From ‘Cole: Week Three Response

1. Based
Is when you dont care what people think
its a way of life
Doing what you want
how u want
wearing what u want

-Urban Dictionary, entry I.

“You know it’s real when you are who you think you are.”

-Drake, “Pound Cake”

So, I’ve yet to listen to 05 Fuck Em, but I think I can write this week’s entry without the knowledge of what he’s doing today because everything he’s written so far has spoken to what he’ll be doing his entire life.

Lil B is an interesting artist because I don’t think I can judge him by merit alone. His skills are admittedly alright. I don’t think his verses hold a candle to King Kendrick, and I don’t think he’d hold up live as well as, say, Em. But there’s definitely something here that makes me want to watch him in an interview, read his book, figure out his philosophy. Maybe it’s that he has organically introduced such a positive movement into what is a very negative medium– I mean, our last few weeks have been about rappers who came from the streets, who are into the murder/hoes/coke game, without any empathy or remorse, who put up a macho front because hip hop demands it from them.

But the Based God isn’t about that. He’s more interested in being his most genuine self (which, as you know, I’m always down with). The most positive, real self is the most fulfilled. It’s almost zen, in a way– don’t let anyone’s ideas or opinions change you, let them wash over you so that there’s no residue of the world, just the most real, positive you.

As such, Lil B fills a niche that is at the very opposite end of the spectrum as OFWGKTA, which I think is both fascinating and confusing considering you (and I, and many) can appreciate both sides. Well, I shouldn’t say opposite. They’re both really doing the same thing: being the most geniune, most real, most intense form of themselves. It just happens that Odd Future focuses on the gritty real, and Lil B focuses on the uplifting, sublime real.

But beyond that, I can’t help but speak of OFWGKTA when I think of Lil B, because they are so worthy of comparison. See, while Odd Future is trying to isolate the listener, push them into a veritable cell block of sound, taking them hostage to a mood, an emotion, a pit, Based God is trying to reach as many people as possible.

He does this by making his music as accessible as he can.
That’s his power, I think. He’s made SO many tracks
in SO many styles
with SO many samples, references, mythos, he can’t help but reach somebody with each of those tracks.

As uncomplex his diction is, as simplistic his rhymes, I find that it’s a very Hemingway* thing he’s doing–

“He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”*

The Based God is trying to reach the Based audience, which to him, is everyone. And if you’re trying to reach everyone, you’re not going to use the ten-dollar rhymes, you’re not going to use the obscure references that nobody gets, you’re going to make them the straight line between two points– the easiest route to take. I think that’s why his version of simple is genius.

And that’s why I think it’s an apt comparison between OFWGKTA. Because while Odd Future has the most dissonant sound, the one that tries to resist you in listening, Lil B has this way of drawing you in for (dareIsayit) salvation. He’s trying to change you for the positive, but in the least committal way– after all, he’s done so many different things that he makes it seem like change is the norm. He’ll never stay the same–only true to himself in that moment.

(Man there’s a lot of Wordsworth/Emerson Literary Romanticism/Self-Reliance in this, but overall I think the movement is entirely original for Hip Hop).

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