Our best posts
- IllumiNOT-Me: 10 Ways Rappers Deny Being in the Illuminati
- Kanye West Is Not a Jackass
- From Art Basel to Art Yeezy: Kanye's "New Slaves" Projections as Contemporary Art
- Top 50 Songs of 2013 // January - June
- Slap Genius: Hip Hop's Best Slaps
- When Hip Hop Goes to Court: Rap Lawsuits and Music Law
- She’s Just Being Miley... and Every Other Pop Star in American Music History Ever
- Trap Geniuses: Why Selling Rap is like Selling Crack
- Why No One Has Killed Your Favorite Rapper
- The Rapper's Flow Encyclopedia
- The Beastie Chronicles — I
- 100 Most Upvoted Annotations
- Verse to Verse: Arcade Fire
- Top 10 Television Theme Songs
- Verse to Verse: Kanye West
- Verse to Verse: Jay-Z
- Rap Genius Presents: The Top 100 Rap Songs of 2012
- Scarface: The Holy Bible of Rap Music
- Great Expectations: The RapGenius Guide to Rap Albums in 2013
- 100 Most Upvoted Annotations of 2013
- The Personification of Hip-Hop
- NEW VIDEO from the latest verified rapper on Rap Genius: 50 Cent
- NAS INTERVIEW: why Nas wants to explain his own lyrics on Rap Genius
- Showing Our Poetry Love
- Rappers Crying
- POETRY GENIUS: How To Read And Why
- Life is Good's Future Impact
- GODFATHERS OF RAP GENIUS: Ben Horowitz Interviews Steve Stoute
- Rap Genius Explanation Competition
- The Top 5 People Rappers Reference
- RapGenius Ranks the First Half of 2012
- Hannibal Buress: First Comedian Verified on Rap Genius
- Bricks to Billboard, Grams to Grammys: Rap Genius' Top 25 Jay-Z Verses
- RGU Lesson Two: Me and the Devil Blues
- What Does Trust Mean in the Rap Game?
- RGU Lesson One: The Signifyin' Monkey
- A$AP ROCKY INTERVIEW: Maboo v. Nardwuar
- Who's this new Bada$$ kid???: A UK Perspective
- Professor Rapper: 7 Uncommon Black History Facts as Told by Kendrick Lamar
- Bragging in Hip Hop
- Inside the Lines with RZA: Part 1
- Rap Genius goes Inside the Lines with Mac Miller
- Interview With B Horowitz: RG Verified Blogger
- Are the fans getting more ignorant?
- Rap Genius Interviews B.o.B.
- An Open Letter from Donald Glover
- Rap Genius Nas interview PREVIEW
- Drake Says He's The First Person To Successfully Rap And Sing. Here's why he's wrong.
- Operation Free Earl
- Rap vs. Ronald Reagan
- Rap Genius of the Month: Big Ghostfase
- 30 Rock: On Gunplay and 2Chainz
- What to Expect from Rap Albums in 2012: The RapGenius Guide to Listening Safely in a Hype-Cycled Universe
- Why There Will Never be a 'GOAT' in Hip-Hop: An Extensive Analysis
- SUBJECT: Jones, Russel Tyrone
- The Top 10 Mixtapes of 2011
- Top 100 Rap Songs of 2011
- The Direction of Hip-Hop
- The Recent History Of Mixtape Trolling
- Rappers' Obsession with Jewish Culture
- Dear Shyne, Ask Yourself: 'What Is A Classic Album?' Ya Bish!
- Five Tips For Unsigned Rappers
- The Navy Seal Who Killed Osama bin Laden loves That "Red Nation" Track MTV Banned
- Is Pete Rock's Disappointment Justified?
- Stereo IQ's Top Albums of 2012
- R.A THE RUGGED MAN AND EMINEM: BEEF, OR NO BEEF?
- Is The Rap Game Pretentious?
- My Philosophy on Socrates References in Rap
- Machine Gun Kelly Inside the Lines
- WTF is a Basquiat?
- You Can't Rap, But You Can Make A Song
- "Six Minutes, Slim Shady, You're On"
- Retrospect for Lu: One Year Later...
