Review Summary: Hip-Hop needs Lil B.
The critical reception and controversy that have surrounded Lil B has made him a difficult person to make an overview of. For those who don't know, Lil B is a Los Angeles rapper who has garnered most of his attention for his use of "based tracks". These songs usually attempt to be as absurd as possible ("young based god goes straight for the bitches/mac ten lay'em on the floor like a mattress") or referencing himself to numerous celebrities ("swag like Ellen/chain like Degeneres"). But don't be quick to judge Lil B, among his thousands of tracks there are serious attempts of Hip-Hop scattered among his song catalog. People immediately write him off as "garbage", but really they're taking him way too seriously. The kind of reception that Lil B receives seems to border on either pure hatred or worship. So Lil B names his newest LP "I'm Gay", claiming that it's an anti-homophobic message, but we all know that it's a means for attention. So will "I'm Gay" change any of his haters minds? Probably not, but that isn't quite the point.
Without any of this controversy where would Lil B stand in the Hip-Hop world? Take Tyler The Creator for example, who has used all his controversy (and don't forget the video for "Yonkers") as a pilot for popularity. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Lil B is using his abstract style to get noticed, which is what every artist wants. Lil B is making music the way Lil B wants to, he's giving a middle finger to the Hip-Hop world. And for some reason, this social experiment of marketing has really gotten him noticed.
One of the biggest complaints about Lil B is his lyrical skill and his flow. Well it's true that he is lacking in both of these categories. Lil B slurs many of his words together, misses rhymes entirely and sometimes raps lazily. Lyrically, Lil B is constantly trying to come off as meaningful on "I'm Gay". He tackles every track with an optimistic undertone while covering religion, poverty, and violence. The only problem is that most people won't get very much meaning out of what Lil B is saying. Lil B is way too vague on every topic that he throws around, as he doesn't tackle any of these topics with any real depth. It's almost like Lil B is throwing something very basic at you and he wants you to take off with the meaning yourself. Which really wouldn't be a problem if it didn't seem like Lil B didn't know how to tackle it with real depth in the first place. But don't let this bring your opinion of "I'm Gay" down, as Lil B is actually coming off very humble and honest in these songs. Just think of some of the lyrics as first thought observations.
On the other hand, Lil B really delivers with the beats on this album. The production is more clear and crisp than ever. The samples also border on fantastic. Take the "Iris" sample by Goo Goo Dolls on "I Hate Myself" for example, where the guitar is warped to the point of being unrecognizable but it fits the mood of the song perfectly. Another album highlight "Unchain Me" benefits highly by the childrens choirs but suffer from a few bad lines ("it's not even human/people die for a piece of paper/it's so stupid"). Many of the songs are carried by their samples alone, but that's not entirely a bad thing. Some of the beats on here are so fantastic that they make up for a few bad lyrical stumps. But can you really blame Lil B? He has garnered a large following by producing absurd music, and that's what makes him so genuine.
I Hate Myself
Gon Be Okay
I Seen That Light