Let me start by saying this: I’m nobody. And I know it. I’m just a dude who’s had a love affair with hip-hop for over 25 years now…damn, I’m old. Maybe that’s the reason I just don’t get Brandon McCartney. Every time I hear a song/see yet another self-directed video/read a writer-who-I-respect’s decree of why I should be paying attention to Lil B, I’m left shaking my head like an old man watching some bad ass kids misbehaving.
I’ve also never had the opportunity to bask in the glow of the Based God. Because of that, I don’t claim to have any specific insight into his thinking, or lack thereof. However, after first seeing “Wonton Soup” included in Complex Magazine’s top 25 songs of 2010, and then reading the well-crafted, well-researched article by Andrew Noz on the NPR blog, I just had to get my thoughts out on Mr. Degeneres.
Back in the day, Cocaine Blunts was the first blog I ever latched onto, so with a full dose of appreciation and respect, I promised myself I’d read his article with an open mind – which I did. To say I was impressed with the examples Mr. Noz posted would be an understatement. Many of those songs, I had not heard, and they showed a side I hadn’t seen. Needless to say, these examples threw some of my pre-conceived notions into a moderate tailspin; is Lil B really the second coming of Tupac Shakur, or a second cousin of Eli Porter? I’m still leaning toward the latter.
The contradiction in B’s subject matter implies more of an air of ignorance than complexity to me - mostly because of the absolute extremes of that contradiction; I understand sarcasm and irony, I just don’t know Lil B deserves that much credit. I mean, the “’Cooking Dance’ How-To Video” is hilarious – and the occasional smirk would seem to indicate he’s clownin’. But, there are a million minions out there trying to become “Master Chefs,” and they ain’t all playin’ with a full set of spatulas.
That’s one of the things that is truly befuddling to me: He has a rabid following…then again, so did Charles Manson. I’m not trying to say that the Young Based God is Manson – or even needs to be a role model, for that matter – but the love and dedication these “Chefs” show the self-proclaimed “princess” is staggering to me. I mean, what’s the real draw? What is it that has propelled Lil B to cult icon status?
I appreciate the counter-culture movement…used to take pride in that myself. That Reading Rainbow t-shirt? Fucking. Awesome. I also respect the way he’s harnessed the power of the internet – nobody uses it to his advantage like B does. From a large Twitter following, to the “ten million YouTube,” this “artist” – unsigned, no less – has really carved quite a niche for himself; he’s made, what I would deem, the mostly irrelevant, relevant…all by himself. For that, I tip my fitted.
But why is Based considered to be so cool? Why reward something so…lazy? Half the time it’s just bad freestyling that isn’t even worth remembering – as evidenced by the way the Based God himself can barely remember his own lines in most of the videos he directs (even the fucking chorus in many cases). And going off beat can work for added emphasis…on occasion. Consistently ignoring your beat for the sake of ignoring it just doesn’t work for me, though.
It’s also possible that I’m just not meant to understand some of the esoteric, monotonous, rambling-flow Lil B brandishes. Maybe I’m just not the target audience. That’s cool. Not everybody has to like everything out there. Case in point: “Like a G6”…although I can’t figure out why ANYBODY likes that piece of shit (and yes, it still gets play on the radio around here…fml).
Then again, maybe I am the target audience. If the Based God is really trying to rebel against the old guard of hip-hop, if his intent is to give the finger to the ideas and ideals of the culture that the golden era – and those before it – created, then right now I’m getting the bird.
Look, I’m not hating. I don’t think Lil B is anything like the Far East Movement. It’s just crazy to me how many people in-the-know seem to think he’s such an important figure, likening him to some of the greatest. And I realize that Noz was only using Tupac as a reference point; I think it was a comparison for the sake of argument more than anything. In reality, for every “Age of Information” (which is his best cut IMO), there’s at least fifteen “Wonton Soup”’s. However, for every “I Get Around”, there’s twenty “Dear Momma”’s and “Brenda’s Got a Baby”’s – I think we can all agree that the comparison really begins and ends at each thumbing their nose at society’s stereotypes; one with more purpose than the other, of course.
Maybe I’m just not approaching Lil B’s vast catalogue correctly. Maybe I’m supposed to be laughing. Maybe that’s why he did “Hoes On My Dick” with Andy Milonakis. But for every slight snicker I get from shit like that, there’s a sneer right behind it, caused by blatantly bad lyrics…lazy delivery…”directing” himself to rap to his shadow on a wall in a video…insisting on signing his name on every tweet (we know who it is, dog)…the list goes on.
Of course, the simple fact that I spent all of this time researching, listening, and writing this column lends credence to those that continually claim Lil B’s relevance cannot be overlooked. For that, kudos to them. However, while I’m always willing to give credit where credit is due, I won’t give it where I don’t feel it’s deserved. Thanks, but no thanks, Based God - I’m just not ready to put my 25-year history of love for this culture (however inconsequential) in your corner…no matter how much I dig that “Reading Rainbow” shirt.
–catch91 (in case you didn’t know)