Lil B has been busy since he released I’m Gay (I’m Happy) on July 16. Between uploading DIY YouTube music videos and a European tour, he still had time to beef (and make up) with Game. Now, only a month and a half after the release of his last album, he drops his latest mixtape, I Forgive You.
The mixtape’s title appears to reference his recent feud, but there are no mentions of Game on I Forgive You. Instead of concentrated battle cuts, Lil B delivers a scattered collection of songs, decidedly more sprawling and varied in tone than those featured on I’m Gay.
B’s willingness to experiment has earned him fans and haters. Though this mixtape could be used as firepower for either camp, I Forgive You’s disorder often works to its benefit. On “I’m in The Streets,” Lil B’s monotone mumble sounds like a down-and-out robot over subdued synths, emphasizing cold, if empty, threats like, “Leave him right where I meet him/Have him planking on this evening.” But on the next track, “I Forgive You,” B cries on the hook and admits “The last time I saw some real friends was on a TV Show” while producer Gallardo Guttah’s guitars whine in the background, accentuating the melodrama of the track and then the emotional coldness of “I’m in the Streets.”
On “30 Year BasedGod,” Lil B brags: “Niggas coming to war/I’m screaming out ‘Fuck them all,’” before dismissing violence in favor of wealth. Then he asks “What about war?” questioning his values, and extending that criticism to society in general. It’s an interesting sequence of loosely connected, contradicting thoughts, which might not have been allowed to develop on the more focused I’m Gay.
The mixtape’s strongest moment, though, picks up where I’m Gay left off: the Based God on a mission to save the world. On “Heard Her Cry,” he addresses domestic abuse over a sad, airy beat from Bobby Music. It’s an old story, but Lil B breathes new life into it with his dynamic descriptions of both victim and abuser. He almost seems to sympathize with the abuser, explaining: “He wants to hit on her because he’s scared to lose her/Don’t know how to say he really love you and just stick with it.” Then, he takes a moral stand, spelling it out, “In other words, he thinks it’s right to beat up on women.”
Lil B’s loose style, which creates some great moments on I Forgive You, can also be detrimental. On “30 Year BasedGod,” the 2011 XXL Freshman lets the beat ride out for 2 minutes and thirty seconds (over half the song.) During most of the other tracks, he spends about half a minute forgiving haters and whether the listener enjoys these rants depends on whether the listener has become familiar with Lil B’s cult of personality. Some songs (“Dity Pop,” “Take A Picture BasedGod,” “Bitch F*ck With Me”) have subpar sound quality and vocals sound fuzzy, lo-fi and unmastered, and Based God’s disjointed flow can be offputting to the uninitiated ear.
This latest mixtape won’t convert nonbelievers. But for his many loyal disciples, I Forgive You is manna from the Based God. —Henry Greenfield