The Complete Guide to Understanding Lil B
How does one explain God? How does one explain faith? How does one explain Limp Bizkit's cover of George Michael's "Faith?" The answer, of course, is you cannot explain that which is ineffable, and also Fred Durst is playing at a club in Long
Island tonight. Either way, the equally ineffable Lil B is playing the after party of our 4Knots Fesival, so in case you're uninitiated and want a primer on the Based God in all of his considerable glory, we have just what the Based Doctor ordered.
Who is Lil B? Where did he come from? What kind of grades did he get in school? We
can answer two of those questions. Lil B was born Brandon McCartney in Berkeley,
California, and was discovered by Too $hort with his group The Pack. They had that
song "Vans," which you were probably at least vaguely aware of if you were a high schooler in 2006. If you haven't listened to it before, it's pretty a pretty fucking great slice of homemade pop-rap, and the YouTube video for it is literally right above this paragraph so you don't really have an excuse not to familiarize yourself with it. Anyways, shortly after The Pack rose to (momentary) national prominence, Lil B took to MySpace, creating page after page and releasing track after track, getting weirder and more unhinged by the day, assuming the lyrical guise of nerds, college bros, the captain of a starship (a personal favorite), and rapping about pretty much
everything. What you had was a young, creative rapper hermetically sealing himself in the Internet, and emerging a nearly completely-unrecognizable entity with his own world, slang, and philosophy.
Based Discography Primer
It's safe to assume that Lil B has recorded more songs than most of us have thought
thoughts. As of this writing, Lil B easily has over 75 mixtapes, as well as two semi-
legit several hundred-song compilations, one of his collected MySpace works clocked in at nearly 700 tracks, and one of 855 of his Based Freestyles. The MySpace files are essential listening in order to understand B's weirdness and monk-like progression into the rawest rapper alive, and the Based Freestyle collection is strictly for advanced listeners, because while it's interesting on an academic level to free-associate 855 songs in a row, it actually gets pretty boring pretty quickly to sift through a bunch of Based Freestyles searching for something brilliant. This is the Internet, however, so the a compilation was assembled by Noz on Cocaine Blunts of some of the really good ones. As for the mixtapes themselves, B's mixtape titles are cryptic and never really let you know what you're getting, but if you listen to enough Lil B you can kind of guess--another safe bet is to stick to ones in the "Flame" series, as they generally follow the same template. Newcomers should listen to the albums 6 Kiss and I'm Gay (I'm Happy), as well as the tapes God's Father, and Blue Flame first, because those tend to have more good songs than bad and are a pretty good cross-section of Lil B as a rap artist, and Blue Flame has "Wonton Soup" on it which is the closest thing B has to a single defining song. At the risk of enraging the Task Force for getting this wrong, B's tracks divide into roughly four categories...
1) Lore Songs (where he perpetuates the hazy narrative/cult of personality he's developed by laying out rules and regulations and vague hints at a BasedGod narrative and/or explains why he is like a certain celebrity).
2) Tributes/Works of Pastiche (it's obvious that Lil B really, really, really loves hip-hop and likes to explore pre-established forms while subtly stretching and tweaking them, making us question why those forms exist in the first place).
3) Cooking Songs (aggressive songs in which he yells "SWAG" and "WOOP" more than usual).
4) Nuggets of Motivation and Wisdom (like any deity, the BasedGod must inspire his followers in very overt ways). In a sense, all of Lil B's songs are Based Freestyles in that he's just going off the dome when he records, but a true Based Freestyle bucks traditional song structure and finds B saying whatever's on his mind. If for some reason you aren't immediately drawn into Lil B's music, try listening to him for five hours in a row. After that, you'll understand that he's way better than anything else you could be putting into your ears and it was you who was incorrect, not Lil B. In addition to strict hip-hop, Lil B has released two classical albums, one ambient spoken word album, keeps threatening to release a rock album (the single is called "California Boy" and it sounds like the band Girls, only better), and has released one really annoying song with his cat that we're not going to link to because we hate it.
Based Key Terms
Okay, so if you're completely unfamiliar with Lil B aside from The Pack's "Vans"
or even "Wonton Soup" you might have noticed that we were using a bunch of terms
that might be unfamiliar to the non-Based. One of the beauties of B is that he can
flip words in a way that has a meaningful impact on culture. "Based" is the most
important one, so it gets its own section, but here are a few other Lil B key terms...
Rare: In Lil B-land, "this is so rare" can mean something as simple as "I find this vaguely positive." B, however, terms his mixtapes and songs rare, which, much like the process of enjoying Lil B, makes you sit back and think for a second. Lil B has a
gazillion songs, so Lil B's music isn't rare, right? WRONG, FRIENDO. Since there are so many Lil B songs out there, the individual tracks themselves are rare since no two are alike, much like snowflakes or even human beings themselves. Most of this can also go for the word "Legendary."
Swag: Lil B also brought "swag" back from the brink of whatever gulch hip-hop terms go to die. He yells this a lot in succession, and just like "rare," it too can be
used as a term of general approval.
Cooking/Cooking Dance: When you're cooking, you're eating. It's that simple, except absolutely not at all. Lil B invented the "Cooking Dance," which is literally a dance where you cook rhythmically to the music that has infected hip-hop culture because
it is easy and fun. It has sort of evolved into the "Invisible Pull-Ups" dance that people do a rap shows, which is also a great dance. You can find an instructional video on how to cook here. The best music to cook to is always Lil B, and the best Lil B songs to cook to are always the ones labeled "Cooking Music" on YouTube. When you say, "Let that boy/ girl cook!" you mean, "Let that person do their thing!"
Tiny Pants: Lil B wears tiny pants and tiny shirts because he is a fashion icon. He also is dedicated to wearing the same beat-up pair of Vans until he makes a million dollars, which is really admirable, and also means his feet probably smell absolutely terrible.
BasedWorld and Bitch Mob: As this Pitchfork piece attests , Lil B's fans are the most rabid in the world. To be a member of BasedWorld, your heart must be true, you must spend a bunch of time on the Internet, and you must like Lil B's music a lot. Lil B fans are the Bitch Mob. Bitch Mob is also a several-person rap group, of which Lil B is the only member. Don't worry, you are the one who is confused, not Lil B.
Task Force: A group of only the most elite Bitch Mob members whose job it is to protect Lil B at all costs. This mainly means commenting on every single Lil B YouTube video and defending him on the Internet. The Task Force is infinitely more awesome than Beliebers.
On the next page: Based Philosophy, Based Meme Status, Based Influence, and Based Social Media.