Rapper Lil B is a god. Not a benevolent god or even a furious god, but the Based God.
“There’s only one Based God. There will never be another me,” he said before launching into stream of consciousness freestyle at his November 9 Schine Underground performance at Syracuse University. The show was the first for University Union’s Bandersnatch Music Series this semester.
Born Brendan McCartney, Lil B grew up in Berkeley, Calif.
"I think California is a great place if you wanna say this is me,” he said. “I got flowers growing out of my butt. Don’t judge me.”
He launched his career at 16 with the San Franciscan rap crew The Pack, which dropped the 2006 US sneakerhead anthem “Vans.”
But Lil B’s real home is the Internet. He’s managed to transform rap into a form of blogging and has developed a large cult following because of it. He constantly retweets his 347,467 followers and uploads homemade music videos and mix tapes on Twitter and Facebook. He’s also the inspiration for several memes. And in 2010 he created 155 MySpace pages and uploaded five to seven songs per page (that’s over 1000) instigating a Pokémon-esque song-collecting safari for his fans (gotta catch ‘em all).
The audience’s energy was subdued during the opening student group IamG, from New Jersey, and Philly emcee Tayyib Ali. The latter managed to incite scattered hollers of approval after dropping the freestyle line “People came to Philly for me not the cheese steaks” and some half-hearted crowd participation in his call-and-answer antics.
The crowd remained unanimated until Lil B appeared wearing a white wife beater, blood-stained jeans, and the same pair of beat-up Vans he donned in MTV’s Vice Guide to Based Music. Shouts of “thank you Based God!” and “swag!” permeated the air as the rapper swaggered onstage promising a positive musical experience to the crowd.
The performance started off strong and despite some technical difficulties the crowd response remained frenzied. Lil B sailed through the explicit hit “Like a Martian,” followed by a rant about loving and respecting one another.
“We don’t push no violence,” he said flashing a peace sign after counting down a grand total of ten felonies in “Bill Bellamy.”
Lil B entertained the crowd with his cooking dance, anecdotes about Internet stardom, and laughter-inducing a cappella freestyle containing the lyrics “I’m in your front yard/I feel like a gnome” and “swag swag/swag swag”. He then launched into his mega hit “Wonton Soup,” mounting the stage barrier to shake hands and dole out hugs to the crowd. The concert could have ended on this high note but it dragged on with a series of beat-less slow jams. The crowd remained enthusiastic when Lil B suddenly jumped over the barrier and proceeded to muster group hugs, draw on sneakers, and sign t-shirts.
Lil B is not the most verbose or eloquent of gods. He’s been considered an Internet troll by some and a testament of the decline of Western society by others. His rapping style is dictated by whatever pops into his head (take the exemplary “swag swag swag swag/brrrrrangdangdang your girlfriend” from “Ellen Degeneres”) with a stunted flow.
But the rapper insisted during the show that what he does is no gimmick—it’s his “based” philosophy.
“Based is just living your life how you want to live it and having people accept you, you know what I’m sayin’?” he said during a post-concert meet and greet. “And the Based God came about ‘cause I just felt like I was the ultimate positive person and I was like man, I do what I want.”
At a venerable 22-years-old, Lil B feels his ultimate purpose is to serve humanity through his music. He’s planning on breaking into the mainstream with a 2012 album. Collaborations with MF Doom and Lil Wayne are the works as well as a worldwide tour.
“I can’t wait for the worldwide tour ‘cause I just want to see the love and not neglect people,” he said. “Because I feel horrible not being where I should be. Where I got love, you know?”
Lil B is by no means a musical prodigy and is baffled by his own cult following.
“I don’t know why people like me. But I’m just really happy and a humble mothaf-----,” he said.
However, the rapper and Internet extraordinaire made it clear at his performance that he surpasses many other musicians in respecting and constructing a positive experience for his fans.