“I love Jesus, man,” said Lil B during his first Atlanta performance, naturally named in his honor as Lil B Live in Atlanta: Presented by Fadia Kader/Broke & Boujee. The 21-year-old member of The Pack is either sacrilegious or an Internet sensation depending on who you ask. Onstage, he’s genuinely amused while recounting the initial reaction to one of the more popular of his thousands of songs floating around online. “People kept saying, ‘Brandon, you can’t do that. You’re going to Hell.’” The “that” in question was Lil B recording “Look Like Jesus,” a song which extols the virtue of him being a “pretty bitch” and apparently having sex with hoes based on his resemblance to a certain Hebrew deity. He later directed a video for the song inside of a church.
A funny thing happened along the way—he didn’t go to Hell. He went to that rarified Internet space occupied by viral clips like Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” and “Two Girls, One Cup.” He went to blockbuster director Brett Ratner’s mansion, where they worked on a project that neither of them will publicly discuss. After being written off as a one-hit wonder following the success of The Pack’s single “Vans,” he rebuilt a fan base using that neon social-networking wasteland so many of us abandoned.
“There was this one dude on MySpace that supported me, Victor McCartney,” Lil B explains. “So I just kept making music for him—then Dolo and I got a bunch of other supporters. So one turned into thousands.”
B dubbed his lo-fi, stream of consciousness songs “Based Freestyles,” with the subject matter ranging from new dances to world affairs, or nothing at all.
“If you can be the realest you can be and put all of your emotion into it, I think people gravitate to the truth,” he explained. Not exactly rocket science, but at a time when men between the ages of 30 and 40 are making ringtone ditties for people half their age, few things in Hip Hop are. Comparatively speaking, Lil B might have more in common with Andy Warhol or Takashi Murkami than Satan, given his manipulation of Pop culture.
For those keeping track, Lil B currently has upwards of 150 MySpace pages, all with at least five songs on them. His YouTube channel boasts about 100 videos, most of which he directed. They also feature a watermark, which directs you to his Twitter feed, so you can become one of his 53,000 fans. While music execs were scratching their heads in disbelief that no one would pay $10 each for albums available free (albeit illegally) via the Internet, Lil B put a digital spin on a tried and true Bay Area formula.
“I was just watching E-40’s independent movie ‘Charlie Hustle,’” Lil B recounts. “It motivated me to the point of tears. It’s crazy to see how much people will try to hold you down, because 40 went through a lot of hate. But he just stayed consistent and kept pushing, and that’s how he got to where he is.”
Instead of moving tapes out of the trunk of a car like Too Short, E-40 and MC Hammer before him, Lil B just flooded the market and engaged with his fans at every opportunity.
Now he tours consistently, and with retail sales in their current state, touring is more important than ever. And of course, the labels want a piece of the action.
“I’m not talking to anybody,” he says in regards to the labels that court him. “I don’t need any extra shit. I just want money.” The Based God hath spoken.
Purchase Wolfpack Party by The Pack.