I think about an imaginary Internet Rap Mount Rushmore more often than I should. Why? Because I enjoy impractical things and because there must be a way for us to show appreciation to the rappers who changed the way music was, and is, consumed and presented. Currently there are only two rappers on my Internet Rap Mount Rushmore, the first being Soulja Boy because of his pioneering use of social media, the other is Lil B.
Lil B’s contributions to rap are often unsung, but almost everything from 6 Kiss on was influential one way or another. Everything from his sometimes off-beat flow, freestyling his lyrics, sample choices and refusal to stop supplying fans with new Lil B music. That is why, when Lil B released his 2017 mixtape Black Ken, it was so strange because every aspect of the project was more thought-out than the usual Lil B release. The flow he used was his attempt to capture the inflection of an ’80s rapper instead of his usual whatever-he-pleases, the lyrics seemed pre-written and the sample choices came from similar source material. This was the first Lil B mixtape where everything felt premeditated, and while it was shocking at first, it’s also part of the reason why an artist like Lil B is so uncommon. There are few artists where, at each release, you have no idea what the project will sound like– the only other artist that comes immediately to mind in this type of scenario is Kanye West. This started to get me thinking about where Black Ken ranks in Lil B’s enormous discography. A discography filled with music that, at times, reaches a point where all you want to do is turn it off entirely, and at other times, it makes you want to share it with every single person you know, because you want to see how your peers react to the vast amount of creativity (and positivity).
That is why we decided to rank the top 10 albums and mixtapes in Lil B’s discography, because over the past decade the BasedGod has given us an overwhelming amount of music worth discussing.
Check it out.
Yes, a considerable portion of the music on Hoop Life is below par for a Lil B project, it tries way too hard to stick to its gimmick and is nearly impossible sit through in a single sitting. But with all that said, Hoop Life changed Lil B’s career and enlarged the BasedGod myth. The mixtape contains “Fuck KD (Kevin Durant diss),” an absurd diss track to an NBA player because of a single tweet, that officially placed Kevin Durant under the BasedGod curse until his signing with the Golden State Warriors years later. It sounds completely idiotic (and it is), but it’s Lil B’s willingness to allow himself to be perceived as a joke at certain times that broadened his appeal. It probably seems insane to some to leave off superior Lil B mixtapes such as Based Jam and Ultimate Bitch, but those are people who didn’t have “I like Roc Nation and I like Jay Z, but on west side I’m screaming fuck KD” stuck in their head for a year straight.
Blue Flame is the mixtape that fully established Lil B’s cult fan base known as “Bitch Mob” or “The Taskforce,” and it is the best example of a mixtape where Lil B is engulfed in his BasedGod persona. The mixtape, which is hosted by DJ Trapaholics, starts off with a ridiculous Lil B rant about skinny jeans, “The only goon nigga in these tiny jeans.” Then, when he begins to rap, he uses the now famous flow which lead many to believe that Lil B couldn’t rap at all– he raps slowly, channeling his nasal passages, and making sure to include plenty of “Swag” and “Woop” ad libs. Another mixtape standout is the Hot Boys “50 Shots Set’s It Off,” sampling homage to Lil Wayne “Free Lil Wayne,” which ultimately lead to Wayne embracing Lil B on the classic “Grove St Party.” The iconic “Wonton Soup,” which is the song considered by many to have pushed mainstream attention onto Lil B, as well as popularizing the cooking dance is one of the pivotal Lil B tracks The “Wonton Soup” hook is catchy and is also home to some essential Lil B lyrics, “Then I Park my car, then I fuck your bitch.” Blue Flame may be the most inaccessible Lil B project and that is part of the reason why it’s treasured by BasedGod die hards, it belongs to them.