- Rap Genius Political Appointees 2012
- "Triple Beam Dreams": A Reinvigoration of Tradition
- Top 10 Lines From Drake's "Take Care"
- Rap Geniuses of the Month: Kembe X / Alex Wiley
- Freak Wit It - The Five Greatest Censored Versions of Hip Hop Songs
- Black Star: Let's ALL Get Down!
- Inside the Rappers Studio: A Witty Nicki Minaj?
- Can’t Wait To Be King: If J. Cole Really Were Simba
- Don’t Become a Rapper If: A Checklist
- All in the Name of P***Y: 7 Women Who Made Fresh Beef Into Poison Meat
- Fuck You; Pay Me (By Not Buying My Music)
- The Many Nicknames of Lil Wayne
- Introducing the Rap Map™ - your guide through the gangsta terrain of the planet
- Hella Based: The Many Faces of Lil B
- Is it right to hate fame?
- Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor: All the Lyrics Explained
- Rappers: They're Just Like Us!
- 10 Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas For The Hip Hop/Music Lover
- Lupe Fiasco: The Proust of Rap
- Which Throne are You Watching?
- Kill Whitey: Top 10 Corporate Greed Rap Lyrics
- Common: "A Letter To The Law" Video Breakdown
- Liquid Swords: Rap Genius on the Rap Genius
- Joey Bada$$ & Kendrick Lamar: This Generation’s Biggie & Pac? : A UK Perspective
- The Five Nastiest, Most Explicit Sex Scenes in Rap History
- My Kingdom For A Platinum Football Field
- Selena Gomez does Birthdays, Biebers, and Beats in her new album Stars Dance
- Tyler the Creator - Goblin
- Wax: From YouTube To Def Jam
- Eminem's Infinite Explained
- Bad Meets Evil Hell: The Sequel Lyrics
- Tyler gets pizzunked
- Kirk Knight Shines on Summer Knights: A UK Perspective
- Track-by-Track Guide to Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
- ALL of Tyler, The Creator's "Bastard" Explicado
- Eatbox: rappers eat pussy sometimes, too
- Wale: The Antithesis of J. Cole
- MCA Keeps Rocking in the Afterlife
- THE HISTORY OF HIP HOP (as told by Rap Genius)
- Big Sean's "Finally Famous"
- That Shit Cray: Top Ten Meme Lines of the Year Thus Far
- I Think I'm Turning Japanese: Rap's Infatuation With Benihana
- ENTER THE WU: 36 Chambers
- Raponomics: Top Ten Foreign Currency References Of All Time
- Curren$y's Weekend At Burnie's Syncs With The Film
- Rage Against the Machine: Rap, Rock and Revolution
- Rappers and the Alphabet: A Romance on the D.L.
- International Underground: Hip Hop as Global Rebel Music
- Rap Genius LLP: A NEW Legal Service for the Rap Community
- Tyler, The Creator vs. Woody Allen
- "These n*ggas be mad -- that's why they stay hating" : Thoughts on V-Nasty
- Frank Ocean Nostalgia Ultra - all the lyrics explained
- Interview With Jay-Z's Financial Biographer: Rap Genius Editor SnoopZoggyZogg
- Rap Genius Watch The Throne Cover
- Excerpt: They call me Jay Electronica
- One Love. Elzhi's "Elmatic"
- Notes on "Ready To Die"
- Al Qaeda / Taliban rap paper plate awards: a discussion of Jihadi references in rap lyrics
- The Many Nicknames of Tyler, the Creator
- Top 25 Rap Albums of 2011
- 2011's Best Twitter Moments
- Rap Genius in the OED
- Curren$y "Covert Coup": All The Lyrics Explained
- Belief in Based God
- Lil Wayne Carter 4 Cover
- An Intro to Break Beats
- "Don't Ask Me How": The Elusive TRIPLE Entendre in Hip-Hop
- Big Sean is Finally Famous...boiiiii
- Gil Scott Heron - Father of Rap
- Hip-Hop's TECHNOlogic Revolution
- Pass Through, Ghost-like: A Multi Before I Die Mixtape
- Kendrick Lamar - #Section.80
- Nas interview PREVIEW
- Dominic Strauss Khan & Ghostface
- Adrien Brody Reciting 10 Crack Commandments
- M-m-m-maybach Music
- Crooked I Decodes Crooked I
- Lupe Fiasco's LASERS
- Jay-Z: "Rap Is Poetry"
- XV Reasons Why XV's The Next Big Thing
- A Modest Proposal: Why those white-bread, hella suburban rappers matter
- "Tastes like Swag": Cooking with Lil B (Part1: Wonton Soup)
- We Found Earl!
