While Lil B's legacy as a weirdo rapper and sports soothsayer has now been set in stone, the works that influenced everyone from Lil Yachty to Kendrick Lamar (it's not a coincidence that the only rapper to win a Pulitzer cites B as a hero) weren't widely available for some time. Previously, the BasedGod's prolific output was confined to mixtape hub DatPiff, with a few full-lengths making their way to the iTunes store and many more singles only available via his YouTube channel. These seminal tapes were in danger of fading into the past, but something amazing began happening last week when these seemingly unstreamable projects (there are many flagrant, likely uncleared sample flips and reused beats on these things) slowly appeared on streaming services.
Now, the vast majority of Lil B's body of work is here to stream with his blessing. It's still an overwhelmingly large amount of material, with many tapes containing more than 90 minutes of music. While eventually you grow accustomed to consuming such er, creatively mixed and freewheeling music en masse, not all ears are attuned to BasedMusic on arrival. Here's an introduction to Lil B's crucial tapes, the ones that do the best job of summing up his many facets and demonstrate how much of the modern rap landscape is made in his image.
6 Kiss (2009)
One of B's earliest proper releases, 6 Kiss is startlingly confident in its embrace of spaced-out textures and in B's innocent, optimistic viewpoint. It's also where cloud rap architect Clams Casino first began working with the BasedGod, and his beats for "I'm God" and "What You Doin'" are still ahead of their time. Put on the Imogen Heap-sampling origin story "B.O.R." for anyone who doubts that B can actually rap when he feels like it.
Blue Flame (2010)
With its casual, tossed-off eclecticism, Blue Flame provides the blueprint for many of B's future projects. The pseudo Rick Ross/Waka Flocka aggro-rap caricature that made him famous first appears here in bombastic meme-bangers like "I'm Paris Hilton," and "Mel Gibson," containing all the "WOO WOO" and "SWAG" ad-libs you've come to love (or hate). Of course, there's also the viral hit "Wonton Soup" ("bitches suck my dick cause I look like J.K. Rowling"), and excursions into boom-bap ("Blue Flame Remix") and Southern trunk rattlers ("The Based Bible").
Red Flame (2010)
Personally, I'd argue that Red Flame is the definitive Lil B tape. It's Wayne-esque in its punkish disregard but structurally ingenious, cruising between styles for its first two-thirds before finishing with an EP's worth of gloriously obnoxious and strange trap. Both sides are worthy, with B taking on music by Jay Electronica and Andrea Bocelli (yes, really) on that first part and then adopting the identities of presidents and pop stars in the climactic final stretch. Red Flame is an experience that must be heard to be believed.
Rain in England (2010)
Easily the most unique and #rare item in B's oeuvre, Rain in England is genuinely unprecedented: a set of lengthy, self-produced ambient soundscapes over which the BasedGod freestyles about spirituality, love, and life itself. It is possibly the world's best-known new-age hip-hop album. B's platitudes come off less self-righteous than, say, J. Cole's because of his childlike wonder at humanity's existence ("birth is so amazing" "women are so beautiful"). Rain in England is the sound of discovering life's silver linings in real time.
I'm Gay (2011)
The title heard around the rap world, I'm Gay is the closest Lil B has come to making a real conscious rap album with its themes of mental slavery and its Marvin Gaye-referencing artwork. It's still skewed, though: the cloudy samples run the gamut from Slowdive to Spirited Away to the Goo Goo Dolls to the doomed Japanese idol Yukiko Okada. The album's relatively short length and clean mix (it was marketed as a retail LP instead of a mixtape) make it accessible to the uninitiated, though, and when you have music as transcendent as the Clams Casino-produced "Unchain Me" on here, I'm Gay is an easy recommendation.
God's Father (2012)
If Red Flame is Lil B's accidental classic, then God's Father is his intentional masterpiece. It's a two-hour journey through BasedWorld that never drags, thanks to careful sequencing and some genuinely iconic highlights. Here's "I Own Swag," the David Banner diss track that outlasted the beef to become a cooking dance mainstay. There's "I Love You," the most heartwarming expression of acceptance and joy in B's catalogue. In between is a DIY rap record that's thrilling, soothing, funny, and oddly revelatory, just like life itself.
Hoop Life (2014)
Hoop Life is a concept album of sorts, themed around the NBA and Lil B's love for basketball. That focus extends to the music, much of which is Bay Area-styled post-hyphy that's as warm and inviting as a summer day. This consistency is only interrupted by the monumental Kevin Durant diss "Fuck KD," a song that (maybe) created the Golden State Warriors as we know them today. Ironic that the album most associated with the unforgiving BasedGod's curse is also one of his friendliest releases overall.
Phil is repping BasedWorld on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Noisey CA.