Music

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.

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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.


  • http://ill-litter.tumblr.com FrankTalk

    I think Lil B. presents a great opportunity to look at post hip-hop youth culture. After teaching in DC for five years, and working with kids in his peer group it was clear to me that hip-hop was much less a part of there lifestyle than it was for us. It was damn sure not something with which they were identifying.

  • http://clutchmgmt.tumblr.com/ sim1ontharun

    @MarcusKDowling Excellent article. Your writing is engaging and complete. Thank you for insisting on excellence yet again.

    @FrankTalk I cannot agree more, although I have been reticent to admit it: those in the generation right after ours (yours, mine and Dowling’s) are indeed living a post hip-hop existence. I think that mass media has played a detrimental role in its uneven promulgation of only one element of hip-hop: [rap] music. Hip-hop “culture,” at least the culture that greatly influenced and reflected our own value systems, is nowhere to be found with these youths. I don’t think the music alone can carry us; an aesthetic driven by materialism alone (and not, for instance, an urban style that is part of a larger culture/aesthetic with OTHER elements, too) is indeed an empty one. Even if, as Mr. Dowling asserts here, there is some hope of nonviolent messages in the music, I have still yet to see a degree of substance in the current youth culture, but maybe I’m just old ;)

    • http://facebook rere1998

      i no yhu cnt agree more

  • Cory Stowers

    I think a similar example can be found in Lil Wayne. 12-years ago he was essentially a joke to those outside of his immediate audience. However the position he holds now is the polar opposite.

    Marcus, I think you hit a relevant point in identifying the values associated with Based lifestyle. However I believe it is more towards a “Fast Times At Ridgemont High / Spicoli ” vibe i.e. rejection of social responsibilities which in turn leads to detachment. That detachment from serious social issues harbors a point of view where humor and absurdity are used a defense mechanisms, to compensate for inability or unwillingness to address relevant issues.

    The real question is, how many young people out there feel disenfranchised the same way he does? And if hip-hop is the tool for helping the disenfranchised then why is this the prevailing mood with-in the younger generation?

    I guess we will find out, maybe 12-years from now he will be the G.OA.T.

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  • BasedLordFollower

    Beautifully stated

  • Peaches le rou

    This is by far the best article on lil b I have read. Most of his media coverage is garbage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brandon-McCartney/1157872547 Brandon McCartney

    LOVE YOU FAM – Lil B

    • http://www.facebook.com/rorodabluman Roy Blumenfeld

      Thank you Based God for saving my generation. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=778749873 Jackie Clam

      THANK YOU BASED GOD

    • http://www.facebook.com/Ruddyfeliz2 Ruddy Feliz
    • http://www.facebook.com/Ruddyfeliz2 Ruddy Feliz

      I remember getting mad at my little brother for listening to your music on my ipod. lol.. But I rather him listen to you than to listen to coke heads and meth fiend rappers lol

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tigo-Jozé-Paraty/100003558462154 Tigo Jozé Paraty

      Thank You Based God for these rare exemple of based living and knowledge of pure positivity!

  • http://twitter.com/SWEEPSTEAKZ ? Z ?

    RARE

  • Based Apprentice

    I LOVE YOU LIL B (NO POPE) I WAS LISTENING TO IM JUST LIVIN SMOKIN WEE WHEN A COP CAR STARTED FOLLOWING ME. I NEVER TURNED DOWN THE MUSIC AND BY THE GRACE OF BASEDGOD I DIDN’T GET PULLED OVER TYBG!

  • Vinniecambra1

    All my family listens to lil b real talk, from my son to cousins to uncles. Lil b is hip hop he is the realest and rawesst rapper/leader in the game. Nobody can touch him. Basedworld for life man

  • kc_the_basedworld_guardian

    I’m glad its gettn out there, dude is the truth and I say that like nobodys ever refered to anybody as “the truth” before.

  • http://twitter.com/MerkTheDonSODMG Merk TheDon

    BASED GOD I KNOW YOU LOVE UR FANS BUT WHATS GOOD WITH GIVING ALL OF YOUR #BASEDBOYS A RETWEET ?? @MERKTHEDONSODMG FAM RETWEET ME I LOVE BASEDGODS POETRY HES AN INSPIRTATION TO MAN KIND!!!@@@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!@@@@@@@@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/itsjordanbaxter Jordan Baxter

    thank you for seeing the truth

  • shakespeareandhisdad

    This article HAD to be written,thank you so much.

  • Based pharaoh

    TYBG from level 1 Based pharaoh

  • thebasedone

    #TYBG

  • Tombom_52

    This article is great, but your summation of Odd Future is lacking imo. It’s like passing off Wu-Tang as horrorcore rap not worth listening to. Teenagers who are emotionally capable of dealing with the violent and dark subject matter should be able to listen to it. OF’s basically in the same position Lil’ B’s in. They’re making ridiculous music and it’s becoming what they’re known for, but they’re all really intelligent and diverse rappers. Plus, everyone in OF’s got real, non-horrorcore rap, it’s just what you see popularly isn’t this stuff, it’s pre-teen kiddies who are looking for something new and interested to listen to, and who will most likely pass on Odd Future as an entire group because they don’t REALLY understand what the music’s about. You seem like a person who would be able to tell your children what this music really means and be able to appreciate it in a similar matter to how you’re looking at Lil’ B.

    However, some of the ideas feel kinda biased because they assume that the people who are listening to music are looking for their music to provide some sort of emotional basis that we’re not going to be able to separate ourselves from. If you’re a supporter of Lil’ B because of his humanity, attitude and lifestyle, you should be able to appreciate most music in a somewhat unbiased and intelligent manner (such as odd future).

    As far as the attitude this article has towards B, everything is good. His movement is about positivity and being an intelligent, productive manner of society. The duality that Lil’ B puts himself in is also a commentary on the attitudes of popular culture today as well. There are people who will listen to B, learn about his movement and completely understand everything he’s about and be truly based, and then there are people who will listen to wonton soup, and all of his “swag” music (which is fun to listen to, but definitely not the REAL lil’ b) and think that they’re based, when they’re really not.

    #basedlove

    Good post man. Stay based.

  • http://www.badboybikerclique.com/ HotBoy

    This nlgga is garbage, but if yall like it, I luv it….Meek Mill leggo!!!!

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