This probably goes without saying, but public bathroom stalls are not the best place to go if you are seeking advice of any kind. Whether it be career related, weight loss goals, or amassing more followers for your Twitter account, bathroom stalls are not the route to take. If you have never had the privilege of visiting a men’s restroom in particular, aside from the haunting smells, the writings on the wall are by far the most interesting. Most of the time this scribbling consists of self-gratification, such as “John Doe, 9 inch, two-tone log, 5/10/03,” but recently I saw something different than the ol’ feces measurements: a few words of inspiration from everyone’s favorite swag rapper, Lil B.
I had other, more pressing matters to handle at the time, so I didn’t fully commit the exact quote to memory, but that’s probably beside the point. Before this experience, I had never paid Lil B too much attention. When the bathroom motivational eventually escalated into private Lil B listening sessions, my initial thought was his pimping ain’t slick, and he ain’t sayin’ nothin’, the latter of which being the most inexcusable offense. I remembered Lil B though, from his group, The Pack, based out of Berkeley, California. Their biggest single, “Vans,” was so infectious that it caused me, a lifelong Nike/Jordan enthusiast to briefly consider buying a pair of some ugly ass Vans. The Pack is also known for other surprisingly infectious songs, such as “In My Car,” which often propelled myself and others to stop whatever they were doing at the time in order to stick their asses out, extend their arms, and mimic driving motions. And then there was “At The Club,” a song so infectious it still causes everyone to stop whatever they are doing in order to shake their ass, shake their ass, whether it be at the club, at the party, or at the function.
The Pack was a mainstay in the hip-hop arena in the years that followed “Vans.” For a while, Berkeley had something to boast of other than radical liberals, coffee shops, and wildly expensive, Jesus-Carol-did-you-see-Megan’s-college-bill tuition costs. But it seems as if this wasn’t enough for Brendan McCartney. In the late 2000s, Lil B went on a musical rampage, branding his name on the figurative asses of all America by constantly flooding the internet with new material: “I made about 155 MySpace pages. I really hold the world record for that. It was crazy. I have seven songs each page, so five songs the minimum, so that’s times 155. That’s when I started and I was really doing it for one supporter. There was one guy. He was on there like ‘Man, I love your songs.’ I was like, as long as one person’s listening to me and one person cares about me, I’m going to keep going.”
There has and will always be debates about who the greatest rapper of all time is, however, most hip-hop fans will agree that No Limit rapper Silk Tha Shocker was the worst rapper of all time. Some people may say Crunchy Black of Three 6 Mafia, or even Soulja Boy, but like I said, most will agree that Silkk was impossibly bad. I have never heard a man so off beat in my entire life. But recently, people have cited Lil B as the worst. I’m sure Silkk is smiling somewhere (hopefully, long after Silkk is dead, his corpse will be exhumed and examined for deafness).
Before we go any further, I must address Lil B’s signature line (other than “swag swag swag” of course), which usually commences with “Hoes On My Dick…” and ends with “…cause I look like _____.” The rapper even made a song with Andy Milonakis, who is surprisingly a pretty decent emcee. I suggest not listening to the song too much, because this line of thinking is infectious, like other Lil B material, but also dangerous. One can spend what would have been a productive day of facebook tagging or instagraming instead musing on “hoes on my dick…” possibilities, desperately trying to perfect them with each following phrase: Hoes on my dick cause I look like Marge Simpson, and so on. Presently, Lil B has been immune to the ridiculous sort of commercials that are aimed at marijuana smokers, but I’m just waiting for the day when the unfortunate people who have become addicted to creating various “hoes on my dick” scenarios are targeted.
By far, the most controversial event of Lil B’s short career is when he decided to name his first official album, I’m Gay (I’m Happy). When I first heard this startling piece of information, my face resembled that of DMX when he was informed of the same news. In an online video for the hip-hop magazine, XXL, the interviewer initiates a discussion with DMX about the current climate of hip-hop, and particularly, about how some contemporary artists put higher focus on shock value rather than musical content, Lil B was mentioned.
“You serious?” said DMX.
“Dead serious,” said the interviewer.
