2019 Year-End Charts

Lil Pump Owns the Night With Epic Concert at New York City's Playstation Theater

Rick Kern/WireImage
 Lil Pump performs in 2017.

Lil Pump is a 17-year-old rapper from Miami who apparently just graduated from Harvard Business School. Or maybe he’s just good at trolling.

“Pass me that Harvard shirt!” he said to a fan Tuesday night at New York’s PlayStation Theater. “Bitch, I’m a Harvard dropout!”

When the beat dropped to Lil Pump and Smokepurpp’s “What You Gotta Say,” it was one of many displays of hyperactivity. People from the balcony shook water bottles, splashing down to the floor below like raindrops. The rapper’s next song, “Boss,” was heightened with confetti and theatrical smoke, hyping the crowd more and encouraging everyone to get their Snaps and Instastories in. “Open that pit up” was Pump’s phrase of the night; he wanted to be in on the action. And his fans welcomed him by keeping their spirits high.

If you’re someone who hates the existence of mumble rap, a trendy term to describe artists who rely on basic lyrics and ad-libs over understandable rhymes, you may never want to see Lil Pump live. But like other SoundCloud rappers whose streaming performances equate to Billboard Hot 100 entries, he is the most visible artist with an upward trajectory. His biggest hit, “Gucci Gang,” with over 65 million SoundCloud streams, peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100, while his self-titled album entered No. 2 on both Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Album charts (dated Oct. 28), with 46,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Oct. 12.

The numbers alone should prove that Lil Pump (real name Gazzy Garcia) is a developing success story, or at least, a teenager who knows how to stay in the conversation. He’s been scrutinized by the hip-hop community as the antithesis of “real hip-hop,” parodied in an SNL sketch by Chance the Rapper titled “Rap History” and challenged by Joyner Lucas, who freestyled about the rap game’s glorification of drug consumption over “Gucci Gang.” When Big Sean dropped his collaborative album with Metro Boomin, Double or Nothing, Rap Twitter argued about the Detroit rapper’s questionable lyrics, comparing them to Pump’s lack of bars in his songs.

Despite criticisms about his existence in the culture, Pump’s fans still sold out the mid-size venue Tuesday night. Mostly consisting of teens and 20-somethings, there were plenty of moments where Lil Pump chants would break out or someone would scream “Esketit!” – his way of saying “Let’s get it.” The crowd’s mood often switched from excitement to restlessness after the amount of openers dragged on to delay the arrival of their colorful star. Especially after a respectable set by Staten Island’s Lou the Human with fellow native Squidnice as his hypeman and a surprise appearance by 1017 Records’ Lil Wop, those were unappreciated by a room who strictly wanted to turn up.

And who could blame them? DJs who played songs by A$AP Ferg, YBN Nahmir, 6ix9ine, Rich Chigga, Rich the Kid, 21 Savage, Migos, and Chief Keef, as well as tributes to Lil Peep – one was “Benz Truck” and the other “Awful Things," which his producer Big Head introduced – brought the energy to an appropriate level for Pump to finally come out. He opened with “Crazy” – “Ouu” ad-libs and all – and continued to feed the chaotic atmosphere with “Broke My Wrist” and “Lil Pump.” The thing with a Lil Pump show is that there shouldn’t be much thought into why you’re here. It’s meant to be fun and entertaining, a reason for attendees to blow off steam after a long day. You want to mosh to “D Rose” and scream the lyrics to “Iced Out?” Pump’s down for it.

But while his performance was no way polished or perfected yet, he seems to enjoy acting on impulse. During “Iced Out,” he hopped on his security’s shoulders, maneuvering from the left of the stage to the balcony. “New York, I fucking love y’all energy tonight. Y’all ready to go crazy right now?” he says from up top. “New York, when I say ‘Gucci,’ y’all say ‘Gang’!”

After leaping into the crowd, “Gucci Gang” indeed got the crowd so crazy that he ran it back again. The second performance was louder, if that were even possible. He wrapped his performance with “Boss” again, sending them to pandemonium before saying his goodbyes.

In that moment, a song that’s under two minutes that can produce such a reaction is telling of hip-hop in 2017. No matter what side of the spectrum you operate on (lyricism vs. mumble rap), there’s a lane for everyone. Even if that someone has blonde and pink dreads with braces on his teeth, heavily favored among the youth, and who can throw one hell of party.


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