Lil B has been putting out about one video a day for the last few weeks. "Swag on my Dick", posted above, has to be my favorite. It couldn't be lower brow, and that's where it succeeds, in my opinion.
Lil B's ability to jump between high and low-brow rap has been the topic of some interesting writing lately. In some pieces that are shockingly long for tumblr, Noz from Cocaine Blunts, and some dude who writes/tweets as Soft Money have been weighing in on Lil B's introduction and reception to new critics, specifically 2DopeBoyz and The Smoking Section. These two hip-hop
In his piece, Noz argues that Lil B is breaking down the false dichotomy between what some might call "conscious rap", and what I might call "rap that is fun to listen to". That is a compelling argument, and definitely a useful way of understanding Lil B's appeal. While it seems counterintuitive to think that Lil B can "shatter the binary", as Noz puts it, by sometimes making incredibly thoughtful, well-put-together songs, and sometimes rapping about his dick for four minutes; does this not, in some ways, reinforce the differences between the two approaches to rap? and, in a certain sense, force the listener to overcome the false dichotomy?
I suppose that is Noz' point, though, as he closes with this: "Lil B is making all of this music so we can have this conversation. Cherish that." But not all of us are intelligent freelance writers with encyclopedic knowledge of rap, like Noz. Lil B can be very confusing to the uninitiated.
This reminded me of some half-drunk thoughts I had while listening to this song on my iPod:
Lil B "Beat the Odds"
In "Beat the Odds", B raps about his actual day-to-day life, instead of the incredible fantasy world he tends to piece together on his Based freestyles. B talks about his loner lifestyle, working from home, just trying to share his thoughts with the world, and make a buck or two while doing that. He talks about his failures, his dreams of success, and perhaps a bit of guilt for doing what he does, working in the creative industry, especially when compared to how hard his mother worked to get him where he is.
Does this remind you of any stock characters from your urban 20-something existence? Perhaps a freelance writer? That's what I thought, anyway, half-drunk on Bushwick Avenue.
I could be way off here with the Lil B/Freelancer comparison, but there's no denying that it's B's artistic/writerly drive, his work ethic, and the bizarre nature of his project that have made him so popular with more - shall we say - "thoughtful" rap blogs (his combination of high- and low-brow is exactly what so many better hip-hop blogs are all about, right?), and less so with blogs like 2DopeBoyz and The Smoking Section, which tend to act as conduits for press releases and e-blasts.
I find it deeply ironic that blogs like 2DB and TSS can claim to care about rap music, and dislike Lil B for that reason, but cover losers like Drake ad nauseum, which brings me to the end of my half-drunk story.
I was waiting for the J train, when this younger neighborhood kid struck it up with me, and we got to talking about music. He was listening to Drake. I was, of course, listening to 6 Kiss. I tried to explain to him that Drake isn't actually rap; it's pop, and it's terrible. I am 24, I explained to him, and have been listening to rap since before he was born. "Have you ever heard of Lil B?" I asked him. He hadn't. All I could think of to sell him on it: "He's down with Soulja Boy".
Our conversation fizzled after that. He eventually put his earbuds back in, and we rode together towards Manhattan in silence.