Listeners unacquainted with the California-based enigma Lil B or ‘The Based god’ have got a lot to catch up on. For one thing, the tenacious young rapper boasts a back catalogue like no other; it’s no exaggeration to say the Based god has released at least two thousand tracks in the last five years, since going solo from his commercial success with The Pack. No one truly knows the exact number for sure.
Thugged Out Pissed Off is the first release from Lil B in over a year, a comparative aeon in Based time, and is arguably Lil B’s most long awaited release as a result. It’s difficult to articulate just what makes his music so engaging to his worldwide legion of followers (or the B***h Mob, as they call themselves), but this review will attempt to shed some light on the phenomena.
Tracks like “Flexin’ Maury Povich” best encapsulate the unorthodox, Bizarro world-style of rap that has seen the Based god earn plaudits and fierce detractors alike. Ad-libs of “whoop!“, “swag” and “figaro!” intersperse Lil B’s brash, yet tongue-in-cheek flow: “Call me Based god bitch I look like Usher, flexin’ pink shirts and I’m still doing numbers“. Elsewhere, he croons a melancholic hook on “Tryna Buy P*$$y” and takes shots at a certain contemporary artist on “4 Tha Record“: “A lot of suckas fake so I can’t respect it, f**k The Weeknd put that on record“.
Lil B is endlessly entertaining if you’re in on the act, although that’s not to say his persona is a facade, or in any way disingenuous. His music is often a pastiche of conventional rap tropes. Whereas some would boast about a car or a new chain, Lil B prefers to liken himself to arbitrary celebrities picked out of a hat such as James Blunt or Kurt Angle as a means of quantifying his swag level. He’s not a parody act, or a patent comedy rapper in the mould of Lil Dicky or Jon Lajoie.
Rather, Lil B can perhaps more accurately be described as the Andy Kaufman of rap music; an artist who embodies his work and clearly revels in breaking the presumption that everything should be done by the book. Just as bands like Ween challenged the archetype that all rock music must be po-faced and humourless to be enjoyable, Lil B is making his mark in Hip Hop history in the same vein.
Critics of Lil B often cite an ‘off beat’ flow, but the Based god can rap well in the traditional sense when he wants to. On “Stopping And Going“, we hear one of Lil B’s most lyrical and sombre tracks to date. “I had to get outta line to get in position“, his personality and stream of consciousness is one of his biggest selling points. If you thought this moment was the turning point of the album, you are swiftly corrected, as he immediately follows this track with a revert to his more nonchalant style.
His multiple personas are further demonstrated in the furious “Black Bih Stole“, in which Lil B recounts, through gritted teeth, the true story of having $10,000 jacked from his hotel room the previous summer. Thugged Out Pissed Off is a straight nosedive into Based World, and represents the rapper’s most varied and interesting work since the early tracks that put him on the map.
The Based god’s emergence from cult figure to the forefront suggests a disaffected demographic of the rap-consuming public, who want an alternative to the repetitive sound typically pedalled in the cut and paste landscape of modern Hip Hop. Lil B perhaps portrays his appeal most eloquently on 2011 track “Please Respect The B**ch”: “I don’t gotta f*”kin’ rhyme, all the f**kin’ time, get off hip hop dick, and come jump up on mine“.
Words by Joseph David Horne