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Lil B

White Flame


[Self-released; 2012]

By ; February 10, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Lil B, oh Lil B. Does he want to blow up, or doesn’t he? Considering the guy’s work ethic, you’d certainly think so. If you’re only familiar with the Im Gay fracas, just take a look at a list of his mixtapes. Yes, one of them is 676 tracks. The kid works with something like the ethic of a crazed Curren$y, less concerned with continuous loyalty and respect, instead looking to enwrap as many new followers as possible with every move.

Plenty dismissed – and continue to dismiss – the Californian due to his sloppy and seemingly amateurish flow, but in reality, it takes a certain grasp of hip hop and its history to appreciate his humor. For those that support the Based God, the attraction lies in between his bi-polar performing identity: absurdist satire that occasionally gives way to hyper-emo introspection. Near anything the “MC” does is steeped in some form of sarcasm or irony, such as the overblown controversy surrounding his last album title. The musical world reacted to what they perceived as a cheap shot at attention, which is true in part, but fewer recognized the hysterical, big-balled integrity of a rapidly rising rapper dropping what essentially amounted to a debut entitled Im Gay in what’s most likely the most homophobic community on this planet (excluding Michael Bay’s films).

Despite this energetic childishness, White Flame ultimately comes as something of a surprise. With last year’s Angels Exodus and Gay, the serious side of Lil B had finally seemed to, more or less, firmly take hold, with tracks such as “Motivation” earning him new, more serious-minded fans. Never one to rest on his laurels, B tosses all that out the window with this new release. “Tiny Pants Bitch” (yeah) and much of this effort bring back the never-ending goofy shouts of “Based God!” and nonsensical rhymes.

Quantifying the “goodness” of tracks such as these is difficult, considering how much effort was put into making them bad. “Bad” certainly isn’t the right word, Flame is, for near its entirety, breezy and effortlessly entertaining. With each word, Lil B satirizes the deadly serious nature of much of hip hop, the boasts, the threats, the tracks directed at collecting bitches. The fans already know this, it’s selling his detractors that’s the problem.

It’s something like watching a Mel Brooks flick and taking it as a serious statement – the reality and the perception will never correlate. The concept of rap as comedy is certainly nothing new, perfected by the likes of Kool Keith. Yet, whether you’re listening to Dr. Octagonecologyst or Sex Style, the production is interesting and smooth, respectively. With his whirring, sloppy, rambunctious beats, Lil B extended the satire to every aspect of his music (just look at that cover art). Sure, you can argue the same’s been done, but perhaps never so successfully.

Of course, the self-loathing and confusion is still present, and key to Lil B’s overall presentation. “I’m Down 4 Hire” finds him wishing he could die at the same time as his mother, so as not to live without her, while “Les Miserable” finds him from suffering from career doubts, loss, and fear of fame. Herein lies the true intrigue of Lil B; the moments of harshness that frame the moments of humor as just that, rather than simple ignorance. Then, of course, there are the beats B took seriously, aside from the two aforementioned tracks, “Watch Yo Bitch” sports flurrying, entrancing chimes, “Surrender to Me” makes good use of its soul sample, and so on. Particularly notable is “BasedGod Fucked My Bitches,” both for its ballsy, ‘shouldn’t have worked’ Daft Punk sample and its theme. If you follow Lil B on twitter, you’ll know that his favorite pastime is endlessly retweeting men and women declaring he can “fuck their bitch”; it’s one of his favorite memes and it finally receives its own track here, complete with the mimicked voices of droning, pathetic male fans.

White Flame emerged as part of both Lil B’s ‘Flame’ and “rare” series, another title he’s simply planted on his material, all part of the fun of the Based God mythos. This kid is dropping material essentially every other day; he’s already released a David Banner diss, and taken it back and made up, simultaneously promising another rapidly approaching tape, God’s Father, in the time since this release. With all that material, it can be hard to pick the standouts. This tape, however, falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not a treading-water release, the young rapper clearly has his eyes set on bigger things, but it’s also not the “next level B” class of release such as we saw last year. If anything, this tape comes off as a treat, keeping the fans satiated while he works on his next big thing, along with hopefully drawing in some newcomers with the highlights and simple videos he’s fond of shooting for them. There’s sure to be plenty of detractors who declare his return to joking around as regressive, but to those Lil B simply need ask one thing: how many 22 year old rappers do you know that have a damn mythos?



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