On Lil B, and how being “based” can save a lost generation.
by Marcus K. Dowling
This isn’t what you think it’s going to be. This isn’t another column by a grown ass man trying to sink his teeth into and tear asunder the cache of cool and cult of personality cultivated by latest underground cause celebre Lil B the Based God. Rather, it’s the opposite. It’s a defense of Berkley, CA native Lil B, his “based” lifestyle and in many ways why it is my belief that at this exact moment that he is the freshest and most important voice in hip hop.
If a fan of hip hop, you’re already aware of the fact that rap music is the voice that is powering our cultural generation. Therefore, if a fan of rap’s underground, you have a plethora of up and coming challengers to the throne of guiding the universe from which to choose. However, I don’t see J. Cole selling out New York City concerts upon mere mention of his name. I don’t see Curren$y or Tabi Bonney inspiring slavish teenage devotion that makes hip hop feel fresh and fun with the childlike innocence of early American Beatles adoration. We’re at the lunatic fringe of pop music and existence these days, and kids need heroes that mirror the nature of society. Of all those who mirror the bizarre confluence of confusion, angst, spiritual freedom and individualism, Lil B the Based God may be the most pop friendly of those options.
Let’s make this perfectly clear. Lil B is doing nothing new or original. “Based” lifestyle advocates doing what you want, saying what you want, being respectful and keeping an open mind. If it still makes no sense, you’re “based” in positivity. If you’ve watched any of Lil B’s collection of absurd videos and listened to his vocal content, you’ll note that he advocates “fucking bitches” and “making money,” and in calling himself a “pretty bitch” who looks like a choice of Jesus, Paris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, he’s not short on braggadocios pride.
Though grouped together in a photo shoot for a recent cover of Fader Magazine, he’s not fellow left coast upper middle class rappers and horrorcore emcees OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All). Their game isn’t particularly inventive either, taking a blend of Del tha Funkee Homosapien dipped in Onyx and the Gravediggaz and advocating rape, smoking crack and extraordinarily violent assault. Between the two choices, I’m going to choose being “based.” It’s a lifestyle that isn’t a potential sonic gateway to injurious behavior. If we’re a lost generation, then the kids below us are floundering worse than we are. I prefer that if we’re going to follow someone to shed some light on our dyspeptic dispositions that they have the spiritual uplift of a barnstorming Baptist tent minister than giving a sense of being surrounded by a nephew of violent Juggalo culture.
Teenage hip hop fans need a pop star icon they can relate to. Now 32, I’ve hit a point where I’m nearing the age where I start looking at teenagers on the street and imagine what their parents think of them. If I were a parent, and my child wanted to listen to pop trending hip hop, I have two choices. Destroy their computer and put them on a diet of Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets as a starter, or, let them enjoy Lil B. I’d be far more into them deciding that their life goal was to be a “Master Chef” and to get involved in a non-violent lifestyle that largely involves them wearing chef hats and carrying around spatulas than wanting to aspire to being Waka Flocka or Gucci, and make society conform to having to deal with their perpetual criminalization.
These are unusual times. In an ever growing sea of social and cultural malaise, let’s be glad that we have Lil B the Based God. All he wants to do is wear his Vans, do the “cooking dance,” and be an advocate for a free spirited and peaceful existence. His life is a life that involves learning, loving, and appreciating both the simple joys of life and reveling in a fantasy existence. When unemployment is at 9%, the Tea Party exists, and you can’t even read your horoscope anymore to get a handle on things, just be “based.” Swag.