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Relive Lil B’s Whartscape Set Via iTunes

January 12, 2011

Live In Baltimore 2010, Bay Area experimental rapper Lil B’s live set from the 2010 Whartscape festival, begins with the self-proclaimed “Based God” walking onstage shouting “swag” a whole bunch of times as M83′s “Can’t Stop” blasts from the speakers. It’s actually pretty exhilarating–but it’s all downhill from there. Most of the time, B isn’t even rapping here, he’s just shouting out the names of bloggers and other web media types, repeating the word “swag” over and over, and dispassionately rapping a line or two from the songs blasting behind him and moving on. The lack of energy is painfully clear when he waddles through a genuinely transcendent track like “I’m God” or half-asses “Vans,” the hit from his group, the Pack. Imagine Lou Reed’s Take No Prisoners, if Lou sang even less, was in an annoyingly good mood, and didn’t know he was acting like a total shitbag.

Here’s the thing: Lil B can be really good. Though the cult around him is obnoxious in a Rocky Horror Picture Show way–shouting lines back at him, wearing costumes, creating insider catchphrases–he’s a charmingly sincere rapper, a lover of things airy and electronic, a genuine music weirdo, and there aren’t too many of them right now. Just look at the cover to this thing (a pigeon in a field of grass) for evidence that B is completely on his own. And check out songs like “Age of Information” or “Hugh Hefner” off the way-too-long, way-too-awesome Red Flame mixtape for further proof. Last time I checked, Sound Garden still had vinyl copies of Lil B’s ambient, spoken-word album Rain In England. Spend some money on that and leave Live In Baltimore 2010 alone.

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