- Nas, Illmatic: All the lyrics to every song explained
- Wiz Khalifa: probably fucked your bitch
- An Open Letter Regarding OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All)
- Kanye & Pharrell at Design in Miami: Breaking Down Understanding and Rap Genius
- Most commonly misheard rap lines
- Kanye in Paris
- Tyler the Creator: Tron Cat
- Religion in Hip Hop: A RapGenius Overview
- Bad Meets Sequel?
- Rhyming Words with Themselves, sort of: Top Ten Homophone Rhymes of All Time
- Interview: Vince Staples
- Donald Glover Interview: "What the fuck is a Childish Gambino?"
- RAP GENIUS EXCLUSIVE: Despot reveals a supergroup and gives his fans a SPECIAL MESSAGE!
- Subliminal Satanic Messages in Jay-Z
- On "Blue Slide Park": A Review of Moderate Proportions
- The Classic Yo! MTV Raps Returns, One Night Only!
- Cadence & Flow -- A Study in MMG
- Curren$y Interview With DDS
- Jay-Z vs. RapGenius.com: Who's Better at Decoding Jay-Z's Lyrics?
- Lupe Fiasco's "Words I Never Said" Music Video
- Virginia's Finest: Intalek Interview
- "Well I Guess, This Is My Dissertation" - Notes on Graduation
- "Well I guess, this is my dissertation"- Graduation: Decoded
- Fabolous "I'm Raw": A Close Reading
- Dre - Is Detox coming?
- Lil B "Charlie Sheen" music video breakdown
- Fabolous SOUL Tape
- RAP GENIUS EXCLUSIVE: Nicki Minaj's Titty
- Hip Hop & Islam: The Sacred Nexus
- Hell: The Sequel
- Rap Genius on German MTV!
- RIP Macho Mane - Wrestler, Rapper, Baller
- "Don't Wanna Go Home" lyrics – Jason DeRulo
- Nicki Minaj Pink Friday: ALL the lyrics to EVERY song decoded
- Drake, Thank Me Later: ALL the lyrics to EVERY song explained
- "Empire State of Mind" video breakdown
- "Yonkers" Video Breakdown
- Lil Wayne Explains Lil Wayne
- Psychiatrist Advises Degenerate Geniuses to "Check Your Head"
- StereoIQ Lines of the Week: July 30-August 7
- Osama Got Popped..
- DIY: Turning the RG shirt into an RG Lady-Tee
- ALL the lyrics to Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" Explained
- RIP Biggie Smalls (the Rap Genius)
- Congressman Tweets Dickpic: Inspired by Kanye? Or Mannie Fresh? Who knows?
- Woman's work: transporting drugs for rappers
- Thank You Bouillabased God
- Rap Genius of the Month: Don Trip
- Hip-hop Superbowl: Black and Yellow vs Green and Yellow
- Jay-Z on Biting Biggie's Rhymes
- Pusha's "Fear of God" Mixtape: Don't Be Scurred
- Eminem, Recovery: ALL the lyrics to EVERY song explained!
- All of the Lights: Seizure-tastic
- V-Nasty Saying The "N-Word"
- Cole Summer Saga Continues..
- Interview with producer and OFWGKTA affiliate BrandenBeatBoy
- I Love Hip-hop, But...Part I
- Rappers: Suckered by Obama's Charm, Just Like the Rest of Us...
- big boi exclusive: new outkast next?
- Eminem vs. Weezy: Who's the King of these rude, ludicrous, lucrative lyrics?
- Lil Wayne and Birdman's Notorious K.I.S.S.
- Was Slug the O.G. Drake?
- The 5 degrees of decadence in "Fashion Rap"
- Either Kanye and Ghostface both sleep head to toe with their respective cousins, or Kanye is biting
- "Get it?" Why do rappers explain their own lines in the Age of Rap Genius?
- Roots, How I Got Over: ALL the lyrics to EVERY song explained!
- RIP Big Pun
- Rap Genius University: Rhyme Types
- Lulu's son shine: What is Jay-Z talking about in "A Star is Born"?
