I'm Gay (I'm Happy)
*Author’s Note: Strangely enough, the iTunes version and the free mediafire download (shared by Lil B himself) seem to have two different orders for their track listings. This review applies to the song order of the mediafire version. And for the record, if our rating system permitted it, I would give this album a 3.75, not a 3.5.*
Before anything else, let us answer the question that is on everybody’s mind: no. No, this is not the worst thing you will ever hear. In fact, it is far from it. Lil B has been one of the most loved and hated figures in hip-hop for a couple of years now (due to such songs as “Pretty Bitch” coupled with a seemingly eternal endorsement of “swag”) and it seemed like with every new release, the bar was being set lower and lower. Sorry world, we have been had. While I’m Gay (I’m Happy) is not a perfect album and will probably not be your new favorite rap album of all time, it is a very necessary release. On the first track “Trapped in Prison,” B analyzes black society/global society by discussing/mentioning mental slavery, poverty and the solution being as simple as peace. Along with subdued guitars and bongos, this is definitely not something that anybody was expecting from him. Who could have ever known that the same man who garnered fame from such lines as “Hoes on my dick ’cause I look like Jesus,” would have one day uttered, “No sir, I don’t believe in Jesus” on “Open Thunder Eternal Slumber.” The production on the album is quite solid; nothing too different or mind-blowing, but Lil B actually feels at home over the smooth boom-bappiness of it all (as should the listener).
The biggest issue with the album are the rhymes, but probably not in the way that most people expect. The songs on I’m Gay are not complexly written and chock full of other-worldly rhyme schemes, patterns or metaphors. Truth be told, it sounds like a big portion of most, if not all, of the tracks were done off the top of the head- sounding a little sloppy at times in the process. Is this the best thing to have on an album? Not particularly. However, the fact that B displays both impressive lines (such as “…that’s left from a woman, ’cause the death of a woman/ Means one less man, so give respect to the woman” on the track “My Last Chance”) and themes (see “I Hate Myself,” where he is at his most vulnerable) is both surprising and undeniable. This album is really about two things: the plight/struggle of many people today (himself included) and positivity. The former might surprise people the most, but it is definitely the latter that makes B’s album such an important one. He undoubtedly has a very large, very young fan base, so the fact that he promotes peace, love and unity on just about the entire project speaks volumes. In this way, he has more in common with KRS-ONE and the “Zulu Nation” of hip-hop’s yore than nearly any popular recording rap artist. Before stabbing yourself at reading this (or wanting to stab the author), stick with me. Was his plan bait-and-switch from day one? It sure looks that way.
On “Game,” he states bluntly that, “Of course I must be dumb/ How’d I get this far?/ I must be real wack/ How’d I get this car?” Is Lil B a gimmick rapper? Absolutely. And that is not to be meant in a negative or demeaning way either. Both the ridiculous songs, youtube videos and even the title of I’m Gay (I’m Happy) are gimmicks in their own right but the reasons behind them are valid. In our world, true art is scarce and evidence of true talent getting as many youtube hits, internet downloads, or reward as something laughably horrible is even more scarce. B knew that being really “bad” could be really “good” for a career in music. Unfortunately, he has definitely paid for it, seeing as how he seems to receive a new death threat every few minutes. For what? Associating the word “gay” with hip-hop? Or for leading people to believe that he was that horrible, because he was smart enough to play the odds? At the end of the day, I’m Gay (I’m Happy) proves that he is a much better artist (and role model) than anyone was led to believe. The fact that he had to trick people into seeing that? Let’s just hope that instead of making him the villain, we have enough sense to ask ourselves and our society why we subscribe to shit so much more passionately or readily than anything created by true talent, heart, love and honesty.