Peace, Love & Based God: An Interview With Lil B

How did it feel to see Lil Uzi Vert shout you out this past week?

It always feels great to see a legend and icon show love. I love him and I’m inspired by his work ethic, so it’s great that a legend shouts out another legend.

How much of yourself and the things that you’ve stood for throughout your career can you hear in what’s happening today?

Honestly, I hear the Based God everywhere. That’s why I can never be upset. This is what I wanted. I wanted to give a way so everybody could make money. I always push music and hip-hop, and if I could do it, that means you can do it. I never took that as an insult or anything like that. I wanted people to be included and understand how powerful music is and understand what music means to people. When I hear myself, from the lyrics or the ad-libs, from the artists that are making it to everything, from all the different levels… It’s so many levels of influence that I’ve had within music and just everything, YouTube, the world. Being the first artist to meme. TYBG, “Thank You Based God,” is the first meme of music. You know what I’m saying? We see now how popular it is. It’s just historical.

There are so many levels of influence that you have. To start, people credit you as the originator of what you called cloud rap and based music, and I’m curious as to when based music first came to you and how you define it?

Based music has been here since the early 2000s, 2002 to 2003 or even earlier. Really with The Pack, Young L, that’s like my early, early based work. That tape was called Based Boys and one of our major-label debuts. Also, The Pack has never broken up, as Lil B is doing his thing and finding the Based God.

Cloud rap was a genre that was created out of based music. Cloud rap is based music, but some of the supporters and the people in the world created that subgenre within based music called cloud rap. Besides myself who created that, Clams Casino was also a component of creating cloud music. Without him, it wouldn’t be there, as well as Keyboard Kid, who’s a huge component of cloud rap. Also, like ASAP Rocky, a huge component of cloud rap. I mean, there’s a lot of specific artists, like Main Attrakionz, Squadda B… Man, there’s people that I have not even mentioned that I need to. I can give credit to Soulja Boy too also for pushing cloud rap forward because I was around him during that time and feeding him artistically, as well as him inspiring me and feeding me artistically. 

When artists create something so unique, it often takes years for that influence to really shine in everybody around them. Around 2010 or when the solo Lil B stuff started picking up steam, do you feel like you got that love that based music and cloud rap deserved at that time?

If I didn’t give love, I wouldn’t be making music. That’s half of it, besides me absolutely loving the music. I never really paid attention to if I got love or if I didn’t get love because I always see love. I’ve always gotten love. Like I said, it was so many levels of inspiration, whether it was looks, the music as well, everything that went into being based and really just giving people my viewpoint.

People were upset about me calling myself a pretty bitch or what I was wearing or the style of music that I was pushing forward, just the rebellious style of music. And that’s why you can have a legend now like Playboi Carti or so many other people that I’m inspired by. I mean, having a legend like Lil Yachty. It’s so many people. I’ll let them say that for themselves, but there’s just so many legends. I mean, like ASAP Rocky, Odd Future. So many from Lil Peep to an XXXTentacion, or Ski Mask the Slump God. There are so many legends that I know Lil B has inspired, and they’ve inspired me as well. And that’s what it’s about. It’s about everybody inspiring each other to take it farther.

Did it matter to you if you ever had radio play or anything like that, or is it more about this level of influence that you can feel today?

Coming into the game, I signed my first record deal with The Pack, Sony, BMG, Jive Records. Shout-out to Too $hort, who we signed with. We was on the radio back in the day with the “Vans” song and whatever other songs that we had on the radio during that time. I come from a mainstream music background because I can make big records. I can make hits. I can make records that are for the radio. I can make pop records, pretty much. For me, I was more focused on inspiring the culture and inspiring people and shifting the culture and going down in history. That was my main focus and still is, to shift the culture, make history, and everything will fall into place, right?

Looking back on those early solo days, an early criticism was about the flow. I think NPR back then said it wasn’t very technical. There were criticisms, but how did you respond to that type of feedback?

For me and my flows, I’ve always understood that I’m a real emcee, so that’s what always kept me grounded and in my mind because there’s a lot of songs that people might have thought I freestyled but I actually wrote. And that’s great writing to me. I know I’m an emcee at heart so there’s nothing people could say because I can hang in there with them best of them. Like I said, I make records too.

I’m really just here to inspire, man. That’s what it is. I know my purpose is here to inspire the culture, inspire the world, make history and make more people want to get up and do it because there’s a lot of people that matter. It’s all about time. It’s definitely my time, and it’s going to stay my time, but I’m not the only person in the room. There’s a lot of different people that deserve it right now, deserved it back then, and deserve it in the future.

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