Meet the New Übermensch: Lil Pump and the Will to Power

Photo courtesy of Nabil Elderkin

Unsurprisingly, Lil Pump's divergence from accepted social norms generates anger, but for similar reasons, he inspires his followers to mad devotion, as did Zarathustra. Nietzsche would have been delighted.

A practical and materialistic people, Americans care little for philosophers' idle musings. However, all generalizations admit exceptions, and no one overcomes Americans' intellectual apathy like Friedrich Nietzsche, an object of pop-culture obsession. Famously, The Sopranos' Anthony Jr. echoed Zarathustra's discovery: "God is dead!" To A.J., this meant he shouldn't be confirmed; to Nietzsche, it meant God, and His ethics, had lost pragmatic worth, necessitating new values. (Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883–85) Developing a new morality atop Christian society's smouldering ruins is an impossible task for a man -- but not for an Übermensch, who can productively confront and transcend the Death of God.

Last fall, chart-topping hit Gucci Gang catapulted 17-year old rapper Lil Pump, government name Gazzy Garcia, to a global fame belying this high-school dropout's humble origins as one of many indistinguishable, mumbling SoundCloud Rappers. Although Mr. Garcia may seem an unlikely harbinger of humanity's next evolutionary stage, a staggering concordance between Lil Pump's lifestyle and Nietzschean virtues leads to one simple, earth-shaking question: is Lil Pump the Übermensch?

"Gucci Gang"

Humans have two fundamental impulses: the rational, mechanical, and individuating Apollonian, and the emotional, organic, and unifying Dionysian. Ancient Greeks balanced these two drives to create magnificent art and vigorous societies, but this equilibrium was disrupted by Socrates, whose dialectic sidelined the Dionysian, a marginalization made permanent when Platonized Christianity conquered the world. This imbalance is now disastrous, for the unfettered Apollonian will rejects life, as evidenced by the willing martyrdoms of Socrates and Christ, and in a modern world without God and salvation, this leads inevitably to nihilism. Only the Übermensch and his new, Dionysian morality can fulfill The Birth of Tragedy's (1872) prophecy that "the age of Socratic man is past."

Few indulge their Bacchic impulse like Lil Pump. In "Crazy", Lil Pump raps "Jump in this b**** and go crazy, ooh (12x)," highlighting the Dionysian realities of creation's illogicality, humans' susceptibility to overpowering emotion and, symbolized here by Lil Pump's almost-tedious lyrical recursion, all things' eternal recurrence. Further proof of Lil Pump's Dionysian tendencies comes when Flex Like Ouu proclaims "Diamond on my wrist and it look like glue (2x)". This identification of diamonds with glue references the melding, unavoidable as we die and decay, of everything into oleaginous unity.


In his new release "I Shyne", Dionysian tendencies are blatant, Lil Pump rapping "Pop a bean, now her brain open / Right wrist so wet it look like the ocean / White girl gave me top, told her I had to focus / Lil Pump saved the rap game like a poet, woah". This reference to split human bodies coupled with natural and sexual imagery evokes the animalistic character of our sexual drives and nature's meaningless, irresistible violence against all organic forms. In the fourth line, Lil Pump's self-identification as a messianic poet reveals his remarkable historical sense. Pump is waging a counter-offensive against the Apollonian worldview of Socrates, boasting he has aided poetry in its "ancient quarrel" with philosophy, confronting Plato's denigration of poetry in The Republic.

"i Shyne"

In Thus Spake Zarathustra Nietzsche writes "brave, unconcerned, mocking, violent–thus wisdom wants us: she is a woman, and loves only a warrior," and Homer's Competition explained that "the greater and more sublime a Greek is, the brighter in him appears the ambitious flame." The Übermensch must embrace the honor culture and exude the burning ambition treasured by the warrior nobility of Archaic Greece or Viking-age Scandinavia, societies tailored for vigorous expressions of the Will to Power. Notable, then, is Lil Pump's embrace of a martial lifestyle, and his bold proclamations, and thus far fulfillment, of his wild ambition. Gazzy Garcia's ultimate aims are exhibited in two lines from "Broke My Wrist" reading "Lil Pump in the White House (ooh) / Made White House turn to a trap house (ooh)", his ambition so insatiable Lil Pump plans to occupy the seat of executive authority itself. Pump's warrior morality appears in "Where's the Blow", which declares "Diamonds, they white like a pillow, ooh (what, what?) / $ki Mask will hit you with missiles, d*** (*beep*)," continuing "Thirty-three shots to the vest, ooh (what, what?)" and "My chain be icy like glitter (glitter)"" ending "Lil Pump just calls up his hitters (ayy)".

