From V70 Spring 2011
RAPPER LIL B INVENTED A SUBGENRE OF MUSIC SO WILD AND WEIRD IT COULD ONLY FIND A LIFE ON THE WEB. LUCKY FOR FANS, HIS WI-FI IS ALWAYS ON.
“I got kinda freaked out when I got to one hundred thousand,” explains rapper Lil B. “I was like, Oh my god! But when I get to five hundred thousand, I’m really gonna be happy.” B isn’t talking about album sales or dollars and cents. Rather, the former member of Bay Area group the Pack is referring to his number of Twitter followers, and his reaction is not without merit. Considering that most of his mixtapes and albums have been released for free online or through independent vinyl-only labels, these numbers border on the paranormal.
As one of the web’s most visible new talents, B boasts over one hundred Myspace music pages, a popular Tumblr (under the alias “Dior Paint”), a Twitter account that endlessly streams quotations and retweets, and a YouTube account with over two hundred homemade music videos and new content popping up almost daily.
The Internet has played a critical role in B’s story from the beginning. “My first Internet was WebTV—that’s for the real Internet motherfuckers right there,” says B, remembering his early online days with the warmth of recalling an old friend. “I wanted to make music even when I was in middle school, so I would go on the Internet and take other people’s songs like they were mine and put my own words in.”
His instinctive habit of poaching material soon evolved into a uniquely bizarre and beautiful style of mixing, blending the unlikely genre of ambient music with his own syrupy spoken rhymes. It’s such a unique sound that B has coined a musical genre all his own that he calls Based. He has christened himself the Based God.
“Based music is about being yourself, staying positive, and doing what you feel you need to do,” he explains. “It started when I was in the Pack and I just kept going, kept pushing that Based lifestyle. It’s about respecting people and respecting art—being close to the streets and to the people.”
There’s another way B intends to stay close to the streets: he wears, and promises to keep wearing, the same pair of decrepit Vans sneakers “until I make my first million dollars.” The shoes appear ready to fall apart at any moment. “They’re worth $45,000,” B says proudly. “I put my own price to them.”
It’s quite possible they’ll soon be worth even more. “I got some surprises for you,” B says, hinting at an exclusive. “I was in a meeting with [Universal Motown president] Sylvia Rhone and I was showing her my new stuff and my top-secret new hit, and she was like, ‘This is worldwide!’ She was flabbergasted. She said she could hear Rihanna on it. So I really am taking it to that level and beyond.”
But would he really consider giving up his own brand of weirdness for a global smash? “I’ll never forget my underground roots and my connections to the people I hold dear,” B says. “You know, I gotta keep these Vans safe.”
Lil B in New York, January 2011
Styling James Valeri
Vest and shorts Dsquared Watch (his left) Missoni
Sunglasses Jeremy Scott for Linda Farrow Projects
Leather cuff (his left) Maison Martin Margiela
Chain bracelets (his right) and socks stylist’s own
Lil B’s Glassface LP is out in spring 2011 from Basedworld