Introducing XXL Freshman Lil B
Gov’t Name: Brandon McCartney
Reppin’: Berkeley, California
Notable Releases: Singles: “Vans,” with The Pack, 2006, “Pretty Boy,” 2009, “I’m Miley Cyrus” and “Wonton Soup,” both 2010; Mixtapes: Pretty Boy Millionaires and Blue Flame, both 2010; Independent Album: Angels Exodus (Amalgam Digital), 2010
Currently Working On: BASEDWORLD feature-length film, due summer 2011; Glassface, his last indie album on Amalgam Digital, due later 2011; a whole bunch of mixtapes
Label: Amalgam Digital
Aligned With: Soulja Boy
Side Hustle: Wrote his own book Takin’ Over (Kele Publishing), 2010; directs and edits his music videos, makes his own beats; shoots his own photos (sometimes)
On Being a 2011 XXL Freshman: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard that I was a part [of the Freshmen]. It feels amazing to be appreciated and very humbling to be selected out of the millions of people, billions of people nowadays. How many people are on Earth? And [also, out of] all the artists that are working hard and that are, you know, fresh… I will be here forever. I want [people to] compare me to something like Bob Dylan, somebody that will last forever, like Prince. I’m setting up to be more than just an artist. It’s about the message, the core message that I represent. That’s spreading peace and positivity. And bringing people closer together and breaking down barriers of judgment. It’s really deeper than just being a rapper.
When I got the freshmen call I was at home on the Internet as always, and I got a call from my friend and he told me, ‘Man, XXL wanna have you [as a] freshmen.’ I couldn’t believe it when I heard that I was a part of it. It was an honor. It’s a big accomplishment for me to be working so hard, [and] it feels amazing to be appreciated; and very humbling… You know what’s funny is I made a video [last year] called ‘XXL Freshmen 2010,’ [so] it feels amazing that I was chosen.
I definitely celebrated and just took it in. It’s like getting an award. [It’s] one of the biggest things you can get as a rap artist, especially coming into the game.
I feel like I’m an O.G. in the game, but also I’m fresh, so this is me, new. You know I’ve seen some stuff. This is me, [the] new Lil B to the world. [I’m a] baby O.G. you know, just [because of] experience, not even being old, just experience and going through stuff and seeing stuff and working so hard. I work hard so I feel old.
It’s a bunch of situations that made me who I am today. I made mistakes when I was younger. I did some unnecessary stuff to people when I was younger just to try to know myself. Growing up as a child [I learned] how I want to treat people and how I want to be treated, and you know experiencing pain. That’s why I really wanted to push and press. Those people practiced forgiveness at that young age, when I was younger. I’m glad that I’m happy now. I can say on an honest thing, I know what it means to be happy. I know what it’s like to really be like I feel that shit, like I’m happy, and I wanna spread into hip-hop more happiness and love and like being yourself.
[Wearing my worn-out Vans on the cover] was just a patent of myself and just patent to being real. I don’t need no shoes. I don’t need anything that anybody else uses just for them to be cool, or for them to be accepted, or for them to be loved. I gonna strip it all down. I’ma strip it all to myself, and I’ma do me and I know people gonna love me for me. [My shoes] are just a representation of the struggle; it’s a representation of the hood; it’s a representation of the fight. That’s what those shoes represent, and I’m not gonna get out of those shoes.
[I got to this point] just growing up listening to the radio, recording stuff off of the radio, seeing the rappers on TV [and] music videos. I used to watch CMC and The Box all day, just seeing music videos, and loving music in general. I just love all kinds of music over everything. Rap, pop, everything. I was just a music kid, and it was great I got a chance to see both worlds. I got to be in the hood and love Backstreet Boys, and have the Backstreet Boys video. It was great I got to get the best of both worlds. That’s why I’m the kind of artist that I am right now. I was loving rap and I still was a big Spice Girls and N’Sync fan when they first hit. [I] listened to Hanson “MMMBop,” and you know I could turn on that 2Pac, you feel me?”
FOR MORE ON THE 2011 FRESHMEN COP THE APRIL ISSUE OF XXL ON SALE MARCH 15.