If you ever begin to doubt Lil B, remember that this beautiful man stepped into the studio and said, “Pretty bitch party, every girl love I’m a pretty thug,” with a level of confidence that everyone aspires to have. White Flame is Lil B at his most self-assured doing and saying whatever the hell he pleases, and it is amazing to hear an artist that carefree. On White Flame Lil B raps over everything — from sampling the viral video Dilbert 3 on “In Down Bad” to interpolating Daft Punk’s “One More Time” on “BasedGod F*cked My Bitches.” Production-wise, it is one of the most balanced Lil B projects as the soul samples are present along with tracks where Lil B channels Cash Money Records during its peak. Also, the hook on “I’m Fabio” is “I can’t believe it’s not butter I’m Fabio.” Thank you BasedGod.
There is only one rapper alive who could in 2017 release a mixtape rooted in 80’s hip hop and that is Lil B. Black Ken, which many thought would never be released after being teased years before (2010) is the most ambitious Lil B project. Lil B’s homage to his hometown, “Berkeley” is extremely refreshing as it sounds like it belongs in the opening scene of Krush Groove. His projects prior to this, Thugged Out Pissed Off and Free (Based Freestyles Mixtapes), with Chance the Rapper felt more like gimmicks than genuine Lil B projects. He nails the cadence of an 80’s rapper perfectly. On another standout, “DJ BasedGod,” he proves that he is at his best when he develops a scenario for himself. Lil B sets the scene at the party effortlessly (Nas level imagery, dare we say) as you begin to picture him showing up at a House Party-esque function. Black Ken has some brutal lows, such as Lil B’s venture into latin music with “Zam Bose,” but the highs are some of the best Lil B music to date and represents an artist that has established himself to the point where he can take risks this fulfilling.
The Basedprint 2
Lil B’s 2012 run was a time when, every single time you opened your eyes a new 20-track Lil B mixtape would be ready for you to consume– one of the setbacks of this, was the fact that tapes were often overlooked. The Basedprint 2 was one of the projects that got overshadowed, and unfairly so, because it is one of the most cohesive Lil B projects. The project, on its surface is a homage to Jay Z, but production-wise it feels like it’s paying respects to the early style of Kanye West, even sampling “The Whole City Behind Us” on “I’m Focused.” The Basedprint 2 is a Lil B project that should become revered as people begin to embrace him, and if nothing else, it should be the go-to for Lil B fans to show their friends who still think Lil B doesn’t have “bars.”
Evil Red Flame
Evil Red Flame continues the Lil B tradition of the mixtape being completely unrelated to the title, as the project is not evil whatsoever. It’s actually one of the more mellow BasedGod mixtapes as there is a damn Sarah McLachlan “I Will Remember You” sample on “Fuckin With Me” and an entire song dedicated to Lil B listing off his favorite video games (“I Love Video Games”). Evil Red Flame is one of the most enjoyable Lil B projects to go back to, even the comedy is ahead of its time, “Oh my God do you read The Fader…Mad Decent, Fool’s Gold oh my God you’re such a hoe, Diplo,” on “Hipster Girls.” Best of all it is one of the most optimistic projects in Lil B’s discography, “I love the hood but I ain’t gonna die in it but I’ll uplift it.” The positivity starts to rub off on you and it’s satisfying.
Obama BasedGod is one of the most interesting Lil B mixtapes. The laughable title and cover, with Lil B making his own version of Obama’s “Hope” campaign posters is misleading, as the sound of the tape is, again, fairly subdued for Lil B. The production is rooted in both 90’s hip hop and jazz. One of the mixtape standouts, “Put Down the Flags,” includes a sample from the 1975 French jazz album Troupeau Bleu. One of the most influential aspects of Lil B during his massive output peak was that it got to the point where he started freestyling verses. On “Oakland Tech” Lil B frequently seems like he is running out of breath, sometimes chuckling or pausing when he doesn’t know what to say, all over a beat that could fit on Diplomatic Immunity with its sped up “Let’s Get It On” sample. To this day, it is still impossible to know if Obama BasedGod is Lil B’s homage to Obama or a strange fantasy mixtape where Lil B pictures himself running for president, but regardless it remains one of the most accessible Lil B projects.