Lil Pump's martial ethos is conveyed through strikingly Homeric language, with naturalistic metaphors alongside the violence characterizing his strife-ridden existence, linking him with the Iliad's heroes. Lil Pump is the supreme warrior surrounded by loyal companions, Smokepurpp the Patroclus to Pump's Achilles. This mythic heroism is reinforced in Lil Pump, Garcia rapping "AR-15 with Smith & Wesson (Smith & Wesson!) (ayy!)", Lil Pump's AR-15 paralleling Achilles' shield. These themes re-appear in "Designer", where Pump raps "Couple hoes up on a yacht, I can not f*** with the opps", continuing "Went to the gun store and I bought a rocket (ooh) / One million dollars, cash hangin' out my pocket (d***)". Lil Pump's all-consuming will to power and embrace of the warrior lifestyle is displayed with verses about his awe-inspiring tools of death and Croesan wealth, as is his rejection of mainstream authority, indicated by his dismissal of law enforcement officers.

Nietzsche notes the Übermensch must "create new values" that liberate humanity from enervated concepts like "Good", "Evil", and "Truth". Lil Pump, through his dedication to radical individuality, has begun to ready himself, and mankind, for this transvaluation of all values. His incisive originality is exhibited in "I Shyne", spitting "And they just mad 'cause I made my own sound (ooh) / Jump off the roof and my fans goin' wild". Unsurprisingly, Lil Pump's divergence from accepted social norms generates anger, but for similar reasons, he inspires his followers to mad devotion, as did Zarathustra. Similarly, Pump's single "Broke My Wrist" evidences his radical individuality when it announces he is the "trapper of da' century", proudly declaring his criminality. Nietzsche would have been delighted, for the criminal is "a natural human being" degraded by "our tame, mediocre, emasculated society", fearful of his strength and courage.

"Broke My Wrist"

Additionally, Lil Pump's new morality manifests through his flexible relationship with the truth. In repeated interviews, videos, and public appearances, Lil Pump has proclaimed "he dropped out of Harvard Medical to save the rap game", confusing those bound to a narrow conception of truth his affirmation cannot satisfy. Lil Pump's ambivalent relationship with the truth is also encountered in "Iced Out", which boasts "Dropped out 9th grade, dropped out straight to the Milwaukee Bucks / Could've been at Harvard servin' juugs, but I don't give a f***". It's irrelevant that Garcia never played for the Milwaukee Bucks nor served juugs at Harvard. Lil Pump apprehends, unlike the timid hoi polloi, Nietzsche's revelation "there are no facts, only interpretations".

Understanding that truth is a better means than it is an end, Lil Pump turns wild fabrications into lyrical and PR gold. His disregard for herd morality is further exemplified in "Broke My Wrist", stating "N**** mad at me 'cause they ain't got clout (clout) / F*** school, n****, I rather sell pounds (ooh)", contemptuously dismissing society's educational and judicial structures while also addressing his detractors' slavish ressentiment. His Nietzschean disgust for hieratic authority is displayed in "Where's the Blow", asserting"Bitch, one day I went to f***** church (went to f***** church!) / Pastor told me ''Boy, you off the purp'' (God d***!) (yah, yah!)", with Lil Pump denounced by the priestly class as the Übermensch must be.

Garcia's epochal socio-historical significance is affirmed by two congruities explicable only through Lil Pump's metaphysical prefiguration in Nietzsche's writing. Recall Nietzsche's contention "the philosopher dislikes marriage", and Pump's sentiments in Gucci Gang "I can't buy a b**** no wedding ring (ooh)". Next, consider Nietzsche's strange ambition "to have my lion and my eagle about me", then behold Lil Pump's mastery of the tiger that accompanies him during the Gucci Gang music video as he distributes pounds of marijuana through the halls of an elementary school.

"Some time, in a stronger age than this mouldy, self-doubting present, he will come to us", he who will "give earth its purpose", and "man his hope again". Now, 121 years after Nietzsche wrote that passage, I can no longer avoid the awesome and dreadful conclusion: the Übermensch is walking the Earth, and Lil Pump is he. Though few suspected the eschaton would be a codeine-sipping, rainbow-haired juvenile delinquent, all ought now recognize Gazzy Garcia for what he is: the future of mankind. We must blindly follow in Lil Pump's tiny footsteps, for they alone can lead us towards new values wherein we become new human beings. Our rallying cry shall echo through the hills, the world reborn to a single sound, millions in joyous unison screaming: ESKEDDDDDDDDDDDDIT!!!





In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.


Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.


Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.


Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.


Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.


'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.


Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.


From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.


Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.


Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.


Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.


That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.


Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.


Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.


Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.


'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.


Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.