Thank You Based God

You all have have heard of him before. "Lil' B". Even if you are not a fan of his music, you gotta admit having the urge to "cook" one time, or yell out "SWAG!" randomly. As a pop-culture figure, Lil' B's antics have become staples to this generation. Every Sunday you see a different football player doing the cooking dance after a touchdown, and how many times do you hear "swag" per day? Have you ever had a bad day? I suggest looking up "Thank You Based God" on Google Image search and tell me that doesn't make you LOL. Some people see him as a joke, but I see him a man merely making money for doing what he loves, and that's entertaining. I myself enjoy his music because I think once you get passed the "Ellen Degeneres" type songs, you will find that he can actually rap, actually raps about real life issues, and actually stands behind a message. He does what he wants and says what he wants because he doesn't let any of the constraints in rap hold him down, and I respect that. Many people hate him, many people love him. But no one really understands him. That is why I decided to make him the focus of my research paper for my Humanities class last quarter. Say what you want about him, but the paper got me an 'A' in the class. I couldn't help but saying "thank you based god." Here is an excerpt from my paper in which I attempt to apply social theory to the hip hop phenomenon know as the Based God (swag):

In this day of age, where everything is connected through the power of the Internet, it is not rare to see an average person become an instant world-wide celebrity in a matter of minutes. For this generation of teenagers, the Internet has become their go-to public sphere for socializing. It has become equivalent to the 1950s roller rinks and burger joints: a place where teens can gather online together to create their own private space and be free from the control of adults (Tapscott, 55). More than anything, these teens are online constantly sharing content with their peers through blogs and other social media outlets. This generation, often regarded as the “Net” Generation, has received a lot of criticism from the older generation of people. Some have even gone as far as deeming them “the dumbest generation.” But as author Don Tapscott explains in his book Grown Up Digital, this new smarter and quicker generation has the power to revolutionize aspects of society like no other generation. From politics to education, this generation is already beginning to “transform every institution of modern life” (Tapscott, 6).

One aspect of society that is feeling the change is the music industry, particularly the hip hop genre. Since its initial peak in the late 80’s, hip hop has been the one of the most, if not the most influential genre of music in America. But as Internet usage increased, the number of records sold subsequently did the opposite. Rather than paying for music, people were simply downloading the music from peer-peer networks free of charge (Tapscott, 4). As music executives brainstormed for new ways to sell records, members of the “Net” Generation were using the Internet to make a name for themselves without the assistance of these record labels. One particular rapper is twenty-one year old Brandon McCartney, more famously known as Lil’ B. His rise to Internet stardom began in 2008 when he began flooding the Internet with his music through the social media website Creating over 155 music pages, all containing five to ten songs on each page, B was able to attract a substantial amount of followers. He would increase his popularity by releasing over 250 visuals for his songs on the popular site YouTube, while interacting with his 226,314 followers on Twitter and 114,845 fans on Facebook. Yet, listening to his music one would not understand why he is so popular. Many of his songs contain lyrics that are “questionable, profound, obscene, vulgar, outrageous and absurd”, and for the most part, lack any sort of substance or meaning (McCall). As NPR journalist Andrew Noz described it, “his rapping is close to horrible, sloppy and off beat or thematically incoherent.” Add that to the fact that he has never had a hit song played regularly on the radio and it is hard to grasp how he has sold out shows nationwide from Los Angeles to New York City. And while Lil’ B has garnered a large group of loyal fans, his music is one of the most criticized among the hip hop community. Some have gone the length to say his music is “ruining the future of hip-hop" and have labeled him as the “worst rapper ever.” Lil’ B, however, seems to “revel in the hatred,” purposely getting under the skin of people through his music and behavior. While it is not the first time a rapper has utilized shock-value tactics, Lil B might be the first to purposely offend those within the hip-hop community (Noz).

With his focus on his Internet counterparts, Lil’ B is not just another rapper. Rather, he is the representation of an entire generation. His rise to stardom and cult-like following is reflective of the characteristics manifested in the “Net” Generation and symbolizes a need for change in the assimilated themes commonly expressed in the hip hop genre. As a result, Lil’ B’s music and character becomes an artistic form of resistance that acts as a deconstructive critique on the values represented by hip hop’s ideological apparatus. To go along with his lyrics, his choice of attire is a radical shift from the traditional “masculine” figure regularly portrayed by hip hop artists, challenging gender roles and the common misconception that black males have to embody a “gangster” persona; thus bringing to light the stigma associated with homosexuality among the African-American and hip hop community. Lil’ B’s simple, yet confrontational approach to a previously cemented characteristic of hip hop artists has allowed him to challenge hip hop’s biggest taboo. At the same time, Lil’ B tackles the misogynistic themes so often expressed in hip hop lyrics through his outrageous and excessive lyrics, addressing a problem in hip hop that women have been decrying for decades but denied the voice. Lil’ B’s ignorant and anti-intellectual rants also work to undermine the egoistic characters and materialistic themes that hip hop artists have been representing in mainstream rap music.


Alvin said...

hahah I actually like "Wonton Soup" but yea, he can rap, as proven by his albums, not his youtube material.

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