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Lil B @ NYU
April 12, 2012 10:33 AM   Subscribe

"Every single person you meet, look at them like a golden million dollar baby." Last night, internet-famous oddball rapper and human meme Lil B gave a 90-minute lecture at NYU to a sold-out crowd. Speaking completely off the cuff, he touched upon radical positivity, empathy, how ant colonies are like human communities, and the dangers of hydraulic fracking, among many other things. Transcript and recording here. Pitchfork.tv will air the full video tomorrow. Nitsuh Abebe writes about what makes Lil B so great, and why it's hard to deal with some of his fans.

If you've never heard Lil B the Based God, it's hard to know where to start. Wonton Soup might be his most well-known track. In keeping with the lecture, though:
NYU
Unchain Me
I Seen That Light
posted by naju (51 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ha, this guy! He's sampling some friends of mine, The Bilinda Butchers on "NYU", I remixed the track a while back myself.

also, previously.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:45 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thank you Based fan.

I just checked the NYU track and he's ripping Cassidy's song here:
http://www.lyrics007.com/Cassidy%20Lyrics/My%20Interpretation%20Lyrics.html

:-(
posted by pez_LPhiE at 10:47 AM on April 12, 2012


Unfortunately, not every person you meet are golden million dollar babies. Case in point: a couple of young Mormon missionaries knocked on my door (at dinnertime, for Chrissakes) about a month ago. Since I used to work at a Mormon-run company, and even lived with an American Mormon family for a month, I had some empathy for these guys, was friendly - I treated them like million dollar golden babies or whatever.

It must have been confusing for them, because they came around about a month later (once again, at dinnertime), and wanted to know if I was interested in learning more about the Edgar Rice Burroughs version of Jesus or whatever, at which point I told them to fuck off.

So it pays to be selective to who you are friendly with.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:53 AM on April 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whoa, I totally thought that story was going to end with the Mormons being the assholes, there.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:57 AM on April 12, 2012 [43 favorites]


That is so appropriate for a lil b thread.
posted by cashman at 10:57 AM on April 12, 2012


Unfortunately, not every person you meet are golden million dollar babies.

Maybe they are, and maybe they aren't. They probably were, to someone, at some time, like their parents. But the existence of people is its own reward, objectively -- just because they don't fit well into an external worth framework provided by society doesn't mean they aren't worth something, to themselves at least.

Anyway, I had never heard of Lil B before and he seems like an interesting person. Thanks, naju!
posted by JHarris at 11:00 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


That is one tiny baby at 1.4 pounds.
posted by tarvuz at 11:03 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"You know I’m the first rapper to adopt a tabby cat. You know I adopted straight from the ASPCA, you feel me?"
posted by jeffburdges at 11:07 AM on April 12, 2012 [4 favorites]




Actually it would be a huge baby. At today's price of gold, a million dollars would equate to 596 ounces = 37.25 pounds.
posted by mark7570 at 11:11 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoa, I totally thought that story was going to end with the Mormons being the assholes, there.

I admit: I'm not a golden million dollar baby, but from now on I'll pretend to you like one. Nice post, Greg!
posted by KokuRyu at 11:12 AM on April 12, 2012


He looooves his tabby cat more than anything in the world and gushes about her on his twitter. The man is just a genuinely wonderful and real human being.
posted by naju at 11:13 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


looks like I got taken!
posted by tarvuz at 11:16 AM on April 12, 2012


"Fuck my main bitch then I dump her in the forest"
"To respect women is obvious, yo."

