One of the most important things about Lil B is his doe-eyed earnestness. Dude claims he's gay, claims he's God, claims he's deeply concerned about the state of the world, and he puts those soft-bellied worries and ridiculous boasts in such honest terms that you can't help but believe him. (Or hate him.)
So it is with "I Got AIDS," the latest in a long series of unsubtle titles from the Berkeley rapper, and the first single off of his new BasedGod Velli mixtape. (Which is, what, his third mixtape this week?)
Yes, Lil B's new song is a warning call about the devastating virus -- an urge, in the fame of a fictional narrative, to have guys wrap it up or keep it in their pants and for everyone to get tested no matter what. As Lil B told our own contributor, Tamara Palmer, in a post for MTV:
"A lot of guys think it's cool to have sex with a lot of women. I'm not having sex with all these women. I lie about it a lot; I lie about having sex with 40 girls. I'm not doing that, and I want people to know, if you are doing that, you are at high risk of getting AIDS or other STDs and you need to make sure you get tested."
How is "I Got AIDS" as a song? As you may have expected, we're in serious Lil B mode here, not jokey or obtuse Lil B. There's a basic boom-bap, a somber phone convo, and a spoken warning to the listeners. It's certainly not the most nuanced or creative track Lil B has made, although that clearly isn't the point.
Many seem to find "I Got AIDS" another irritating ploy for attention in a discography filled with absurd lyrics and inane boasts. Certainly Lil B has a knack for issuing head-turning, half-rapped statements. But he also means many of them. On this song's YouTube page, he asks fans to make videos of themselves getting tested and send them to him. Judging from previous video projects, he's likely to get a response. So here again, there's just enough substance behind B's showmanship to convince the willing listener that his earnestness is not an act. It's really him. And this song is really him growing his considerable fame through honest compassion, if not fascinating music. As with much of the Based God's work, the song "I Got AIDS" is itself less important than all the ideas that go with it.