The last time the Based God, rapper Lil B, came to New York City was for his infamous NYU lecture lecture where he freewheeled topics as varied as the damage caused by fraking to claiming to be the first rapper to adopt a tabby cat. In a festival known for its indie rock (not one rapper was on the lineup) the Village Voice 4Knots festival had Lil B headline the closing night along with frequent collaborators producers Keyboard Kid and Clams Casino.
The crowd was dressed appropriately for a show that was part musical performance and part spectacle; signs and props were everywhere from bright pink wardrobe choices to spatulas to properly act out the rapper’s popular ‘Cooking Dance’
Keyboard Kid’s set focused mostly on playing trap music tracks which was a wise choice for the crowd, they chanted, moshed and pushed along to popular favorites. Clams Casino rocking a pink bandana (a Lil B staple) came on stage and played a medley of the hits he produced. His biggest reaction of the night was when he played his tracks with his other frequent collaborator, multi-regional chameleon A$AP Rocky.
Right after Clam Casino’s set Lil B emerged out of the side of the stage wearing a plain white t-shirt, his trademark broken down sneakers, and bright floral print surfer shorts. “I’ve got on shorts with no drawls on because I’m a rock star”, he proclaimed. The question on my mind was how a man who releases hundreds of songs a year does (but with no commercial hits) decide on an effective set list for a live show? Lil b showed if you’re in tune with your fans it’s a pretty easy task. In between stoner friendly commentary he caused a near riot with ‘Wonton Soup’, got the crowd to passionately rap along with an a capella verse from ‘Giving up’ and throughout the hour plus set each and every nonsensical filthy hook was screamed back onto the stage with energy.
The moment in the night that summed up why the Lil B phenomenon still lives on occurred when he invited some women on stage to dance (enthusiastically with little coordination). When one of them tried to back that thang up on the rapper he turned her around and gave her a warm hug. When all the other dancers realized what happened they anxiously ran towards Lil B to get hugs of their own. “Love is the number one weapon!” he had the crowd chant out when he began to close out his set. Underneath the Internet memes, catchy but bad trap rap and dime store words of wisdom lies is just an artist who loves his fans.