X is clearly on some sort of hard substance in the interview, or cocktail of hard substances, and yet his consternation is shared by many. I don’t think the staggering differences between the current age of hip-hop versus the past age ever dawned on me quite as much as it did when I saw DMX in that interview. His face alone (images of which I’m sure have spawned some hilarious internet memes) perfectly crystallized a divergence of path. When I was young, falling in love with hip-hop for the first time, I used to watch music video channels for hours (BET, MTV). This was back in the time when said music channels actually played music videos. Back in those days, hip-hop was dominated by masculinity, and even a slight rumor of an artist preferring dicks to tits could be career ending. DMX’s debut album, the hip-hop album of 1998, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, is littered with tales of street violence, fierce barking dogs, and drug references. It was by far the biggest record of the year.
But obviously, we have positioned ourselves in a new age, with no ground rules. The only ground rules are that there are no ground rules. Never in the history of America has our culture become so diverse. Just in the last decade alone, age-old notions about artists and innovators and scientists have faded to the wayside almost completely. Once, television was relegated to pastiche drubble, but now shows like Breaking Bad and Louie can be considered as works of true art in their own right. Hip-Hop, over the years, has been slower with the transformation process, but over the last few years, the shit has really hit the fan.
Take for instance, a group of rappers out of So-Cal called Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Us All. Tyler and his goonies like to rap about rape, murder, and violence. This type of fuckery would never make much noise in the hip-hop arena back in the day. Additionally, we have people wearing outlandish outfits, rappers calling themselves pretty, and grown men wearing skinny jeans. However, back in my prepubescent stages, I never thought that a gay rapper would ever have a shot. But now I’m starting to wonder…
Lil Wayne has, for a long time, been the most popular rapper in the game, but it was only a few years ago when pictures of Birdman and him sharing a smooch surfaced on the internet. When I saw those pictures, my old notions of the workings of hip-hop culture caused me to believe that Lil Wayne was over, and not in the I-know-way-too-many-people-here-right-now-that-I-didn’t-know-last-year-who-the-fuck-are-ya’ll type of over, I mean, over…
Nope Wayne has never been more popular, and has even taken the 8 Mile, MC Rabbit, approach in regards to the grown man kissing, by dissing himself. In his freestyle verse to “We Takin’ Over,” on Da Drought 3, Wayne spit: “Damn right I kiss my daddy/I think they just mad at how rich my daddy is.” There is no way to ignore how different things are today. There is no way a rapper could get away with calling a man with no blood relation his daddy and kissing him back then. Shit was just unheard-uh, B.
Not surprisingly, there now exists an entire canon of essays written about Lil B, and I really wouldn’t be surprised if the criticism on Lil B reaches Shakespeare levels at some point in the near future. Lupe Fiasco, a rapper who had a spark when he started but now is just garbage, actually wrote an entire essay devoted to subject of Lil B, appropriately titled “Why I Like Lil B.” When I first stumbled on this essay, the title caused me alarm from the jump. It’s the same as if you saw an essay with the title “Why I Like Hitler” or “Why I Think Glee Is Actually A Good Show.” But Lupe actually had some interesting input on Brendan McCartney. According to Lupe, “the dope thing about the title is that it exposed the raw power of words and reinforces the concept that “perception is king” in a very simple and even remedial use of homonym (no pun intended but you gotta chalk that up as a mean double entendre!) The word “gay” referring to homosexuality in the minds of the “guilty” ,as well call them here, sent shockwaves throughout our hip-hop community. Making Lil B the target of attack and ridicule.”
Throughout the course of hip-hop, many rappers have met their demise because rumors about possible “frutiness.” Camp Lo, a duo who blew up the charts with their single 1997 “Luchini,” was thought by many to be gay after fans discovered one-too-many suspect lyrics on their debut album, and it virtually ended their careers. When De La Soul released their first album, Three Feet High and Rising, their flower-power rap hippy style was frowned on by a lot of hip-hop fans, and almost brought about the end of their careers as well. De La regrouped however, released De La Soul is Dead, a direct effort to stray away from the hippy nature that had caused them so much controversy in the initial stages of their careers.
