’s cover depicts a certain hip-hop martyr crucified, wearing a shirt with two breast pockets full of money and donning a crown of hemp leaves. So you might be taken aback when, on “Motivation” Lil B raps, “Finna stop smokin’ weed ‘cause I need to stay focused.
” He says it almost as if he’s reciting a to-do list scribbled on a Sticky Note posted on a fridge. It’s convincing, it’s surreal, and it’s a testament to his hustle. In an interview with Fader magazine, Lil B claimed that he spent roughly twenty-two hours a day just browsing the internet [and just making music.] Blatant hyperbole, of course, but when you drop ten releases in a single year – in addition to a myriad of out-of-the-blue YouTube videos – that’s almost believable. 2010 wasn’t just a great year for The Based God – it was his
year, and in less than a month into 2011, he’s already released a brand new tape for the #based following to gobble up. But Angels Exodus
is different. This isn’t just for Lil B’s most devoted fans. This is for his detractors that refuse to recognize his inventive craft as legitimate; for the most avid Lil B haters. If you keep up with his output and the feedback it generates, you’ve probably noticed people are (misguidedly) disappointed that his output doesn’t consist entirely of his ‘conscious’ songs, such as, say, “Age of Information,” a song that happened to be recently featured in a lecture by a University of California-Berkeley professor. Despite his new-found popularity, Lil B is at an impasse, finding himself juggling revered avant-garde eccentricity and musical stigmatism. His discography yields either cultish love or feverish hate, but Angels Exodus
is his most agreeable album to date, and it’s one of his best.
Lil B has dabbled in the cognizant before. But his ambient albums were impenetrable to those outside of his most stanch support groups; the formula – spoken word drifting in and out of soft, droning synths – was nowhere near accessible. Based In England
is a spectacular album, but an entry point it is not. This is where Angels Exodus
comes in. On “Connect the Dots” Lil B states, “My rap style is like connect the dots. Ya feel me" I don’t gotta say some things because it’s like, you fill in that blank for your life. I don’t say nothing for nothing – connect the dots.
” Yet, on “More Silence, More Coffins” he declares, “I love it [‘the game’] though, ‘cause it’s like my diary, ya feel me"” The two concepts are polar opposites, but when you think about it, some of the greatest rappers of all time have been topically conflicting. (Tupac instantly comes to mind.) But Lil B makes it work. It’s not so much a paradox as it is a balance. Lil B weighs life and death, happiness and pain, and love and loneliness all on the same scale. At times it’s ambiguous (“Resident Evil, I’m loadin’ up my handgun, waitin’ for this life’s zombies,
”) but in other instances it’s deep and personal (“I’m by myself eating fast food on Thanksgiving.
”) While Evil Red Flame
was his greatest excursion vocally, Angels Exodus
is his most lyrically impressive outing yet, at least in a traditional sense.
is a departure of sorts, and simultaneously an excursion into minimalism. Save for the vintage-Wu-Tang-meets-Christmas-jingle groove of “Frankie Silver” and “Bay Area Music,” a clanging, futuristic take on African tribal music, experimental, stripped down neo-soul is the theme here. Here, we see, digitally-altered, high-pitched, sped-up vocals are implemented as instruments almost. A screechy psychedelic guitar solo on “Life’s Zombies” dissolves into a baby voice sing-gurgling in a loop over obtusely-paced drums. “All My Life” is a somber cut highlighted by shrill strings and features Lil B creakily singing. Most times, the mix is ethereal. At others, it’s happy-go-lucky. Airy synths and bold piano strokes highlight the haunting, melancholic stuff and gospel organ riffs add a colorful tint to the clap drums of the album’s brighter moments.
Despite the obscurity, it’s highly accessible. The Based God’ stream-of-consciousness flow is reconstructed in a more technical manner, all the while retaining the trademarked absurdity. The experimentalist sonic tinkering and the left-field meandering make for not only a strong start for Lil B’s 2011, but Angels Exodus
an early contender for album of the year.