- Jay-Z, Eminem, and "Renegade": Who Killed Whom?
- Woman sleeps with Nas, Jay-Z, and Allen Iverson; reveals penis secrets
- "I Got More at Stake Than Philly": Reasonable Doubt decoded
- "Can't Knock The Hustle": How Jay-Z Came Up on Ace of Spades
- The Top Ten Verses of 2011
- Introducing RapMetrics™: The Birth of Statistical Analysis of Rap Lyrics
- Rap Genius Interview: Adam Bradley, editor of the Yale Anthology of Rap
- The Game R.E.D. Album Preview
- Wale Attention Deficit: DECODED
- Lil Wayne on Roman's Revenge 2.0: Only One Verse?
- Poll: What are the best "fuck songs" / "love songs" in rap music?
- Wiz & Amber sitting in a tree.. T - A - T - T - O - O - I -N -G
- "Words I Never Said": Lupe Fiasco's Anthem for the Egyptian Revolution?
- ALL of the "All of the Lights"
- Tat My Name On You So I Know It's Real
- Carter IV Preview: Lil Wayne rolling with a cougar
- 420 NEWS: Kid Cudi quits quitting weed
- Lil B album to be called "I'm Gay"
- Hipster Girl Raps "Look At Me Now"
- Prodigy's Book: The Anti-Decoded
- Lupe Fiasco's Long-Awaited Lasers...Cover Art
- Thurnis Haley: Really Into Golf
- Tyler Arrested In L.A.
- Tyler the Creator & Odd Future on Tim Westwood
- Goblin L.A. Concert
- Lil Wayne Carter IV Release Date
- Big K.R.I.T. booed at Highline Ballroom
- Odd Future Is The New Beatles
- "Dreams Money Can Buy" by Drake
- "Return Of Simba" by J. Cole
- FREESTYLE BATTLE: Lupe Fiasco vs. Bill O'Reilly
- Annals of the Rap Orientalist: Talk of Money in Rap
- "Acura Integurl" by Frank Ocean
- "She Wanna Have My Baby" by The Game
- Kendrick Lamar "Hiii Power" Music Video Breakdown
- "Marvins Room" by Drake
- "Everywhere I Go" by 2Pac
- "Tree" - Kid Cudi & Wiz Khalifa
- "Loud Noises" by Bad Meets Evil
- 2Pac on Intellectual Property
- "Ronald Reagan Era" by Kendrick Lamar
- Detox - July 26 Release Date?
- Lil Wayne: "Dear Anne" Lyrics Explicado..
- "Her Room" by Teyana Taylor
- Interview - Indie Artist "b.a.sick"
- Obama sings "Let's Stay Together"
- MO Purp please! New music from Alex Wiley, Kembe X and Chance the Rapper
- Hip Hop's Hero's Hubris?: RG Introduces Asaad
- Lupe Fiasco (and Big Sean) - "Wait for Me"
- Drake Interview
- Lyrics to Tyga's Well Done 2 Mixtape
- Norwegian Mass Murderer Hates Hip-hop
- The Bullitts X Jay Electronica MOOVIE
- "I'm On One" lyrics – Tyga
- "Oh My Remix" lyrics – DJ Drama
- Odd Future in Germany
- MeLo-X = Sade + The Weeknd
- J Cole Breaks Down His Album Title
- Soulja Boy: The Movie (Trailer)
- "Trouble on My Mind" lyrics – Pusha T
- Artist in Residence: Black Cobain says farewell
- "I'm On One Freestyle" lyrics – Chamillionaire
- What's Wrong With John Galliano?
- Tyler The Creator Bonds With Tim Westwood
- Oh Mercy Me: New Music & An Artist to Watch
- "Uncle Otis" lyrics – The Game
- Consequence's "Pusha T Diss"
- Frank Ocean on "Watch The Throne".. Good Move? Bad Move?