De La Soul had to kill themselves to in order to gain acceptance into the hip-hop community. Albeit metaphorical, homosexuals or behavior perceived as homosexual has been the drunken uncle George that shows up to family reunions uninvited. According to Lupe: “So Lil B is from The Bay and he’s a youth hahaha we can stop right here! He already good in my book. But what gets Lil B admission into my coveted genre of “Liberation Rock” is his absolute lack of fear when it comes to challenging the status quo. Whether it be in hip-hop, which is very elitist and caste and class oriented, or just society in general, which is very elitist and class centric.”
But who the fuck cares? Lil B, for one, is a god awful rapper. Although I greatly appreciate his brave attempts to shatter ignorant stigmas, his raps are so basic that it is difficult for me to take him seriously. Also, there seems to be a bit of a lack of substance as well. However, Based Gawd disciples, such as the anonymous person so inspired by the words of Lil B that he decided to stop mid shit and scribble some quotes on a bathroom stall, are wont to tell you that Lil B is a genius among geniuses. His whole “swag rap,” is really just a fabricated attempt to But those same disciples point to Lil B’s more conscious material as proof of his more philanthropic nature. Probably the most famous track off Lil B’s I’m Gay album is track 8, “I Hate Myself.” The most common argument you will hear from Based Gawd disciples is that his whole career is a calculated attempt to…and here is where ideologies drift off into many different directions. Some say the superficial ideas that litter most of Lil B’s raps are really just parodies of the superficiality that runs rampant in today’s mainstream hip hop. However, some of the genre’s greatest attempts have already successfully experimented with satire. Disappointed in the way that hip-hop shifted from non-violent, conscious music to g-funk melodies with rhymes about bitches and hoes, Brooklyn MC dedicated a whole album to parodying West Coast gangsta rap, entitled Slaughtahouse. Even Jay-Z, probably famous for his raps about big pimping, spending cheese, and dusting shoulders off, released the song “Ignorant Shit,” which satirized the casual hip-hop fan’s desire for raps about drugs and strippers. My point being, this shit has been done before, and done a lot better than Lil B.
Pitchfork.com is probably the most avid supporter of Lil B…ever. His friends? His mother? Lil B himself? No, Pitchfork surpasses them all, and is one of the biggest reasons why Lil B is the residing hip-hop king of the hipster community (although Tyler the Creator and his group of weirdos are threatening to take his spot). Despite all the Lil B raps I’ve heard over the last week or so, I have not heard one verse from the Based Gawd that it explains why Pitchfork dickrides him so hard, but don’t be surprised if you hear something to the effect of “Pitchfork on my dick because I look like Thom Yorke” in the future.
I digress. The bulk of Pitchfork.com literature on Lil B has come from staff writer, Jayson Greene. He was charged (or blessed, depending on your level of devotion or lack thereof) with reviewing I’m Gay (I’m Happy), which they awarded a 8.1 rating. Most times I’m a fan of Jayson Greene’s work (I’m currently following him on Twitter, if that helps qualify my statement) but I’m not sure if found too many tangible reasons why I’m Gay deserved such a high rating. I did manage to gather this piece of gold: “For the uninitiated, I’m Gay does a great job of articulating his ethos and appeal in the space of one album. If you’re intrigued by Lil B but shrink from the commitment of keeping pace with a human data stream, it might be the only record you’ll ever need.”
As I sit here typing this, listening to Lil B’s “Paris Hilton,” featuring lyrics like (Bitch I’m Paris Hilton) and (Hoes on my dick cause I look like J.K. Rowling), I can’t help but notice that Lil B is spearheading a modern version of the sort of cultural progression I’ve been touching on. By confronting archaic stigmas, like homosexuality in hip-hop, he is no doubt breaking down barriers. His swag is not a product of his bling, or his True Religion jeans, but his self-confidence, and his ability to persuade people to adopt their own confidence in themselves. According to Lupe, “Most of Lil B’s controversial works consist of breaking the “mental chains,” or releasing oneself from a mental slavery. People oftentimes hear the song “Wonton Soup” by Lil B and completely rule him out as a terrible rapper with no content or purpose. Little do they realize that the whole time he’s been rapping, he’s been trying to destroy the barriers that have chained the minds of people for so long. The reason why Lil B is so radical and so abstract is because he’s trying to rise against the standards that put so many people every day in a mental slavery. Lil B is breaking the chains of hip-hop: all the homophobia, the materialistic mindsets and so on.”
