Review Summary: Fans of Lil B's old material will feel alienated by nearly everything found here as the "rawest rapper in the game" reveals his more vulnerable side
At this point in his illustrious career, there seems to be very little that Lil B can do that will surprise you. He’s already grown out of his Based freestyles and showed that he can actually flow on Illusions of Grandeur and MF Based. His exceptionally vast discography, having released at least six mixtapes this year alone, it’s only natural to wonder if the BasedGod has run out of ideas. Black Flame firmly shows that Lil B still has plenty of material left in him, but must remain content with never producing the album that he’s capable of.
Black Flame could conceivably be titled “Forgiveness” mixtape because it features many of the songs from his previous effort, I Forgive You, while honing in forgiveness as a central theme on every track. Lil B is building on the morality themed lyrics that he first used on I’m Gay. The problem here is that not all of the songs fit the theme. “***in Wit Da Fiens,” sounds like a signature Based freestyle but without Lil B’s trademark sense of humor. He instead chooses to name drop Africa and The United States as examples of places he identifies with. The excessive profanity on the track shows us two things: that Lil B isn’t mature enough to make a truly meaningful album, and that he’s too mature to revert to his Blue Flame era rhymes. Call Black Flame the chrysalis of his evolution—he still need to bloom into a butterfly but has without a doubt matured beyond the caterpillar he was in his rawer days.
Since Lil B is using this album to evolve, it’s only natural that Black Flame sounds like a work in progress. He doesn’t quite have a handle on how to write touching lyrics on every song, and probably never will if he continues to work at the pace he does. Truthfully, he’s entirely out of his element. His touchy-feely lyricism is punctuated too often by his tourrettes-like outbursts and the beats sound nothing like they do on past records. Instead of their previous tinny quality, they sound like they’ve been recorded in an actual studio. Basically, everything about Lil B has grown up except himself. He still has a gritty street persona but tries to forgive and forget about his roots. He still has the elements of his former beats, just turned up to the point where they almost drown out his vocals. In essence, Black Flame is ambitious in all the wrong ways.
This album is interesting only because it leaves you to speculate what Lil B is going to do next. He retains enough of his BasedWorld persona to make you think it’ll never leave, but tries really hard to disassociate himself from this persona that you think the old Lil B is dead and gone. It’s not unlikely that he’ll keep us guessing for a while, waiting to spawn a new movement in the mold of his former persona. His flow is improving and his beats are becoming more over the top. Is it time for Lil B to be a genre defining artist" I doubt it, but only time will tell.