- Rap Genius Reviews Dreams and Nightmares
- Jetlifer SinnersRemorse Reviews Curren$y's Priest Andretti
- Nardwuar Interviews Casey Veggies
- MJ Faded Way: Perfect
- Big Sean Arrested
- Artist in Residence: Black Cobain spits a fire freestyle
- Wiz Khalifa x Curren$y x Big Sean = STONER MIXTAPE OF THE CENTURY
- Cam'ron Threatens iTunes
- Black Hippy Interview
- Watch The Throne (Snippets)
- Birdman Forbes Interview
- NEW MUSIC: "Hotel" by NRK (Nobody Really Knows)
- Watch The Based
- In the Zone: Jay-Z and Kanye West Live at Bank Atlantic Center
- EARL IS FREE!
- Rap Genius Editor Teaches Kreayshawn Makeup Techniques
- INSIDE GAME: The Making of Martians vs Goblins
- Rap Genius of the Month: Touré
- Kreayshawn's Ballinest Fan? Drake
- A$AP FERGENSTEIN: on the origins of "A$AP"
- "Watch The Throne" Preview
- Ambition 2: BEHIND THE SCENES
- J Cole on How Jay-Z REALLY Feels About "Cole World: A Sideline Story"
- Game's track-by-track breakdown of the Red Album
- Jay-Z 101 at Georgetown University
- Young Dr. Dre on TV!
- Drake care...
- Lil B's "I'm Gay"
- #Ambition (cover)
- Freddie Gibbs: Cold Day In Hell Cover
- BEEF: Fox News vs. Jon Stewart (& Common)
- Young Jeezy's TM103: Hustlerz Ambition Review
- Siri vs Biggie
- Bad Meets Evil on Fuse TV at Bonnaroo
- IT'S OFFICIAL: Cyhi is an Otis Fan
- N***AWATCH 2011: V-Nasty Calls A Black Man "N***a" In A Fight
- Mac Miller "Blue Slide Park" Tracklist
- Q: what will be this year's MOST MEME Halloween costume?
- MMG loves lyrics just like RG
- RUH ROH: Tyler the Creator Arrested (Again)
- NEW VIDEO: Lupe Fiasco's "Bitch Bad"
- RG RANCH SXSW RECAP (part 2)
- Introducing the Rap Genius Artist in Residence: The Black Cobain Experience
- 13 YEAR OLD KENDRICK LAMAR WISHES HE HAD RAP GENIUS
- TDE on Tour & Too funny
- Southern Boys Collide: Big KRIT & Yelawolf collaboration coming soon
- Rap Hoods - Hampton Roads, Virginia
- Big K.R.I.T. goes live from the underground and gets verified with RapGenius
- Lupe is a rap god but also human
- ras kass keeps it raw
- What is Wayne? The Artist Lives
- New Freshness: Urbana Poppin' Champaign (UPC)
- Ab-Soul Drawing Contest on Rap Genius?!
- Monday Morning with the BRKF$T Club
- Rhyme Spotters: Twinkies
- RIP KING CAPITAL STEEZ
- Artist in Residence: The Confessional, Day One
- Common talks LUV on Rap Genius - Live Ustream!
- first ever freestyled verified explanation (don't ask me how)
- Lupe Fiasco Exclusive world premiere: breaking down "bitch bad"
- Ras Kass Behind the Lines with Rap Genius
- Behind the Bars with RiFF RaFF, part 1
- Behind the Bars with Riff Raff, part 2 (prepare to be enlightened)
- Does Bruno Mars have a space in hip hop?
- Slaughterhouse tells RG what they really think about Black Hippy
- LUPE FIASCO EXCLUSIVE world premiere: Explore Lamborghini Angels
- LUPE IS HERE
- BIG BOI NOW VERIFIED ON RG!
- EXCLUSIVE Lyrics and More From Skyzoo's New *A Dream Deferred* -- UPDATED!!
- What Does Common Think About Rap Genius?
- 2012 BET Cyphers Lyrics: Who spit fire?
- Grand Theft Audio: The Music of San Andreas
- The Importance of Music Education
- big boi RG fan contest: are you big's rap genius?
- Celebrating Common: 20 years of verified explanations, pt. 1
- MEEK MILL EXCLUSIVE WORLD PREMIERE: Maybach curtains
- Ne-Yo is Now verified!
- Dreadlocks. Rasta?
