Last week my roommate Sam and I hunkered down in a North Jersey basement, armed with nothing but a fridge full of beer and a mission: listen to 50 straight hours of Lil B mixtapes. No sleeping allowed, only venture from the basement when absolutely neccesary, and never stop listening to Basedgod. Collectively we had 1,121 B-released tracks—well over the fifty hours we planned to absorb.
Anyone familiar with Lil B acknowledges that his appeal has more to do with his persona and absurdly prolific recording rate than his technical skill as a rapper, and what better way to truly understand a rapper—and perhaps go intestine-chewingly, bleeding-into-each-other’s-mouths-Eldritch-horror-style insane— than listen to fifty full hours of Basedgod’s music?
As it turns out, there’s more than mere music recorded on Lil B’s many mixtapes. Woven into the droning freestyles and countless claims to be simultaneously the ocean, god and, perhaps least believably, Ellen Degeneres, Sam and I discovered a swag-laden gospel that fell somewhere between a pozzy new-age self-help guide and the makings of a staggeringly powerful, deeply silly cult leader who might have impacted the final outcome of year’s NBA championship.
We indoctrinated ourselves.
1:00 PM: We kick off Based-athon with “Profile Slow,” the first cut off B’s infamous 676-track mixtape Free Music, and the album that will take us through the first 40 hours of our quest. Sam warns me his Basedgod tolerance is “problematically high.”
1:03 PM: Sam retracts his tolerance statement. “I’m gonna eat my words.” “Shit yeah” replies B, apparently speaking directly to us through the power of music. Or laptop speakers.
2:14: While we've committed to spending over two days in a Jersey basement, B tweets about saving the Earth: "IMA GO PLANT FLOWERS AND TREES IN AREAS WHO DONT HAVE ALOT OF THEM TODAY, THIS IS MY GIFT TO THE EARTH AND PEOPLE IN IT... (YOU) - Lil B"
Bastard. Already talking to Basedgod in my head. Not a great sign for what’s to come.
3:48: We play foosball. Free Music is surprisingly consistent, and consistently good, making me suspect the more difficult part of the ordeal will be our self-imposed rule of spending all of our time in one room.
4:29: The phrase “I’d listen to it now, but…” has come up a least five times w/r/t other music we can’t listen to because Lil B’s “got racks on tits,” apparently.
4:48: Sam and I argue over when to start coffee. My position of “an hour ago” is defeated by the more logical “when we really, really need it.”
5:05: Discussion if B could make the perfect song. Decided he could probably make something as pervasive as "A Milli," but conclude technically perfect rap bores him, as evidenced by his choice to loopily freestyle over shit like “Riverdance.”
6:09: The second or third Messianic, mostly talk-y track plays. B expresses understanding that everyone is going through struggles, and insists that he supports you, the listener. This may explain some of the insane devotion to him— tracks like that reinforce what his twitter and tumblr feeds endlessly berate followers with: Basedgod loves you.
8:17: Have accepted Lil B’s voice as permanent noise in my life. Sam kills a spider on his computer screen, proving A. I am a weenie who is still unnerved by spiders existing in the universe and B. Our living conditions are still more problematic to me than the six thousand times B’s already said “swag.”
10:28: Notably, we've changed the lighting from fluorescent to tungsten. Helping tremendously. See also: beer.
10:55: Somewhere between “Life’s Lessons Are In You” and “Lil B Explains The Ocean” I realize B could switch from rapping to preaching, no problem.
1:37: Starting to count down to tracks with interesting titles we haven’t heard before. Once we’re within striking distance of "100,00 Blunts and Counting," the sensation of feeling like a prisoner abruptly kicks in.
2:05: Realize Lil B is combining the two potentially lucrative career choices of rapper and self-help guru. He preaches that positivity helps you achieve success in his rap, and proves his point by being a successful rapper (in terms of fanbase; by hip-hop standards, B isn’t exactly loaded). He follows up another positivity-focused sermon with another freestyle: "you fuckin' broke my heart you bitch" the song starts. It’s a goddamn beautiful juxtaposition.
4:14: Catch myself looking for official Lil B merch online. He had shirts back in '09, but there’s no official apparel for sale anymore. Seems like a missed opportunity to have throngs of Based Apostles wearing his uniform.
6:12 AM: We spend the morning in a haze, mostly reading news articles online and Google-mapping a roadtrip.
12:27 PM: Have accepted B as a component of being alive. Like breathing. The way Christians accept Jesus is always around, just hanging out, watching. Hearing "Based Freestyle" is as common as scratching an itch, or needing to pee. Which I do, a lot, because coffee started around 5 AM last night and has not stopped.
2:34 PM: Basedgod seems to now want people to be robots and "take captive" those who are not based, and take them to Based World (I assume this is a spiritual place, rather than, say, a garage in the Bay Area.) Based Evangelism? Score one for a more literal Basedgod.
5:05 PM: Decide to emerge from the basement for the first time to forage for food. A complex process. Sam and I plug in our iPods, walk out to the car, split headphones while I plug the other ipod into the car speakers, drive to Smashburger, re-plug into our ipods, walk into the restaurant, smile widely to indicate to the cashier that we’re not completely crazy, find this action counterproductive, order our food loudly as to hear over the music and eat in the restaurant, still both listening to B on our respective iPods. Repeat the process on the way home. Try to forget the pained look the manager gave us at Smashburger. “You don’t like our muzak?” his eyes almost seemed to be welling up. How do you explain? It’s not you, man. It’s the Basedgod.
9:56: Pain in my chest like Cameron's Alien is about to burst out of my small intestine. Perhaps it’s the incessant "oh my god" and "I'm so fresh"'s. It could also be the coffee and burger and 39 sleepless hours.
11:03: The emergency Redbull lever is pulled. This does not help my stomach, and in fact triggers a twitch in my left eye that continues from 11:30 to about 3 AM. Said twitch and caffeine-induced anxiety seriously fuck up my foosball game. Sam clobbers me.
2:56 AM: "Spark the world up, light the world up, it's a blunt,” might be the best distillation of Basedgod's message. A Basedprayer.
3:15: Weird sump pump devices start making Eraserhead-esque industrial noises at us. Delirious enough to be genuinely fearful of the plumbing. The plumbing is Not Based.
5:25: Realizing this timespan has not influenced my opinion of Basedgod's music at all. I like his music exactly as much as we did when we started. Nothing has changed; I'm just familiar with more of it. I feel that I have a deeper understanding of B, but that doesn't influence my feelings on his music, just his marketing tactics. Which is perhaps more important w/r/t Basegod, in the end. But, maybe fucking not.
6:00: Hearing screaming that isn't there, getting paranoid and anxious. Household appliances terrify me right now. Losing it.
7:14: Total mental and emotional surrender to Basedgod. It feels sort of nice.
2:46 PM: “Basedprayer” comes on (at some point we broke from Free Music to listen to other mixtapes; I have no idea when we went back to this one). Upon hearing Lil B utter the phrase “Basedprayer,” Sam and I bow our heads. No talking, no conferring with one another. We bow our heads and clasp our hands together as B speaks, occasionally mumbling “preach” or “swag” after B finishes a sentence. When the song finishes, we say “amen” simultaneously, without a trace of irony or facetiousness.
3:01: We play the commercial hit “Vans” to round out the 50 hours, and immediately play Innervisions by Stevie Wonder when the song ends. Nothing has ever sounded sweeter. Except, maybe, “Basedprayer.”
No, fuck it. “Too High” is so, so much better. Swag.