This past year has proven to be a healthy one for hip-hop. Whether it was Kanye’s creative opus “Runaway,” Nicki Minaj’s legion of colorful wig-wearing barbies, Wayne’s constant cash flow (despite his temporary incarceration), or anything Waka Flocka did, 2010 has put rap music in relatively good shape. But regardless of all the innovative art and hilarity involved in the sporadic and unapologetic genre that is “rap music,” one can’t help but be a little bored. A true hip-hop fan knows that controversial antics are just as important as quality content—this is what separates hip-hop from every other style of music: it’s not just a sound, but a lifestyle. And in a time where many have seem to forgotten their artistic duty to both entertain and create, one man has risen above the rest in an effort to make hip-hop the polarizing pot of fascination that it once aimed to be. That man is none other than Lil’ B.
Though you may think you are only hearing of Lil B for the first time now, you’re probably familiar with his group, California collective The Pack, who are best known for their track “Vans,” which was named one of the “Best Songs of 2006″ by the immortal publication known as Rolling Stone. As the members of The Pack have drifted away from the limelight (along with their record contract—they were dropped and then recently picked up by Indie Pop, home of Dev and The Cataracs), Lil B’s eccentric ambition has kept has career afloat, and in a big way.
Never one to shy away from the power of the internet, the 20 year-old rapper has become a YouTube star via his consistently quick output of videos featuring his hilariously arrogant, oftentimes non-sensical flow (“Then I park my car, then I fuck your bitch“), absurdly awkward song titles (“Ellen Degeneres“, “I Look Like Hannah Montana“), and unexpectedly esoteric visuals (watch his commercial for “Sleep Forever“). With his newfound fame and co-signs from his frequent partner-in-crime Soulja Boy and lyrical mastermind Lupe Fiasco, the self-proclaimed rap version of Prince has caused quite a stir amongst the hip-hop community. Many have denounced Lil B’s rapidly growing notoriety as slap in the face to the “artistic integrity” of hip-hop—look no further than the comment section of your favorite rap blog to observe an outpour of insults and criticism aimed at Mr. Based God.
Yet, amongst all the scrutiny, many have embraced the rapper’s persona, praising his genius as legendary and prolific. The rap world has not seen such an array of opinions on one artist in what seems like decades, and with Lil B having released hundreds song in 2010 alone, a Twitter following exceeding 100,000, and more media attention then any artist could ask for, it seems the enigmatic Californian won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. So, while he’s here, let’s ask a question that (strangely) many seem to look past: What makes Lil B so great? Well, we here at URB have taken the liberty of breaking it down so that even the newest Lil B fan (or hater) can understand what is making the BasedGod’s star rise at such a rapid pace.
1) The Based God persona:
Lil B’s fans oftentimes refer to him by his pseudonym “Based God”. Being based is normally an insult, meaning that someone is slow or stupid (basic). But Lil B has taken this term and flipped it to describe his rhyming scheme, which is subconsciously organic and without much preparation. This is a big part of Lil B’s allure: His words are as outrageously sporadic as they are signature—no rapper in their right (or wrong) mind is spitting the same way as the Based God, but this gives the rapper the power to say whatever whenever with generally no harm or foul—With rhymes like “DRAKE SAID HE DIDN’T CRY WHEN 2PAC DIED I BET DUB HE WOULDN’T SAY THAT !! IF PAC WAS ALIVE,” Lil B’s style style is always quotable and hardly forgettable.
2) His social networking
Lil B has learned to use the internet as his main promoter, arguably more than any other artist around. The man has 125 accounts on MySpace, 400+ tracks on the internet, and nearly 5000 friends on Facebook (which is the limit). He’s always been one to embrace his fans, oftentimes following those who quote him on Twitter, and posting videos of fans rapping or dancing to Lil B songs on his Facebook. With his strong willingness to communicate with others, something many artists shy away from or rarely do, Lil B’s fanbase has expanded rapidly, his fans embracing his style and frequently mirroring it via their own social networks (search the word Based on Twitter and Facebook and see how many users have included it in their name..you’ll be blown away).
As if Lil B hasn’t done enough to grab people’s attention, he’s also popularized a dance he crafted called “Cooking,” which can best be described as miming the steps you would take in order to cook something. The dance has spawned thousands of YouTube videos, with even the likes of hip-hop heavyweights like Young Jeezy and Diddy referencing the new craze. Where other dances have failed in creating longevity, “Cooking” has intricacies and rules (there are different levels of culinary skill,—Lil B is a master chef—even if it is a woman, you have to say “let that boy cook”—if you say “let that woman cook,” it’s a sign of disrespect) that seem to be providing it with some intense longevity.
4) He’s earnest
Arguably the most important part of Lil B’s persona is that he actually seems to care about his music. Where contemporaries like Waka Flocka and Gucci may ruthlessly throw around rhymes and beats in order to pump out one sure-fire hit after another, Lil B has an apparent dedication to his craft. In interviews, Lil B seems to want people to understand him to an extent—he’s always more than willing to explain the complexities of his character the best he knows how, and seems completely humbled by those in the industry who have love for him. Despite his humility, Lil B has a confidence in regards to his skill that hasn’t been seen since the likes of Kanye West (who Lil B recently chewed out, after which he apologized). But even though he does believe he could have had the best verse on Kanye’s “Monster,” Lil B is always one to give respect to his colleagues and count his blessings, which only broadens his appeal.
How long Lil B’s based reign will last is yet to be determined, but one thing is definite: Whether you’re hating him or loving him, you’ll sure as hell be watching him.