- Blog fam Interview: AFH - Kendrick Lamar "GRIT"
- Celebrating Common: 20 years of verified explanations, pt. 2
- Verified Artist Lushlife is hosting an RG COmpetition
- Joey Bada$$ new single "Unorthodox"
- RANCH RECAP: RG at SXSW part 1
- Rap Genius x BET: Video Breakdown of Stalley's "Fountain of Youth"
- The Fine Art of the Name Drop: From Pac to R.A.
- News Genius Lines of the Week, 05/03/2013
- Kush and Corinthians: Religious Contradictions in Hip Hop
- The Honors English Rap Genius Challenge - CONTEST RULES
- News Genius Quotes of the Week, 05/10/2013
- Skylar Grey x RG x Gigg "Final Warning" Verse Contest
- Young and Beautiful: The Anomaly That is Lana Del Rey
- News Genius Quotes of the Week, 05/17/2013
- The 7 Stages of Yeezus: From "Through the Wire" to "I Am a God"
- "Jimmy's Back": A Documentary about Mass Incarceration by Dice Raw
- Why Kanye Chose No Album Artwork
- Top 10 Whistleblowers
- Wale Contest: Unlock the Meaning Behind The Gifted Lyrics and Win!
- Artist in Residence: Making of "The Recipe" freestyle w/ Black Cobain
- Honors English Lyrics Challenge Coming Soon - Sneak Peak
- TV Night at Cam's
Lil B is pretty much the most exciting thing happening in hip hop right now. Yes, you could make a case for a number of new school up-and-comers: Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica, Das Racist. But no one is more exciting than Lil Boss. No one is challenging the very form of rap like Lil B. He’s breaking all the rules, all the conventions, asking his listeners to question the most basic foundational principles of rap music. And yet he’s blowing up.
And I can’t explain it. I can’t quite explain why I like Lil B.
To friends I’m all like, you gotta hear that Lil B!
They’re like, “What’s he sound like?”
I’m like, “Well, he doesn’t rhyme very often and—”
“Wait, he doesn’t rhyme? I thought rapping was called ‘rhyming’? Like ‘drop some rhymes’?”
“…and he doesn’t really rap on beat all the time.”
“What? So, rhyming and rhythm are not his strong suits? Isn’t rapping only rhyming words in rhythm? So, he’s bad at both of those? Isn’t that like being short and slow and playing basketball?”
“Nah, you just gotta hear it.”
“I’m not going to listen to whatever bad rapper you just described. Peace.”
Seriously, are we all in agreement that Lil B, when he’s described, sounds like a bad rapper? Fellow West Coaster Game famously called Lil B “the wackest rapper of all time.” Many others have echoed Game’s sentiment.
Listen to this song. It’s like he’s only marginally concerned with rhyming, and when he is rhyming he’s talking about being Kristi Yamaguchi. What the fuck? Are we talking about the same Kristi Yamaguchi? Is there a based Kristi Yamaguchi I don’t know about?
But I really like that song. I fucks with that song.
Another B joint “Wonton Soup” is already a 2010s classic.
Lil B’s gotten 5 million YouTube hits on that song. That’s no joke. Lil B is something to be reckoned with, whatever Game, Freddie Gibbs and his other detractors say.
But let’s consider another already-classic song, Jay Electronica’s “Exhibit C” (1.1 million YouTube hits) or “Exhibit A” (431,000), which I find to be the better of the two.
Jay Electronica is, like, already legendary and shit. He’s rapping in the Himalayas, weaving dense metaphors over beat-less orchestral tracks. He’s writing mini rap operas over movie scores and shit. Jay Elec is the guy who sparked a bidding war among Puff and Jay-Z and them (with Jay-Z winning the rapper for his Roc Nation enterprise). His talent is dizzying.
But Lil B is getting played way more. Men lie, women lie and all that. Lil B is getting more attention. Shouldn’t they be listening to Jay Electronica? It’s a head scratcher.
How does this Lil B song get more Youtube plays than “Exhibit A”?
“Hoes on my dick cos I look like Jesus?” ”Niggas gettin’ mad cos I dress like Jesus Christ” What the hell is going on here? Jesus did not wear tiny jeans.
But the kids are into that shit. And it’s not just kids, it’s old heads like me. There’s something pure about Lil B that people feel. An honesty, even though we don’t know what he’s saying most of the time.