Illusions of Grandeur
At only 13 tracks, Illusions of Grandeur is one of the most concise and polished Lil B projects. The project is soulful and it was a nice change of pace, as in early 2011 Lil B was becoming more known for his tracks capturing the sound embodied on “Wonton Soup.” One of the most appealing aspects of Illusions of Grandeur is Lil B taking the time out to write and delve into the storytelling side of his rap style. “Based 4 Ya Face,” produced by 9th Wonder, features a Lil B that is a bit more pessimistic than his usual self. Lil B exposes us to his surprisingly level headed side where he acknowledges not everything is perfect, “This is real life from long nights, niggas like me bounce back it’s alright.” On “Baby Baby” we learn more about Lil B’s childhood because he begins to open up more in his music: “Let me tell you like this I had a hard time growing up, didn’t know right from wrong I had to learn myself.” If you’re looking for Lil B at his most honest, Illusions of Grandeur is the project, and oh yeah he raps over Africa’s “Toto” on “How I Feel.” What more can you want?
6 Kiss is one of the most influential rap albums of all time (yup). The production (mostly handled by Clams Casino, Trey G and Keyboard Kid), the inspirations and flows would influence almost everything that came after it in the rap of the youth. This is the album where the popular, and now deceased, sub-genre of rap “cloud rap” was founded, eventually birthing the careers of rappers such as A$AP Rocky. The album starts out with back-to-back Imogen Heap samples on both “Birth of Rap” and “I’m God,” instantly creating the dreamy and light atmosphere that would define cloud rap. On “I’m God” Lil B introduces the world to his BasedGod persona opening with “My new name is BasedGod, ice cream paint job,” as he delves into his criticisms (“bruh think I’m gay cause I’m grinding in my tiny pants bet I’m the only goon nigga in these tiny pants”). There is no other rap album that has a sound comparable to 6 Kiss, with the only thing coming close being Main Attrakionz’s 808s and Dark Grapes II. Although Lil B was still attempting to find his lane, he established a very strong identity with 6 Kiss‘s release.
God’s Father is not only Lil B’s magnum opus, but one of the greatest rap mixtapes of all time. Released in the midst of the most prolific era of Lil B’s career (he released 17 mixtapes and 1 instrumental album in 2012, 5 of which are on this list), it was the mixtape that shifted the Lil B conversation. Prior to the release of God’s Father, Lil B was seen as somewhat of an oddity, some thought he was a joke and others thought he was harmful to the rap genre, but his cult fanbase was undeniable. At 34 tracks, God’s Father is long (very long), but the special thing about it is that it doesn’t feel like a chore. There is not a single song on the mixtape that is skippable. Lil B’s ear for smooth beats and loops, combined with the mixtape’s variety prevents the listener from ever entering a lull.
God’s Father starts out with the cinematic “The Basedgods Layer” which feels like it’s setting the stage for Lil B’s version of a 1990’s Disney animated film. Much like a Disney film, it’s layered with themes about remaining positive and loving others. The production on the project is velvety, with one of the most beautifully interpolated samples coming from the video game Ico on “Flower’s Rise.” Lyrically it is Lil B at his strongest, excelling on tracks such as the introspective “Deep Ass Thoughts” where he reflects over a Active Child harp sample, “I’m on the block cause niggas ain’t dying for me, I know my mom would cause she made me.” As self-analyzing as God’s Father can be, it doesn’t deter Lil B from providing his fans with the absurdity which attracted them to him in the first place, “You better pump it up like Joe Budden cause when I get the pump niggas scatter like roaches.” It is amazing to see an album that takes on the most serious of topics, also be this light-hearted, and that is part of the beauty of Lil B. When everything is going wrong in the world, the BasedGod will always be there with a smile, or else, to “Fuck your bitch,” you just never know.