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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

9.3

Lil B
I'm Gay

So far in 2011, while being his least prolific period for some time, Lil B has made the most substantial progress in perfecting his craft. Angels Exodus, released back in January, saw B move away from the avante-hard-to-digest awkwardness of 2010's Rain In England, once again returning to his sample-heavy production and conscious style of rapping. Angels Exodus immediately proved to be his most consistent release to date. And his most accessible. With tracks like More Silence More Coffins and Motivation offering the perfect introduction to not only his brain-dumping style of rapping but also, just as importantly, a somewhat clear explanation of his life philosophy. And for people who had previously dismissed B as a contradictory meme star ("hoe's on my sick because there's no God" etc) Angels Exodus was the ideal re-entry point.

This was swiftly followed up by the Illusions Of Grandeur mixtape. Primarily built around a similar style of boom-bap, soul-altered production, including some work from heavyweight beat genius 9th Wonder, the release once more featured B sounding focused, keeping his enigmatic "based" belief system as the centerpiece, but also refining his line of argument and flowing with a much better sense of clarity. It was also refreshing that on both releases there wasn't any continuation of the now done-to-death meme about someone/something being lodged on Lil B's little b just because of his/her resemblance to someone/something1.

Angels Exodus and Illusions Of Grandeur are both outstanding records, but unfortunately you won't find reviews for either of them on this website.

There's several reasons for that. The most consistent excuse we've used is the issue of timing. Even when you type at a rate of 420 words-per-minute there's a strong chance Lil B has released 5 new mixtapes, 12 new (rare) viral videos and launched 9 new awkward Photoshop memes in the time you've even finished checking all the their/they're/there grammatical issues of the first paragraph2.

And then of course there's also the embarrassing sidenote of fanboy-ism. Lil B has the habit of reducing Real Men to gushing little Backstreet Boys tweenagers, who would pretty much sacrifice their parents to have their banana split by Nick Carter (circa 1997). Obsessive compulsive bots like myself are genetically prone to becoming head-over-heals in lust with genuinely charismatic artists like Lil B. It's embarrassing. But accepting this fact is the first step to becoming the laughing stock at your next family BBQ when you get drunk and put on your Lil B Greatest Hits CD-R and then grind up a bit too much/hard on your Nanna/Nonna/Hot Cousin.

But, much like 2011 Lil B, I'm focused on this one and if you're reading this review (and you haven't broken into my house/hard-drive and stolen my reviews.txt file) then I've achieved my life goal of publishing a Lil B review. So we've already won half the battle, regardless of how many misplaced commas your Bachelor of Online Journalism enables you to uncover in this sentence.

Ok, focus. Not trying to get bogged down in the dangerous world of meta-reviewing, but the positivity associated with even publishing these thoughts is a solid linkage into a discussion of I'm Gay, which, just in case the last 2000 words hadn't dragged you too far off course, is actually the point here.

Lil B is a positive rapper. Rare, I know. In a genre that, for the most part, has associated positivity with "faggot hippie rappers" and/or misconstrued this outlook with ego-based gloating, B is immediately a refreshingly optimistic figure. He exists in his own self-invented creative world, isolated from the genre in which he openly adores. This isn't a rebellious excommunication caused by his specifically different style or approach, but rather the crux of his motivation and his deep connection to outsider art3, whereby detachment and solitude are essential, and competition, acclaim and success are of little concern.

His open two-way relationship and genuine lust of his fans, in addition to being one of his most endearing features, is also one of his most prominent musical characteristics. This consistently merges with his overly personal approach to his lyrics and abundance of positivity. In turn, this forms the basis of his often complex belief system. Not only is his "based" philosophy utilised as his centrical point-of-difference, but it's also been his main hurdle, with the rapper often finding himself tangled amidst contradictory statements in an attempt to prove his human completeness, constantly attempting to show you that his personality is a multi-dimensional facet of his life — changing, evolving and constantly updating.

On I'm Gay, Lil B successfully untangles his philosophy, and the clarity in which he communicates his thoughts, without discarding any of his other notably admirable characteristics, is the main reason this record is his career highlight so far. There's also a consistently cleverer merging between the different levels of lyrical perspectives — internal examination and his wider social commentary spectrum — as well as the way both approaches fit within the accompanying production. Game, dominated by an infectiously celebratory soul sample, features Lil B weighing worldly and personal dramas on the same scale, dissecting them both with a series of memorable, yet mostly unconnected, positive one-liners. The Wilderness intertwines rising synths with a more single-focused mentorship, darting between his own internal issues and how they relate to the wider community. While Neva Stop Me focuses on a more aggressively forthright rapper, challenging his critics and then re-applying the same distrust to higher beings, questioning religion within angry throwaway lines.

Then there's the remarkable I Hate Myself. Built around a muffled, yet hardly altered Goo Goo Dolls sample, it bleeds raw emotion, equally from the wailing musical backing and Lil B's own lyrics. It's not only the album standout but also one of his most overall 'complete' songs yet, finding the lyricist hopscotching through his scattered thought patterns, traveling from a depressing pleading edge of confusion to a politically charged rant, before climaxing with a positive self-realisation. Here we have a rapper, a human being, working through his thoughts and feelings and arriving at a conclusion. Best of all we're there, riding alongside with him as he works it all out.

And it's this sense of everyman companionship that's the most important part of Lil B's music. He creates this connection. Not with amazingly complex metaphors, because, well he isn't the Best Rapper Alive — or even an honorable top ten candidate. And, although the production on this album is of a more consistently high quality than much of his previous work, it's hardly a standout within the genre. No, Lil B's success is completely dependent on the fact he exists on our level. His humanistic approach. And on I'm Gay his focus on this roll is clearer than ever. He isn't saying he's just like you. But he doesn't pretend to be. Not preaching from a leer jet above you either, getting head from a hooker, snorting crushed up Louie V bags and telling you that you can end up like him if you get lucky and/or "make it out of the hood". No, he's standing right next you. Calmly, yet compassionately, informing you of his own feelings, as well his thoughts on the position we're all in. Not just me, him or a particular socio-economic stereotype. But everyone.

Again, I'm probably the last person that should be telling you how great this album is. I'm already converted. I'll read what I want into everything Lil B does and the intricate details of this record. But, I hope this masturbatory rambling has made even just one person listen to Lil B and/or revisit him, dismissing their initial judgmental attitude that he's merely an inconsistent quantity-over-quality Tumblr superstar. Even for that one person this has been worth it. Well, that's the positive approach Lil B would take anyway.

Notes:
1. We all know Ellen Degeneres was as good as that meme-ing was ever gonna get.
2. To further strengthen this point, Lil B has released three more mixtapes since I first started writing this - I Forgive You, Black Flame and The Silent President. All available via DatPiff.
3. This explanation is a pretty good starting point on the topic of outsider art.

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Lil B

 

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Comments

DryFood

As the Based God's disciples, we must be wary of not corrupting his wisdom or else he'll up like Jesus and Siddhartha Gautama - all misunderstood and shit.

8 years ago

glugger

"Lil B's success is completely dependent on the fact he exists on our level."

Exactly this. He's not broadcasting this from his gold plated helicopter while his convoy of cash filled limousines rolls by, he's speaking to you like a normal person. This sense of familiarity/friendship, that he conveys so well, convinces you that he is more than just an image/sound played across your tv/stereo. He is a real person.

My first Lil B release.

8 years ago

Muscle'n Flo

i just don't get it.... sorry

8 years ago

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