
The rapper “gave up” his music career in early 2020 in a dramatic Instagram story, but then returned to the scene in a considerably bizarre way – in support of then-President Donald Trump. He paid homage to the Donald’s with the song “Lil Pimp Big MAGA Steppin ‘”; however, the single was only released after the incumbent lost the 2020 election. Since then, Lil Pump has grown into a sold-out seller, now plugging in a shady cryptocurrency and sacrificing his integrity for the sake of it. attention from one of the country’s most controversial political figures. Gazzy Garcia, following the rhetoric established by Mr. Trump and his cohorts, waged war on wearing masks and earned a JetBlue ban in December 2020. Lil Pump’s desperate attempts to hang on to the relevance of years past have failed in epic proportions. The bizarre charisma that courted people had blunted to reveal nothing more than a washed-out, tattooed artist marking the end of his career.
In a way, the loss of Lil Pump shows his subgenre’s failure to create lasting stars. The “Soundcloud rap” category encompassed sounds ranging from the goth-punk influenced $ uicideboy $ to the trapper Ski Mask the Slump God, but the origin of these free streaming site artists linked them to a pseudo-genre: the pseudo-genre. represented by the smiley grids and colorful tattoos on Lil Pump’s face. Artists Lil Peep, XXXTentacion, and Juice Wrld stood alongside Pump as essential figures; After the deaths of the three, the failed career of Lil Pump marks the end of an era that was. Years later, we’ll reflect on the late 2010s and wonder what was the last nail in the coffin of South Florida-led underground rap. More likely than not, this nail will sport colorful dreads and a dusty MAGA hat, triumphantly fading into oblivion with a latest cry of “ESSKEETIT!”