Is Lil Pump the Best Gucci Obsessive in the World?
The Soundcloud rapper's infatuation with Gucci is the punkest thing happening in fashion right now.
Photograph by Jerritt Clark for Getty Images.
Is there a more important song in the world right now than Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang”? The Soundcloud rap hit climbing up the Billboard Hot 100—currently at 7, up from 14 last week—is just over 2 minutes of lyrics that I recommend you hear rather than read here, save for the infectious fashion incantation that is its chorus: “Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang (Gucci gang).”
Those for whom “chiaroscuro” is a more ready association with Gucci than “ESKETIT” may be wondering about the details of the relationship between a 17-year-old rapper from Florida and the nearly century-old Italian luxury house. “Gucci gang is me and Pump, and like our other homies that be rapping from like Florida,” Smokepurpp, Pump’s best friend and fellow rapper, told Noisey this past summer. “And we just mad ignorant.” Pump added, “Mad ignorant.” That brash attitude and standoffish humor are part of what’s made Pump and Purpp punk idols for a new generation, snarling in streetwear rather than safety pinned-tees as the South Florida exporters of a recent explosion of sludgy, lightening-short rap anthems. “The aesthetic is high-end streetwear meets high fashion, with face tattoos, hair dyed in wild colors and a prescription-drug ooze,” wrote the New York Times in June. “The music is low-fidelity and insistent, throbbing with distorted bass, like trap music reduced over a hot fire to its rawest component parts.”
“Gucci Gang”—both the song, which is Pump’s biggest hit yet, and the duo—is no indication of a formal relationship with the fashion house, which has dressed musicians from Harry Styles to A$AP Rocky; when asked about the song, the house said it had no comment.
But while the song’s music video, released late last month, isn’t the fashion feast for the eyes that, say, Beyoncé’s collaboration with Marni Senofonte brought us in Lemonade, or that Misa Hylton created with Lil Kim, it’s Gucci, alright. Pump gets out of a Lamborghini in a high school parking lot (a banner on the building reads “Gucci Gang High” in graffiti) wearing Gucci’s FW 2017 baby-blue bomber with the house’s signature tiger motif appliqued on the shoulders and back. He hangs out in the lunch yard in a black Gucci zip-up jacket with a tiger crest. And he walks through the school halls in a metallic silver Gucci leather bomber, alongside an actual tiger. (Which is a great lesson: either wear a tiger or walk with one.) He even went so far as to dye his hair Gucci red and green for the video. Pump also has a tattoo of the house’s interlocking G’s logo across his chest, and wore the brand’s roaring tiger-motif sweater, along with a logo-print messenger bag, at his 17th birthday party in August (and yes, that is a cake shaped like a bar of Xanax):
Pump’s adoration for the brand is arguably unrivaled, particularly as it comes from pure fandom rather than any kind of economic partnership, but for those who know Gucci through the 70s-ish dream world conjured by brand reps like Petra Collins and Hari Nef, it’s perhaps not the gender-bending mishmash of retro and Renaissance they’re used to seeing. While rappers' taste for Gucci's bombers and sneakers is well documented in their music, none has issued so wholehearted a dedication to the brand, and besides, that taste for Gucci's athleisure offerings is usually accompanied by a lust for luxury labels with a more heavy-handed streetwear influence, such as Balenciaga, Off-White, or, as A$AP Mob memorably paid tribute in another single-designer ode this past summer, Raf Simons.
Gucci, perhaps more than any other luxury brand right now, is a universe, with established muses and codes, brand representatives and references. Its aesthetic is comprehensive— a message dictated, it often seems, directly from the house, on items from accessories to home goods, and which extends to those who wear it (remember how garish Kellyanne Conway looked in the brand’s coat?). At the verge of sounding like someone with lollipops for brains: Gucci is almost its own language. Does it matter if Pump is speaking it?
Brands and celebrities haven’t always had a fluid relationship, of course: take Cardi B’s obsession with Louboutins, which sits at the front of her monster hit “Bodak Yellow” (“These expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes”), and caused searches for the brand to spike 217% since June. But when asked about the rapper by the Times, the shoe designer indicated he wasn’t as familiar with the rapper as she obviously is with him: “‘She has the hair like that?’ he said, waving his hands around chin level. ‘She’s a rapper? This ‘Yellow’ song?’ A friend had played it for him recently, showing him the lyrics; he has seen the video. ‘I don’t know much more than that, to be honest,’ he said.”
But Pump’s relationship to Gucci seems more about an infatuation with the biggest, luxest brand out there—a desire to flex the cash that comes with a smash hit lifestyle—than anything else. If Balenciaga and Off-White are "cooler," Gucci, with its ever-present logos, rich fabrics, and long history of desire in hip-hop, remains more opulent. And it’s always a little fun when high fashion clothing slithers out of a designer’s highly-evolved aesthetic. In a world in which too many celebrities are wearing things at the behest of a larger branded entity, Pump’s grinning, indecent embrace of Gucci seems like the punkest way to get dressed.