Humans are inherently disposed to change. In the recesses of all our minds, exists a myriad of contrasting ideals and images. Most days my soup of choice is Campbell’s tomato, or chunky sirloin burger, but sometimes, I prefer Wonton soup. It’s this same paradox that allows me to appreciate an artist like Lil B. In high school history books, America’s 20th century cultural integration is rarely mentioned, but nevertheless important. Although heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks were hugely instrumental in breaking racial barriers in America, cultural intermingling, is arguably the most effective. In the New York Times Best Seller, The History of Hip, John Leland chronologically examines the intricate events that have propelled racial understanding. When Africans were forced into slavery, their foreign mannerisms and speech patterns merged with the Puritan dialect to form the basis of our identifiable English. Music is, in my opinion, the most singular example of this, be it young white teenagers dancing at Little Richard concerts, Ray Charles singing country music, or Elvis singing the blues. Art, as music, has the unique ability to shatter racial stigmas and prejudices while replacing it with a catchy groove.
While scientists are locked away in secret laboratories desperately attempting to enhance the technological capabilities of the Bud Light can, Lil B is attempting to bless the world with his based gawd principles. But does based gawd-ism really mean anything, or is just provocative, and gets the people going? Nope. According to the artist, “Based really is being yourself, being positive, not really worrying too much about what people think about you. Really saying what comes to your mind first,” Lil B told Mixtape Daily. “It’s like unconscious. Really not premeditating, saying, ‘Imma do this, I’mma say this, I’mma be this way,’ but really just going with the flow.”
Whether you like it or not, Lil B the artist is the perfect embodiment of our times. It seems as though, more so than ever, teenagers and young adults have more confidence (excuse me, swag) than ever before. Pop music of course, is one of the main reasons. Take for instance Beyonce’s singles, “Who Run The World (Girls).” Despite being a major hit, the song perfectly captures the supreme level of confidence that teenagers are being equipped with at a young age. Furthermore, look at Adele, a singer who is overweight by the impossible pencil stick body image standards shoveled down the throats of preteen girls. But Adele is fucking pop radio right now, with not a trace of Vaseline. Lady Gaga, who wears tranny outfits, meat dresses, and may or may not have a penis, is still the most popular pop star in the world right now. Even artists of the past who once had to self-censor their own lyrics with colorful metaphors instead of stating what they truly meant (afternoon delight…anyone?) have evolved into much more blatant raunchiness (“whichever door you enter, I will let you in” or “cake cake cake”…anyone?) Indeed, the times, they are a changin’.
So like Bob Dylan was to the hippies, Lil B is the godfather of our generation. By attacking tradition, and inspiring people to embrace who they are as people, Lil B is resurrecting a bit of 19th century philosophy, Transcendentalism. If you were wise enough to pick another major besides English in college, then you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. In the 1800s, a few authors and essayists (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Mellville, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman) decided to create an entirely unique American identity, and celebrate the individual things about themselves that made them so awesome. Whitman’s most famous poem, “Leaves of Grass,” begins with the line “I Celebrate Myself” which, in my mind, contains the same ideological framework as Lil B’s self-aggrandizing swag rap. Hoes on my dick cause I look like Herman Mellville. (Get it? You probably won’t if you’re not a nerd like me).
Lil B is making sure that his presence will be felt for a long time to come. The rapper has even spawned other people to pick up the mic and spit raps, such as Justin Bieber. Recently, he even released a book, entitled Takin’ Over, in which he explains his based gawd philosophy of doing away with ignorance and promoting positivity. The book was published not long after a video surfaced of Lil B being sucker punched by some random dude for some random reason. Hopefully, that random dude in question will read Lil B’s book, and renounce his sucker punching ways and embrace the teachings of the based gawd.
I could wrap up this essay with some shot at making some brilliant concluding statement that poignantly summarizes all this nonsense, or I could just say…
“Hopped up in my car
Then I drop my roof
Wet like wonton soup
That’s just how I do
Then I park my car
Then I fuck your bitch
Eat that wonton soup
Wet like wonton soup”
Yup, that’s it.