Serious question: can someone explain how he gets from point A to point B?
posted by drlith at 11:20 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Call me tone deaf, but after briefly youtubing some of his music I have to say all this talk of stealing or fucking bitches comes across as

"Dear Penthouse Forums: You won't possibly believe how much I hate women..."
posted by Phalene at 11:22 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked this comment on the linked article:

Are you kidding me? The guy simply came out and said, "have a good attitude even if you go through bad times" and it took him over an hour to say it. Mostly because of his horrible grammar and saying, "like, you know? I love love. Like, you know?" It blows my mind that people like this are famous and get to speak at NYU when we should be celebrating scientists and actual advancements in humanity.
posted by jayder at 11:24 AM on April 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure what to make of him either. I like him on Based with Tony Yayo, and Am even willing to accept that he is somehow deconstructing and subverting some rap tropes on tracks like Pretty Bitch. I find tracks like Ellen Defeneres oddly absurdist and strangely hypnotic. Judging from his lyrics, where he makes random declarations that he looks like everyone from Jesus, to Justin Bieber, to J K Rowling, constantly refers to himself as a bitch and generally makes no damn sense, I'm not even sure what he means when he raps about fucking bitches. One thing is for sure, it isn't meant to be taken literally.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:36 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Serious question: can someone explain how he gets from point A to point B?
You won't possibly believe how much I hate women..."

This is one of the interesting conundrums of Lil B. To me it's clear that he's engaged in an absurdist deconstruction of the misogyny, homophobia, etc. of hip-hop. He got popular for the WTF factor of ridiculous lines like "Bitches suck my dick 'cause I look like J.K. Rowling", but it's like he's using that stuff as a Trojan Horse to infect his fans with radical love and acceptance. And what's more, for all the young people who started following him for the funny/bizarre stuff, he might actually be making positivity look seriously cool. Or that's my take on it anyway!
posted by naju at 11:36 AM on April 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Let’s stop fracking! Hey, bruh, stop messing with the earth, bruh. Real talk, we hear about these deadly gases going on in the earth, and I’m like, whodie! For real. I’m like, whodie. Whodie, get that oil out the ocean, whodie.

I've been on the fence with fracking but, wow, I never really thought about it like that.
posted by codswallop at 11:37 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whodie, get that oil out the ocean, whodie.

Isn't the very problem that this is what people are doing?
posted by Dysk at 11:41 AM on April 12, 2012


Rawest rapper out there. Rawest rapper alive.

"When niggas start to rap I see 'em throwin' a mask on, what I mean by that is I'm sayin' I'm not hard I'm not a thug I don't bust slugs and cap broads but I what I will do is cut thugs that slap broads..."

Lil B contains multitudes.
posted by MetalFingerz at 12:18 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I get it. This is the world in which Sasha Frere Jones gets to be a culture critic, and this happens to be the world in which Lil B is invited to speak at NYU. This is the world in which everything and anything is culture. I get it.
posted by falameufilho at 12:32 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. Can you explain why you're non-plussed about this being considered culture, falameufilho?
posted by naju at 12:37 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Probably for the same reasons certain art was at one time considered "entartete Kunst".
Not to say falameufilho is a nazi, at all, but there are certainly certain mindsets where art has to fall within certain circumscribed boundaries to be considered art. "Jackson Pollack? My five-year-old could do that!", et cetera.

All creative endeavors are art, and all art is political.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:43 PM on April 12, 2012


naju: "Can you explain why you're non-plussed about this being considered culture, falameufilho?"

Because you can't write down love, bruh.

And dunkadunc, I have Dr. Godwin on line 2. It's for you.
posted by falameufilho at 12:53 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not to say falameufilho is a nazi, at all, but there are certainly certain mindsets where art has to fall within certain circumscribed boundaries to be considered art.

say what you will about the tenents of national socialism, dude, at least it's an ethos.
posted by dubold at 1:23 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




Why does he keep referring to the audience as "bro" and "bruh"? Was there just one man in the audience?
posted by jayder at 2:36 PM on April 12, 2012


"At one point, he took a moment to marvel at the way our brains can tell our hands to move, a thought common to entry-level users of psilocybin mushrooms."
posted by modernserf at 2:41 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


jayder, he's using the collective "bro." It's like deer: same singular as plural.
posted by smirkette at 3:02 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't read or listen to this, but I am getting so sick of people who dismiss fracking while understanding very little about it and refusing to make the connection that they are directly responsible for the demand it serves. Not saying that fracking is good or bad, just that extraction happens because we use so much damn shit. Raising awareness doesn't make you cool. Walk the damned walk and shut your trap.

