Both West Coast underground legend Aceyalone and Internet sensation Lil B will be performing on Saturday night in San Diego, which is the perfect excuse to try drawing comparisons between the two disparate rappers who pretty much should never otherwise be compared to one another.
Rapper Aceyalone should need no introduction except that it's 2013 and he doesn't have swag so I'm gonna assume he needs an introduction. Aceyalone came up in L.A. in the early '90s from the renowned Good Life Cafe, a weekly open-mic spot that cultivated a highly experimental, avant-garde scene. He originally formed one-quarter of the group Freestyle Fellowship, whose members served as poster boys for the Good Life scene. As a solo artist, he dropped the seminal debut, All Balls Don't Bounce. Basically, if you've ever heard a dude from the West Coast rap fast -- or "chop" -- he probably owes something to Freestyle Fellowship.
On the other hand, rapper-absurdist Lil B probably doesn't need an introduction at all. If you're on the Internet and you like either rap, Tumblr or Twitter, you probably know more about Lil B than me. Lil B started his career as part of a teen rap group, the Pack, best known for their sneaker-loving hit, "Vans." Shortly thereafter, Lil B dove into the Internet like a caterpillar in a cocoon, only to reemerge years later as the Based God. Lil B the Based God is about spreading a childlike positivity to any and all, a philosophy he's deemed Based. Half of his music is full of what he calls Based Freestyles, very loose, free-associative, spoken-word-ish rants, often over cloudlike instrumentals. The other half of his music is pretty much just him making goofy jokes: He has songs in which he compares himself to Miley Cyrus and Paris Hilton. He's even got a song that's mostly just him mimicking a cat purring on a track.
So what comparisons could I possibly make between Aceyalone and Lil B?
First, both rappers are about that positivity. Aceyalone responded to the hyperviolent L.A. gangster rap of N.W.A by trying to rap like a jazz musician. Lil B responds to the hypermasculinity of all of hip-hop by undermining it, sometimes referring to himself as a "princess" or by releasing an album titled I'm Gay (I'm Happy) in support of the LGBT community.
Second, both rappers have expanded the boundaries of hip-hop. Aceyalone discovered extremely complex, never-heard-before rhythms in rapping. Lil B discovered a way to rap without rhythm and kinda make it work.
Third, both rappers are very influential. I love Blackalicious to death, but I gotta admit they probably got a little something from Freestyle Fellowship, along with dudes from Hieroglyphics and Living Legends. Meanwhile, without Lil B, acts like Odd Future Wolf Gang, ASAP Rocky and Kreayshawn would be very different from what they are today -- if not completely nonexistent.
Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog sdRAPS.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by becoming BFF's on Facebook or e-mailing him directly.