Lil B: beat the odds

If you like rap music a little bit, then you are asked to pick favorites.  Part of that is rivalries, where if you are a fan of one group or artist, you stay away from or even deter other people from listening to your favorite musician’s competition.

A more pernicious kind of intellectual trap comes when you feel a rapper wrongs you.  They might release a song or collaboration with someone who you know sucks.  Or they write a verse praising domestic violence or some crap like that.

Lil’ B has crossed his audience’s expectations so many times that they now expect the bizarre (if they’re still around).  You might pick up one of his ‘rap’ albums or mixtapes and discover very little that sounds like rapping.  Stream-of-consciousness un-clever wordplay.  Exceptionally awkward delivery, ideas that trail off.  Songs that make no sense to someone who is trying to listen to it with charitable ears.  It’s not edited to showcase Lil B’s clarity, his music is edited to showcase the mistakes. I’d argue that his performances expose Lil’ B’s vulnerabilities and screw-ups as an invitation to consider similarities.

Part of that is the idea of based — to return the living performative and free-wheeling lyricism.

There is a lot more interesting to talk about the based god.  Consider the political/rhetorical shenanigans of Lil’ B.  Calling his album “I’m gay.” His deeply internet-entwined performance and fanbase.  His discussion with his fans/friends makes an interesting impact on language.  He moves forward with toxic language choices for example ‘based god fucked my bitch.’

There is no positive element to that phrase.  The “my” suggests ownership over a woman.  Objectification and comparison to animals in the word bitch.  The weary trope of a celebrity having sex with someone’s girlfriend or partner.  Disempowerment and pain are really conveyed in this short phrase.

But somehow Lil B uses it to suggest solidarity.  He seems honestly shocked when asked in interviews if he would have sex with someone’s wife or mom — saying he never has.  He simply uses the words to convey something quite differently.

In some ways it sorts out his audience for him.  If you are hip enough to get past the terrible linguistic jump then you can be in the club.  Shouting painfully sexist and disempowering phrase is part of the invitation to something else with Lil B.

In the case of Lil B I just take each release on it’s own.  No reason to love or hate the artist forever.  Sometimes he’ll make a nice tune.  I know, pretty un-hip hop.  Let alone un-feminist.  In this case, we get “beat the odds,” a seemingly sincere, almost saccharine ode to hustling.

Mark my words: from Lil B riding in a sports car with Souljah Boy to riding the bus in this video.  We are going to see the return of working class images and references in hip hop.

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Filed under communication, feminism, hip hop, representation

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