Sorry.
posted by kenaldo at 3:17 PM on April 12, 2012


wat
posted by falameufilho at 3:36 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surely this gentleman has nothing to teach me: he speaks differently from me!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:46 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


falameufilho: “This is the world in which everything and anything is culture. I get it.”

“There is no CULTURE is my brag / Your taste for bullshit reveals a lust for home of office."

Anyway, "culture" has always been a nonsense term. It has never meant much beyond "what I personally deem important and worth paying attention to," and even then it hardly really carries that meaning.

If I'm going to be annoyed at Lil B, it won't be because he ain't "cultural." It'll be the misogyny, which may well be ironical but that doesn't make it any more palatable to me.
posted by koeselitz at 4:29 PM on April 12, 2012


Lil B contains multitudes.

Literally. He's recorded what, 2,000 songs by now? The Beatles recorded around 250.

Interesting comparison with Jackson Pollock. Not sure I see it. Pollock seems a bit more revolutionary within his genre.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:30 PM on April 12, 2012


Also, I looked it up and he's 22. I'm glad no one ever put me in front of an audience of hundred at 22 and told me to speak profoundly. Putting out that many songs and making a name for yourself at that age is pretty impressive.
posted by codacorolla at 4:36 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I go to sleep and I’m so happy. You know why? I know I’m living what I’m talking about. I go to sleep and I’m like, nyah. On my bean bag like nyah. I’m making history and I’m living it and I’m honest. It feels so good to be honest. Honest as we can be. Nyah. Honesty, integrity, loyalty, passion, friendship. For real, man, that’s real.

Interesting stuff, there.

If Lindsay Lohan gave this very silly, content-free bullshit speech, with all the bruhs and bros removed and tweaked to be in her vernacular, y'all would be talking about how stupid she is and how idiotic her insights are.
posted by jayder at 5:10 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think he's interesting. It's interesting that he exists. I don't know about what he's saying, I haven't look that far into it.
posted by JHarris at 5:14 PM on April 12, 2012


falameufilho: "And dunkadunc, I have Dr. Godwin on line 2. It's for you."

Eh, it's totally OK for this guy's art to not be up your alley- but every time I hear someone say "That's not culture!" I reach for my revolver.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:35 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Within the context of hip-hop and its culture, what he's fearlessly, guilelessly doing and saying is very interesting. Revolutionary even. He's possibly the most influential and intriguing figure in underground hip-hop at the moment. And he's a sort of a bodhisattva, really. If you're laughing you're laughing with him. He encourages and embraces this laughter at every step. When i think of him i foremost think of a generous post-ironic strange spirit, completely of the moment and creating the moment. (I'm not sure how this is comparable to Lindsay Lohan.)
posted by naju at 5:40 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It blows my mind that people like this are famous and get to speak at NYU when we should be celebrating scientists and actual advancements in humanity.

I must have missed the part where all attendees of this lecture were granted diplomas and all other education related functions at the university were shut down for the year.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:09 PM on April 12, 2012


s possibly the most influential and intriguing figure in underground hip-hop at the moment. And

I might go with Tyler The Creator. It occurs to me that Tyler may be the anti-lil b though.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:23 PM on April 12, 2012


I might go with Tyler The Creator.

Maybe a year or two ago... Tyler's moment ended when people realized that his misogyny was genuine and as ugly as his lyrics suggested (hitting women at his shows) and when everyone got tired of his anti-hero shtick. "Kill people burn shit fuck school" is a pretty lame slogan when you're 21.
posted by naju at 9:49 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe a year or two ago.

