Sometimes in the writing business you just have to lay claims to territory. I see no competition for the title of Amherst College’s Lil B Blogger-Savant. Presented here is a sampling of the best Lil B tracks.
(Before we start, Lil B’s website and tumblr provide plenty primary source reading if you’re interested)
Probably the most identifiably ‘quality’ Lil B song, going by popular qualifiers across rap values. Wonton Soup’s beat could fit comfortably in a Top 40 playlist. It’s got an identifiable chorus section that doesn’t test standards of good taste like some his other pop-structured offerings (eg “Pretty Bitch”). I’ve before named Soulja Boy a student of Lil B, but it’s the opposite case in “Wonton Soup.” At the same time, this is top-shelf Lil B lyrically as well.
The Pack was the group that Lil B rose to moderate prominence with a few years ago, before his solo career; “Vans” was the single. And it survives. I like listening to Lil B’s Pack stuff with a mind towards it showing Lil B’s initial flow, what he’s been developing off of. Also note that Young L is a really really great producer.
“How I Feel”
Lil B has the best taste in samples. Toto’s “Africa”? Hell yeah! And the beat matches Lil B’s based (syn. positive, uplifting) message. If you find the part about being born in the 90s hilarious, you’re cut out to be a Lil B fan.
Myspace is my favorite Lil B song from my favorite Lil B album. You’re in for a meta treat: a nested list of the ten best moments in “Myspace”
1. The beginning. Ending careers “one by one, piece by piece” makes Lil B sound hard, which is not always an easy task with that voice. Lil B in the jungle is a great image.
2. “Came a long way from tucking heat under the fleeces.”
3. “So cold like the ice that was made in snow” (this is a great interpretation of basic weather chemistry).
4. I like hearing good rappers make gunplay sound poetic. The segment starting at 1:27-1:40 progresses very well, I particularly like way B reads the line “infra-red beam on your head, that’s the lead weight.”
5. “What it cost to be me? think big body/ All my life all I wanted was to be somebody/ I would write a lot of raps, then I’d meet somebody/ That would understand my grind, that would see somebody/ Have dinner at a table, take a seat somebody.” Over the rising section of the beat, this is inspirational.
6. “I’m making buzz like– I’m rapping where the bees at.” natch.
7. “Potential is a scary thing, coming from my background.”
8. “Rock Vans, now I switched up from Jordans and Nikes.” Yeah Pack callbacks.
9. “Two chains, four rings. Goddamn that’s pricey!”
10. “Sleeping first class, eating chicken on planes/ Get off the planes, seeing limousines and the Rangers.” As soon as he says it, the connection between “chicken on planes” and limousines seems obvious.
“That Boy Can Fly – Gucci Wings”
Soulja Boy’s verse seems barely attached to artfulness to me, like by a thin thread of membrane. Lil B’s verse seems barely attached to reality. The production makes this song sound like being shook up in a Lil B snowglobe. If this song makes you take a Tylenol, I’m sorry; in my opinion it’s worth it.
A good song for ‘proving’ that Lil B is a technically strong rapper. You can ignore that debate and just appreciate the fantastic flow on this one. “I’m just Robbing like Baskins” is the best pun that Lil B’s ever wrote, and if you watch the video you can tell he knows it.
A complement to “Death Of Rap” I think the songs go really well together, even though they aren’t really on the same page thematically. You don’t have to pay as much attention to appreciate “Birth of Rap”’s lyrical moves. “I fuck with Soulja Boy” is a great thing to say after a drop. This song exemplifies Lil B’s more floaty, ambient production work. If you’re into that sort of thing (I find it difficult) you can find more on the Rain in England mixtape.
This has the best video of any Lil B song. I want to take a vacation to Berkeley and just walk around listening to Lil B. I could probably fill a week with just that activity. I believe that the featured antique shop is probably the most perfect manifestation of the Lil B persona in a business. It’s special that the two Based incarnations found each other, like something from a David Mitchell book.
“I Seen That Light”
In my opinion, if Lil B has improved any part of his music-making in the past six months, it’s a refinement of his based philosophy. He delivers the message in “I Seen That Light” with equal spoonfuls of sermonizing and autobiography, with soaring, transcendant results in the third verse.
I don’t listen to this song often because sometimes I put it on and just hate it like nothing else. This song is a problem for too many reasons. And yet it made it onto this list.