It's a sad reality that negativity can actually get you places in life. As a music critic, for example, I can probably get a ton of page views by telling you why Macklemore sucks or why Kanye West deserves a deformed baby or how Memphis Bleek could probably out-rap Jay-Z at this point. There's an entire class of media personality -- "shock jocks," if you will -- whose explicit purpose is to shock and spew vitriol.
Well that's not Lil B's style, as the Berkeley rapper showed last Saturday at Porter's Pub. As soon as I entered the room, there was this alien energy about the place. It was packed to the teeth (I heard that the show sold out). The crowd consisted of an assortment of teeny-bopping high schoolers, their confused parents/chaperones and the usual swag-oriented hip-hop heads. There were at least two kids with chef hats, aprons and spatulas, ready to show off their best Cooking Dance moves. There were many more kids sans shirts with #BASED painted on their chests in reverence of Lil B the Based God.
But it's not just that everyone's excited for Lil B. It's that the "Based" philosophy of overwhelming positivity creates this overwhelmingly positive atmosphere. Instead of mean-mugging each other and keeping distance, which is what happens at most hip-hop shows, complete strangers actually talk to each other without thinking of hooking up. They talk about Lil B's rare, secret music and happy feelings. It was like going to a rave but without having to pop any pills to create artificial happiness.
Music. Community. Culture.
That's the appeal with Lil B. If you're a naysayer and you think much of his music is bad, you're right. Lil B has the ability to rap well but would rather not and put out songs that operate more as extended jokes than music (unless you think he's serious when he brags that girls want to give him sexual favors because he looks like Matlock). Those types of songs are funny but not exactly something I'm trying to listen to on a regular basis.
As it turns out, that doesn't matter very much. What matters is that Lil B has the b---s to be unconditionally positive within a hip-hop culture premised on macho posturing and within a larger world that seems to want to eat us all alive. Right before leaving for the show, I'd just heard that that George Zimmerman was acquitted. Emotions were high and tensions were higher.
Then I get to the show. Lil B, after performing his hit "Suck My D---k H--," pauses to remind fans that he's joking and that in real life, we should all show much more respect to women than that. He ends his set with a rendition of "I Love You," the theme song of PBS's loving, purple dinosaur, Barney.
Lil B spent the next two hours signing autographs and taking pictures for every single fan that asked him. No, seriously. Two whole hours. Every. Single. Fan. That is incredibly exhausting, and he did it without ever seeming tired or obligated or anything less than enthused. His music may not grab you, but his positive effect on living, breathing people is something I can get behind. Thank you, Based God.
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.