Part of the intrigue of Lil Pump’s earliest work was figuring out how much of his music was meant to be satirical. Many internet commentators felt that Pump had to be some sort of joke — a human being couldn’t possibly be this stupid, but YouTube clips of Pump attempting to do basic math seemed to say otherwise. To pull off successful satire you must create a sense of uncertainty of whether or not the work in question is self-serious or self-aware. At this point, however, the captivation Lil Pump once held over audiences has mostly dissipated, and Lil Pump 2 only serves to demonstrate that perhaps Pump never really had a full grasp of what he was doing in the first place.
The humor (it’s hard to call much of it satire at this point) on Lil Pump 2 is especially hit or miss, and often hinges on misogyny. There’s no humor or shock value when Pump raps about smacking his baby mama or dosing a woman with 2C-B — it’s simply misogyny for the sake of misogyny. Even the odd non-sequiturs that succeed in their humor to some degree (“she sellin’ pussy on Amazon”) are softened by following them up with lazy bars (“I fuck on your bitch with her tampon on.”) It used to be a bit easier to excuse stuff like this as coming from the mind of an actual child considering Pump wasn’t old enough to have a driver’s license when he first started popping on SoundCloud, but it only gets more and more tired as he continues to age further into his twenties.
Though his lyrical content hasn’t progressed much, Pump’s sound has strayed away from his lo-fi SoundCloud roots to varying degrees of success. It’s nice to hear Pump go out of his comfort zone a little bit, but whether or not it works often depends on if he’s able to match the energy provided by the featured artists. For example, he takes a more melodic approach to the NBA YoungBoy-assisted “I Don’t Mind” and it ends up being perhaps the best song on the album. Wistful ballads are YoungBoy’s wheelhouse, but Pump meshes surprisingly well with him despite not having very many songs like this in his catalog. On the flip side, Pump’s foray into R&B on “She Know” flops as he’s brazenly outshined by Ty Dolla $ign.
Pump delves into zany Michigan-style punchline rap on “No Hook,” where he tries to go bar-for-bar with Rio Da Yung Og. While Pump’s raps are lively with a few amusing bars (“Hold up, I’m finna call the ambulance/I called the plug by mistake, damn, I’m out of it”), Rio has the home court advantage. It highlights how Rio’s leagues ahead of Pump, with lines about packing blunts in his survival kit, and almost drowning for his drank after his girl threw it in the pool. Though Rio is the obvious standout of the song, it’s still a nice change of pace to hear Pump collaborate with artists outside his normal camp.
Speaking of which, does anyone even want more Lil Pump and Smokepurpp collabs at this point? They had obvious chemistry back in the SoundCloud days, but it no longer feels like they’re having fun making music together at this point (go run back “Ignorant” and then listen to “Tesla” or “Til I See You” and you’ll instantly see the difference). Likewise, “Pump Rock x Heavy Metal” feels forced in a way Pump’s early songs with a more punk or hard rock aesthetic never did. “Swipe” and “Mosh Pit,” on the other hand, are a nice respite near the end of the album, both having the type of hard-hitting, glitchier production Pump has excelled over for most of his career. But even on “Swipe,” it feels like most of the song is ceded to Staten Island duo G4 Boyz, continuing the recurring theme where Pump gets outshined by the guests.
Pump has always been a singles artist first and foremost, with his tapes feeling more like compilation mixtapes rather than albums. But there’s no “Gucci Gang,” or “D Rose” or “Flex Like Ouu” on Lil Pump 2. His best work tends to be energetic, zany, and a bit funny, but LP2 is rarely able to strike a meaningful balance between these three aspects. Whereas his older music was able to capture those characteristics in a way that felt organic, it now feels like he’s simply going through the motions without any sort of chemistry between artists, producers, and engineers naturally taking the reins in a studio session. There’s a reason his most known collab was with clickbait YouTube stars the Dobre Brothers.
Despite a handful of moments where he briefly recaptures the magic of 2017 SoundCloud rap, we’re mostly left with tired trap tropes and verses that feel like they were written with a ChatGPT prompt.