[Self-released; 2012]

MP3: Lil B – “Real Hip Hop 2012”

Describing Lil B as “prolific” would be a titanic understatement. With the release of the God’s Father mixtape, the past 12 months have seen the Based God drop a staggering eight full-length mixtapes, not to mention a very solid album (I’m Gay) and a host of #rare YouTube singles and “based freestyles.” It’s nothing less than astounding, then, that God’s Father is nearly two hours long, and it’s actually good. To put that in perspective: this mixtape is only about seven minutes shorter than Joanna Newsom’s 2010 triple album Have One On Me.

Sure, an argument could be made that his output rate is so high because of the lazy filler material that populates some of his mixtapes. But with God’s Father, the quality control criticism goes out the window. It’s two straight hours of based hip hop, and while some ideas here are much more interesting than others, not once does the tape truly lose your attention or drop in quality.

As usual with Lil B, the beat selection is top-notch and occasionally daring. He raps over instrumentals old and new. Most notably, Three 6 Mafia’s “Late Night Tip” is borrowed on “Keep it 100,” and B responds to David Banner’s swag-rap diss “Swag” by laying some out-of-control, hilarious verses over the banger of a beat. Among the original productions is a Clams Casino beat sampling Rihanna on “Turned Me Cold,” which doesn’t live up to Clams’ high standards but serves its purpose nonetheless as a backdrop for one of Lil B’s frustration-airing serious cuts.

Unfortunately, B doesn’t credit his producers in the tracklistings of his releases — “Lil B, he’s very busy,” as he puts it himself in the intro of “The BasedGods Layer” — but there are some true gems to be had here. “Real Hip Hop 2012”’s cinematic strings bring out the best moments of traditional rapping on the tape (“Dude like me, man, I’m beyond hatin’ / I ain’t scared of Hell, bitch, I’m beyond Satan”), while the purifying, bass-heavy, calmness of “God Help Me” showcases B’s penchant for avant-garde, new age beats that few other rappers would dare to rhyme over.

While most of the beats are fresh, often with innovative sampling choices, a few sound dated and stuck in the chipmunk soul fad of last decade. Still, Lil B’s eccentricity evens out any weaknesses in production as he switches effortlessly from a serious, positive vibe to a humorous or angry mode laced with his signature ridiculous non sequiturs (“Spongebob Based God, you’re so funny”), shout-outs (“Somalia! Somalia! Africa!”) and adlibs.

On the whole, God’s Father touches on many the Based God’s musical styles, and that’s a long list in itself. There’s the heartfelt, emotional side of Lil B (“Februarys Confessions,” “Bitch Im Bussin”), the ‘90s rap fetishist side (“Go Dumb Tonight,” “See Ya”), and the goofball stuff (“Im Just Livin”’s pet shop intro) to name a few. While blending styles like this often ends in a clunky mess, the cohesiveness of God’s Father in the face of all these approaches is what makes it a great mixtape.

If you’re undecided on Lil B as an artist, as many internet rap fans seem to be, the closing track on God’s Father, “I Love You,” might be a good litmus test for understanding the cult-like fuss over the Based God. On the song, B in no way resembles a competent rapper; his flow is comparable to that of a four year-old attempting to freestyle, he hums and sings the title out of tune to the beautiful instrumental’s piano sample, and drops lines such as “Thank you Based World, for being nice” and “Really, I value friends, you feel me?” while awkwardly stretching his words to stay on beat.

Songs like this are undoubtedly the reason some hip hop fans put Lil B on the level of 50 Tyson, and it’s understandable to not enjoy it, but the discrepancy between this and so-called “real hip hop” is, of course, completely intentional and done with a dash of humor; anyone who’s heard “Chasing the Rain” or “The Age of Information” knows he can actually rap. It’s just that B doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. He’s the least insecure rapper in the world, and this often leads to charming displays of weirdness like that of “I Love You.”

In an era where music acts are bending over backwards for blog buzz that might lead to a major label deal, it’s comforting to know that there are artists like Lil B making audacious choices for the sake of artistic expression and not an industry’s agenda. This characteristic is rarely more evident than on God’s Father.