Lil B has been busy lately. Between touring, recording verses with Lil Wayne, dropping an unofficial album and several mixtapes, the Bay Area rapper is scrambling to hold listeners’ attention. But maybe all this has left the Based God depleted, as he sounds on his new mixtape, Black Flame. The latest installment of the legendary (to Lil B fans, at least) Flame series, Black Flame has none of the energy of the Blue or Red editions, and none of the thought provoking lyricism of I’m Gay [I’m Happy], B’s last commercial release. Instead, Lil B sounds like he never has before: fatigued.
Mr. McCartney seems to be trying to prove that he can go beyond “cooking” music, as a more conscious lyricist. But on Black Flame, it seems that even he does not believe his message. “Stop gun violence, we worth much more/More than one choice, you don’t have to go to war,” he rhymes in “Down 4 To Long,” but the nice sentiment of the rhyme is lost in his uninspired delivery. The final product, however well-intentioned, ends up not only being lackluster, but undermined by Lil B’s apathetic tone.
In fact, B seems most energetic and focused when drops the pretense of the ‘hood savior, and goes back to what fans know him best for: his Swag music. “Goldhouse” is the highlight of Black Flame, and the album’s only real cooking song. Despite his more feminist musings such as “you was born beautiful,” as he rhymes earlier on “Ms Woman,” “Goldhouse” has Lil B rapping, “suck my dick, bitch!” with fervor that is absent from the rest of the tape.
However, for the 11 songs prior to “Goldhouse,” Lil B seems bored as he raps over boring beats. Even when he exclaims “I ain’t just rhyming,” the evidence points to the contrary. Black Flame sounds more like a collection of tracks that did not make the final cut of I Forgive You, his last mixtape, than a proper release. This thought is further supported by the fact that the second half of this mixtape is actually comprised of cuts from I Forgive You.
Perhaps Lil B’s campaign of positivity has zapped all the hunger from the Master Chef. Or, perhaps when you record every waking thought into a rhyme, as Lil B seems to do, there’s bound to be material that is more stale than stellar. Still, one of Lil B’s strongest attributes has been his originality, which is strikingly absent from Black Flame.. “You think that I’m stupid but I’m wiser than I look,” raps Brandon on “Down 4 To Long.” He’s already proven that, in the 1000 songs he has released. Lil B has already grabbed our attention. Now, he needs to prove that he can hold it. –Martin Spasov