Lil B is fucking weird. The Berkeley rapper, born Brandon McCartney, scored his first hit, 2006's sneaker anthem "Vans," with The Pack, a group he formed in high school. But rather than build on that group's success, Lil B retreated to the Internet, which he bombed with more than 100 MySpace pages of formless, quasi-spoken-word songs about pretty much anything, including, but not limited to, the collapse of society, blowjobs and tabby cats.
Since then, he's dubbed himself "Based God", preaching his "based" philosophy of unbridled positivity to more than 700,000 Twitter followers. He's released upwards of 3,000 songs, by some estimates, and hundreds of amateur music videos. He's responsible for starting a dance craze based on motions done while cooking and has collaborated on songs with rap superstar Lil Wayne and comedian Andy Milonakis.
But one of Lil B's weirder quirks is how he views himself. His catalog is loaded with songs based on his supposed—and completely absurd—resemblance to various celebrities: Miley Cyrus, Bill Clinton, even Fabio. But to help the uninitiated understand the Based God, CityBeat has assembled a list of people who really do share characteristics with Lil B:
Lil B is Tony Robbins: Robbins has been the face of the self-help industry since the 1980s. He's conducted seminars and authored popular books like Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement, coaching people to help them achieve personal and professional goals. In 2009, Lil B published his own self-help book, Takin' Over by Imposing the Positive. While the book's mostly a series of text messages and emails slapped together haphazardly, the fact that he even went to the trouble shows where his priorities are: spreading positivity.
Lil B is basically a hippie, and the root of his philosophy is about delivering affirmations in this new-age sort of way. Details are vague, but it's generally about being open and positive, expressing your own individuality and accepting differences in others. The use of "based" is his way of "imposing the positive," turning the word from slang for being high on crack cocaine into an uplifting ideology.
On the surface, Lil B's commitment to being "based" sounds child-like, marked by an endearing enthusiasm unfettered by cynicism. He reportedly spends hours each day responding to fans on the web. When hip-hop heads accused him of killing the genre, he responded not by biting back in fury but by writing a song, "I Killed Hip-Hop," wherein he plays an assassin who was hired to kill hip-hop, only to end up struggling with the moral weight of it.
Lil B is former Mayor Jerry Sanders: Sanders—a Republican—made headlines in 2007 when he withdrew his opposition to same-sex marriage, going against party lines. At a press conference announcing his change in position, a teary-eyed Sanders cited his close friends and family—including his daughter, who is a lesbian—as reasons for his change of heart.
Much like Sanders, Lil B is a trailblazer, going against his own in the area of gay rights. Hip-hop has historically been perceived as grossly homophobic with hyper-masculine rappers liberally using the term "faggot." Even today, there are very few openly gay hip-hop artists, though there's been an upward trend with the rise of rappers like Mykki Blanco, Angel Haze and Le1f.
In stark contrast, Lil B is one of the only rappers willing to even play with gender roles. Many rappers describe themselves as gangsters or soldiers. Lil B has called himself a "princess" and a "pretty bitch." Hell, he's even called himself a "faggot."
In 2011, Lil B took it a step further when he announced the title of his latest album, I'm Gay (I'm Happy). Though he insists that he is heterosexual, the title was a gesture in support of the LGBT community. And despite reportedly receiving death threats because of it, he kept the title.
Lil B is Tumblr: OK, so Tumblr is a popular blogging platform, not a person. Where traditional blogs adopt a magazine-like format, with words dominating the content, Tumblr, for the most part, relies on Internet memes—virally transmitted and LOL-worthy takes on the latest pop-culture fads (see: the manly abilities of Chuck Norris).
Essentially, Lil B is a living Internet-meme generator. His Cooking Dance has spread by way of Internet meme, with legions of fans uploading their own attempts to YouTube. There are even memes exclusively about Lil B. One meme, "Based God Fucked My Bitch," started when Lil B joked that disciples must let him have sex with their girlfriends if they want to become truly based. (This is definitely a joke: In real life, Lil B is reportedly very shy around girls.)
And the "Thank You Based God" meme lays the catchphrase atop photos of celebrities crying tears of joy, so we're led to believe, because of Lil B's divine blessings. So, if he truly is a deity, it's safe to assume he's a benevolent one, rather than a vengeful one.
Thank you, Based God.
Lil B plays at Porter's Pub on Saturday, July 13.
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