Review Summary: Blue Flame is an excellent mixtape that achieves a uniquely obscure balance.
It was British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who said, “…there are lies, there are damned lies, and there are statistics.” So, to avoid any typed fallacies (damned or otherwise) I’ll run through several statistics. 1,500+ songs, 155 Myspace pages, nearly 53,000 Twitter followers, 200+ YouTube videos uploaded, blogosphere cult followings a la Cocaine Blunts and Worldstar Hip Hop, a few sold-out concerts, a fairly popular dance movement, and finally – a handful of music and hip-hop news outlets (including MTV) dubbing Lil B ‘an internet sensation’. So Sputnikers, it’s time. No longer can you dismiss Lil B as an immaterial artist - you have to finally give him a fair listen, and since it’s much better than sorting through his vast, messy catalog, Blue Flame
is a great place to start.
Beleaguered by slight inconsistency, stylistic sporadicity, and a sprawling run time around eighty minutes, Blue Flame
fails to outdo Lil B’s ambient crossover release this year (Roses Exodus
), but by no means is it a poor release. Coming just a few weeks after The Pack’s mediocre sophomore release Wolfpack Party
, Blue Flame
is a satisfying change of pace in contrast to the sparse appearances Based God lends on the aforementioned LP. Much to my satisfaction, Blue Flame
is an excellent mixtape that achieves a uniquely obscure balance. Between Lil B’s erratic stream-of-consciousness songs that are “full of sound and fury and signify nothing” accompanied by frenzied electronics and his meaningful tracks with ambiguously sensible dictations and soulful backdrops, Blue Flame
is a record that is almost entirely strictly black-and-white, and the album’s flow can be less than seamless at times. Regardless, it’s an enjoyable affair that deserves repeated listens, and due to a good amount of smashers (“Wonton Soup”, “Blue Flame”, “I’m Paris Hilton”) and minimal filler (“Like Me”, “Free Lil Wayne”, “Dem BasedGod”) it becomes more enjoyable as time wears on.
A swirling mixture of an unchained flow, topical tangents, adlibs, profane exclamations, and mild nasal, Lil B’s flow is the perfect utensil for serving up his patent-pending based raps. For an example of this style, look no further than “Rich Ho”, which has a quintessential Lil B stanza, “Thirty on my d*ck ‘cause I’m Bob Sagget/Girls love me, no you’re a faggot/In the hood like a carburetor/Ten on my *ick ‘cause I look like Darth Vader.
” The unnecessary profanity, nonsensical statement, “I look like ___” archetype and “(insert number here)
on my *dick” are frequently recurring archetypes in his based raps, and are equal parts fun and uncanny. Descriptions of his meaningful, intrapersonal and sociopolitical songs will be much more general. Curtailed blurbs, seemingly irrelevant exasperations, and unexplained statements are common elements, but topicality ranges from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to purported, unwary defense of civil liberties to inner conflict and the exterior coping that stems from it.
Although constantly infrequent regarding music as it pertains to a song-to-song basis, the production lineup on Blue Flame
is stellar. Throw away the overly minimalistic 808’s-based, percussive beat of “Dem BasedGod”, the R&B cut “Like Me”, and the borrowed Hot Boys beat used for “Free Lil Wayne” (note how the three worst songs have the three worst instrumentals), and you have near-perfect production. There are quite a few superb instrumentals on here. Epic swag song “Wonton Soup” has majestic, triumphing horn-synths, and “Cold War” has a beautiful Janelle Monae sample, but the wild, grinding siren-synths of “BasedGod” takes the cake as the best, with the loud piano loop beat of “Mel Gibson” coming in at a close second.
This is the easiest entry point, and because it’s so damn good, it’s come down to now You owe it to yourself to at least give B a chance. For those who have already heard him and dismiss him – listen harder, and for those who are already devoted fans – BASED NATION UNITE!