By Marcus McAlpin
First He Parked His Car
Brandon Christopher McCarthy, aka The BasedGod, aka Lil B, is a Berkeley rapper with a cult following and deep local roots. The Bay Area is not only his home (he went to Albany High), but also his inspiration and launching point for an entirely new genre of hip hop.
“The Bay Area is so special.” Lil B told the BCC Voice, “You know, just being from the West Coast. It was a real advantage.” His early musical endeavors included the well known “Pack,” with their numerous hyphy and post-hyphy records giving new anthems to the youth of the Bay Area. Creativity has certain peaks and dips, as any musician knows, and Lil B has made it a habitual process to leave not even the slightest morsel of creativity untapped.
When we asked about his initial inspirations for music, Lil B was quick to reply: “I just love music. Music is just so amazing to me. It’s a gateway to a better existence. I just know music, I just always loved music as long as I can remember.” In regard to his imagination, he comes full circle between bursts of perceived brilliance and perceived ignorance. It’s in this alleged ignorance that his wisdom seems to emerge, leaving Lil B with a cult following of positive-thinking young people.
Taifa, a BCC student and local musician from Oakland, spoke up about how Lil B influenced him.
“Throughout high school Lil B taught me that it was ok to be different. His music and words provided a subculture that included anyone. By the time I discovered him, he had 200+ free songs online.”
Due to his methods of producing music, Lil B is able to record an enormous amount in a short period of time. This has led to a new type of hip hop, which led to a new subculture: the era of the “based” lifestyle. Being based has its own definition, depending on the individual. In the words of sophomore Owen, a rhetoric major at Cal, “Being based means keeping it real and never selling out, spreading knowledge, truth and blessings…basically just positive vibes in the presence of so much negativity. It also means repping your hometown heavy and performing two hour concerts for drunk college kids.”
The BCC Voice, asked the BasedGod for his interpretation of being based: “Based always has a definition. It’s being yourself at what you do, and not caring what other people think of it.” It’s this truthful relationship with his own consciousness and creative flow that allows for such an overflow of artwork inspired by true originality.
“You haters don’t got no felonies, Young BasedGod flex 10 armed robberies,” sings Lil B in his song, “Wonton Soup.” In another hit song, Walk the World,” he raps, “Since I’m from the Bay where the weather is magic, look at a few buildings, I inspected inside em, I touched the wall to feel they pasts a hundred years and destruction lasts, I wanna build my soul, I call love that resembles a home.”
This barefaced diversity in language and content has an interesting effect. Lieyah, a sophomore at Cal has a very peculiar outlook on Lil B, “He has no rhythm but that makes him endearing and he also cries a lot and I love his lyrics. He also touched my friends butt.”
Lil B creates a spectrum in which opposites and contradictions seem to sit on similar pedestals. Lil B is also known widely for a dance he created called “cooking.” This dance has spread like a wild fire. Even NBA and NFL players have been caught cooking. When asked about this incredible popularity, Lil B replied, “It’s just having fun. Dancing and stuff is cool. Have fun, get money. It’s cool. It’s cool that the sports world has embraced it. The world and sports compile our culture. There’s numerous things in pop culture related to Lil B.”
Xylia, a student from BCC, offered an in-depth analysis: “Lil B is a contemporary cultural prophet. He fosters positivity, fluidity, expression, and love to a faithless generation of ill-informed youth. His based Twitter scripture and prolific creative output gives me hope for a more compassionate future.”
It’s this contemporary creativity that results in some type of new divine spirituality surrounding Lil B. Here’s a quote directly from Lil B’s Twitter: “Please don’t ever tell me you are ugly or are not beautiful, I won’t believe you.” Optimistic is an understatement for how Lil B portrays himself. He has become more than just an influence, but some type of template for new rappers and elite celebrities.
Lil B has given lectures at MIT, NYU, and UCLA, among other prestigious schools, simply because of how he holds himself and the messages he wishes to share. One might wonder how these universities got ahold of Lil B to come speak, and his answer to this question was quite simple. “Students reached out via email. I connected with those schools and made it happen. It was all the students’ emails demanding me. I do this 100% by myself. No agents, no managers, this is run a little bit differently. It’s a lot of trial and error.”
Independence in an industry as cutthroat and conniving as the music business is impressive. For any young new musicians, Lil B advises: “Continue being in the studio. The studio is the place.” In regards to the musicians currently in the scene, “Music is in a good place right now. I’m really happy where it’s at. The times are sort of crazy. I’m seeing a lot of people are inspired by Lil B and by the whole situation in general. It’s a good situation for a lot of people to make music. Free Bands, Future wasn’t lying.”