I'm only a year or two behind. Not bad, I can accept that.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:57 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


i think, pending further investigation, that i like this guy. i think
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:32 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


hype, yes. influence, not so convinced.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:52 AM on April 13, 2012


"Man, I’m pro-caring. That’s a big thing we should bring back. Let’s bring back caring about each other, honestly, genuinely... It’s about having empathy now. What I mean is really caring and paying attention to somebody else’s feeling. You gotta have empathy and know we all on this common vibe. It’s all peace. It’s saying, hey, you know what, you can hit me and I’m not hitting you back. And that takes a very big person to do that. "

I haven't heard his music, I don't know anything about him... but what an awesome thing to say. Sure, some parts of this don't make sense, but the parts that do just totally smash it.
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:05 AM on April 13, 2012


New Yorker: The Dumb Brilliance of Lil B
posted by naju at 12:39 PM on April 13, 2012


Like a lot of people it seems, I am really not sure if this guy is brilliant or stupid. On the one hand what he is saying are totaly infantile things like 'I love love' and 'Let's bring back caring', but on the other hand it actually is nice to love love and it would be good to 'bring back' caring.

He does seem sincere though, and it can never be bad to have a celebrity who loves love, no matter how minor he is, or how ironic his fans are.

Thank You Based God, I guess.
posted by Spiegel at 8:10 PM on April 13, 2012


Yet another charlatan in a world full of crap. But oh wait, my recognition of that is validation of his "greatness." Well, fuck that. And NYU has been a pretty lame school for a while now. No surprise they hosted him.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:28 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


That New Yorker piece is not exactly a glowing commendation of "Lil' B."

One of his songs is called “I’m Miley Cyrus,” and it goes like this: “I’m Miley Cyrus / I’m Miley Cyrus / Cyrus / Cyrus / I’m Miley Cyrus.” Another song, called “Mel Gibson,” goes like this: “I look like Mel Gibson / I’m Mel Gibson… Oh my god, I’m Mel Gibson.” He has a song called “Ellen DeGeneres,” which goes like this: “Ellen DeGeneres / Ellen DeGeneres / Ellen DeGeneres / Ellen DeGeneres.” There is one called “Justin Bieber,” one called “Paris Hilton,” one called “Bill Clinton,” and one called “Dr. Phil,” which barely mentions Dr. Phil. In a 2011 video interview, the Vice reporter Ryan Duffy asked, with regard to this phylum of Lil B’s music, “What the fuck is that about?” “It’s some celebrities that I just think are just funny,” Lil B responded. By the end of the interview, Lil B had come up with a new song. It went like this: “I’m Ryan Duffy / I’m Ryan Duffy.”

I've noticed what seems to be a trend ... maybe not a trend, but a thing that sometimes happens ... where someone with confidence and charisma, from an underground scene, is especially productive on the surface (for example recording "thousands of songs" and making "hundreds of MySpace pages") and garnering some degree of name- recognition by tireless self-promotion that is aided by the hordes of privileged coolhunting college students who want to be ahead of the next big thing, for whom being culturally abreast of the vanguard is more important than discerning whether this charismatic, prolific person's stuff is actually any good. Underground credibility is a huge form of social value, its underground status giving it almost a default importance by people skeptical of mainstream/commercial stuff, but eager to embrace stuff that has earned followers underground. (This eagerness to embrace underground cultural products ignores the fact that the gauntlet that mainstream artists have to run, to achieve lasting success, is an intense and actually does assure a great degree of quality.) People who embrace, reflexively, the products of a Lil B are arguably taking a cultural stance rather than an aesthetic stance, preferring to identify themselves with the vanguard and marginal and new, rather than actual artistic merit.

I guess what I'm saying is that I see in Lil' B a triumph of charisma and prolificness that is possibly not supported by much artistic merit. He's riding a wave of support from people who are embracing him as a phenomenon that does not even require that he be a good musician. What you see in that speech is a bunch of vacuous insights about love and acceptance that are conveyed with a desperate need to be charming and cool. That is, there's not really any substance there, he is a triumph of charisma and self-promotion and savvy manipulation of social media, aided by "fans" whose embrace of him says more about their egotistic need to be culturally up-to-the-moment than it says about his artistic merit. These kind of cultural figures are like characters in a Don Delillo novel, whose stature is a phenomenon divorced from artistic merit but who, as cultural figures, fulfill some weird fantasies in the minds of their fans.
posted by jayder at 9:33 AM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


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