And he’s breaking every rule. He only rhymes when he feels like it. He can rap very well on beat, but he doesn’t choose to do that all the time either. When B was chosen to be one of the very few guest spitters on Weezy’s last mixtape, he offered his new audience an exceptionally Lil B-style verse:
Listen to how he comes in (2:31). It’s sort of frantic and hurried. So hurried, in fact, that it’s not precisely on beat. Some might say it’s a little clumsy. And check the lyrics. This is how he goes in:
Yeah, I do my my thing bitch, wassup
Young Based God came in with the ballers
Iced out chain, bitch, I’m rich on that same shit
Sixty-five hoes on my dick, bitch, it’s Christmas.
He’s not even trying to rhyme! And what the shit happens starting at about 3:04? The verse almost falls apart. But that’s standard Lil B. He can rap really well in a conventional way, but he doesn’t want to.
Then comes the familiar “Bbrrrdangdangdang!” cry that he’s so fond of. Lil B will straight just make up words, like the well-known “based.” This sets him apart from other rappers, too. When Jay-Z was cutting his teeth he famously read the dictionary to bolster his verbal repertoire. Lil B is content to make up words to suit himself. Like, fuck a dictionary. Lil B doesn’t really care what words mean, saying in a recent interview:
“Less words! Less trying to put words on something. Why do we have to put words on something? Why can’t it just be what it is? Just because the words have been there for the last hundred years or whatever—words mean what they mean to whoever. Like, you define your life, and you define what words mean.”
For Lil B, to manipulate words and their meanings is to manipulate the meaning of life. It’s like words and their meanings are a sort of prison, and the only way to break out is to remake the words, assault their meaning. In “Trapped in Prison” (off the perfectly titled I’m Gay album), Lil B reflects on “mental slavery,” on being trapped in a world of “clones.”
They’re clones because they all believe the same thing—and what is a word’s meaning but a common belief? Words don’t mean anything by themselves, but only because we all agree what they mean—a shared belief. The word “based,” for instance, is a word that Lil B created and we all believe to have a certain meaning. The word “based” didn’t exist before Lil B—or, it existed with other meanings, and Lil B said, “Let’s all believe it has another meaning.”
He’s like a Lewis Carrol character, who with an iced-grilled Cheshire grin invites listeners on an adventure. “I just speak, you connect the dots.” Lil B is inviting listeners and fans to challenge authority in a strange way: to challenge the authority of language.
For it is the powerful who determine meaning in language, and thus it is a sort of rebellion to invent one’s own. “Nigger” is perhaps the most awful word in the American lexicon, as it represents the brutality of white power and nearly 500 years of slavery, violence and oppression. But to take that word and determine a new meaning—one of camaraderie and friendship, rather than hatred and violence—is to fight on a terrain of language. It is to take some of the power. The power of that word has been removed from the mouths of the oppressor. The word “bitch,” too, has been the scene of a similar battle. And, as Lil B’s I’m Gay album attests, the same sort of struggle goes on with pejorative terms for LGBT folks.
Following the attacks of September 11, the Bush administration announced a “War on Terror,” which targeted anyone Washington called a “terror suspect.” Once the word “terror” or “terrorist” was used in describing you, you were a potential enemy of the United States and its military could be used against you. In many cases, those accused of terrorism and killed, imprisoned or tortured were guilty of the charge. But in a great many others, innocent people were killed or tortured because a single word “terror” was used by the government. Even American citizens were targeted for assassination, with no trial. Cue Jay-Z: “I thought this was America, people!” There is no jury trial, only the sentence of being named a “terrorist.” You do not get to plead your case to a missile strike. Similarly, the term “gang member” has been used by as an excuse for unnecessary aggression. A young black man called a “gang member” by the PD is potentially targeted by the well-armed police.
Immortal Technique probably puts it best:
And you’re now in the state of guerrilla warfare
It has been spread by the superpowers of the industry
To the 3rd World underground of the streets
This is for all those who’ve been labeled extremists, maniacs, terrorists
It can all hinge on a single word.
So, while it may sound like Lil B isn’t making sense when he raps, he’s possibly being more profound than anyone, with each flipped word or phrase being a small revolutionary act, a bold challenge of belief and power. He’s a bit like Tec’s guerrilla, attacking the fortress of meaning. He’ll take your words and use them the way he wants to. He’ll invite you to do the same.
- Matt Pulver