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Friday, July 15, 2011

The Week in Lil B: Lil Wayne Feature, Pitchfork Approval, "Out the Hood" Video

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 9:59 AM

thank_you_based_god.jpg

This was a big week for Berkeley rapper/phenom/Internet prophet Lil B. Let's review:

First, Lil Wayne dropped a new mixtape, Sorry 4 the Wait, that features Lil B on one track. Over the beat from Waka Flocka Flame's "Grove St. Party", the Based God explodes after Wayne's syrupy drawl with a wild freestyle about -- well, let's just excerpt a few choice lines: "See five hoes on my dick, bitch, it's Christmas"; "On like a cradle and you niggas can't stop me/ Shouts out to Mack Maine gettin' rich and cocky"; "whoooop whoooop swag bitch barrang-tang-tang-tang," and so on.

Appearing on a mixtape with the current (if declining) god of rap arguably lends a whole new level of credibility to the Based God's controversial position in the genre. And Lil B doesn't try to hide his stream-of-consciousness, half-rhyming style at all on his appearance with Weezy, instead doubling down on the qualities that enrage haters the most. His childlike energy and enthusiasm immediately grab your attention when he gets on the mic. In contrast to the gushing Based God (as Andy Hutchins pointed out in the Village Voice), Wayne sounds a little dull here.

But even getting a nod from Lil Wayne may not carry the establishment cred that today's Pitchfork review lends Lil B. The site gave his controversial new album I'm Gay an 8.1 score -- not a Best New Music, but nonetheless a hearty thumbs-up. The review, by Jayson Greene, calls I'm Gay "his most coherent, cohesive, and accessible single release to date" -- a statement with which we have to agree. Now, to await the backlash and "hipster"-bashing from the rap traditionalists...

Lastly, Lil B dropped another video this week, not from I'm Gay, but from the early Red Flame mixtape. The 90-second clip for "Out the Hood" portrays a more somber Brandon McCartney, and not the most lyrically agile one. (We can't decide if "Niggas think before you move/Need to speak before you cry/You gotta live before you die" is a succinct construction or a totally facile one, but it's one of the few marginally clever rhymes in the song.) Featuring Lil B in a room lit only by the light of the video camera -- and those overload-distorted vocals that mar many of B's songs -- this is more of a weekly content placeholder than a creative advance. We'd rather watch last week's absurdist clip for "Bill Bellamy."

So what did we learn? First, that B can easily go head-to-head with today's Lil Wayne on charisma if not in pure rhyming abilities (not that the latter is a surprise); second, that mainstream acceptance of Lil B may be on its way (for what else is a positive Pitchfork review but the beginning of the road to mainstream acceptance); and last, that Lil B remains in release-tons-of-stuff mode, even when the gap in quality between the older songs (like "Out the Hood) and the newer ones (on I'm Gay) is very wide.

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