In Defense of Lil B
Despite his dwindling buzz, Lil B still continues to release project after project after project. His latest mixtape, Green Flame surfaced last Friday, adding another color to his ongoing Flame mixtape series. The 19-trak ‘tape has B donning his usual, offbeat and nonsensical approach to music. While many rap fans are genuinely weirded by B’s actions, his Based God viral movement proved the young Cali rapper’s undeniably strong fan base. XXL‘s contributor Martin Spasov is a self-proclaimed Lil B fan, who has for the longest time expressed his adulation for the Based God. Here, in an open letter to Lil B, his supporters, and those that aren’t his fans, Mr. Spasov discusses the importance of Lil B and his continuously evolving movement.
Remember when most people used to hate Lil B passionately? Back in 2010, when he was first emerging as a solo artist and most reactions went like, “Lil B is a terrible rapper, he can’t even stay on beat?” I remember, because that was my first reaction as well. Who is this tiny-shirt-wearing man and why does he refuse to flow like normal rappers do? Nowadays this argument has become a dead horse. It’s common knowledge that Lil B can rap normally whenever he wants to—check out his XXL freestyle cipher and look at Yelawolf’s expression when Lil B murders that beat with a perfectly in-sync flow—and most people who used to ridicule him have jumped on the Lil B bandwagon. I like to think that it’s because, like me, most people have realized that Lil B’s genius lies in his non sequitur lifestyle. My own personal revelation came in December of 2010, during a two-week period when my best friends refused to play anything but Lil B while I grumbled my displeasure. Fast forward 10 or so listens to “Robberversary” or “Cold War” and the genius—yes, I said genius—of lines like:
“The world’s all perfect: let me fantasize.
What we fighting for? We dying to live.
Going up, now we living to die.
Put my hands in the sky, looking up man, asking for guidance.
It’s not the world’s fault, it’s the people inside it.”
began to emerge non-ironically. Like it or not, Lil B is probably the most honest rapper out there. And that’s refreshing, and why I believe he has as many fans as he does.
But the problem with Lil B’s rise to fame is that it’s based on a constant outpour of music. How many of your favorite rappers drop 30-plus-song mixtapes twice a month? Not every song that Lil B releases is great, nor is every mixtape. I have to admit, I often find myself thinking, “Man, Lil B has fallen off,” like I did after he released I Forgive You only to have him drop God’s Father and drag me back into worshipping the Based God. If there’s one thing I’ve learned listening to Lil B over the past few years, it’s that you can never ever count him out and say that he’s beginning to become irrelevant. Just as you do, Lil B will do something historic (remember the NYU lecture?).
If there’s another thing that I’ve learned, is that there are plenty of rap music armchair quarterbacks. Writing this letter, I was tempted to say, “Lil B should go back to doing this-and-that,” or provide some other kind of advice from a longtime fan. But the truth is that Lil B would be nonexistent if he had listened to anybody but himself. I imagine plenty of people would’ve told him to abandon Based Freestyling, stick to traditional rapping, don’t name your album I’m Gay, don’t release a song titled “Ima Eat Her A$$” etc. But isn’t that part of his charm and his aura? Lil B is wholly original and idiosyncratic. And that’s how you get 65 million YouTube views without a single advertisement on any of his videos. Who else has done that? Who else can do that?
A Lil B Fan