Hipster rapper. Social media giant. Cyclone Wehner scores some time with Mr Positivity himself, Lil B, in anticipation of his tour Down Under.
Everything that goes around, comes around. California's Brandon McCartney, recording as both Lil B and The BasedGod, has taken the new age rap of PM Dawn and the socially-conscious messages of the Native Tongues and mixed them with Drake-like rumination – and some silly fun. Not since KRS-One with his Temple of Hip Hop has one urban act so cleverly transformed the music culture into a self-help philosophy-cum-movement. McCartney has even published a book about his 'Based' lifestyle: the e-mail-inspired Takin' Over By Imposing The Positive!
McCartney hails from Berkeley in the San Francisco region. He's is a product of his environment – harmonising with, not reacting to it. “I definitely think I'm a part of it. This is a beautiful place to raise a family, raise some kids – you know if you just wanna be around everybody... You can be yourself out here. There's not as much over-the-top judgement. There's a lot of people who are being themselves out here.”
McCartney started out as a teen in the Bay Area outfit The Pack, signed by Too $hort to his Jive imprint Up All Nite. They blew up with 2006's sneaks homage Vans. These days McCartney primarily works solo, forging an alliance with Soulja Boy. McCartney's 2011 Lil B mixtape I'm Gay (I'm Happy) rocketed into the R&B/Hip Hop Chart. Last year his BasedGod album Choices And Flowers cracked the New Age Chart, building on the buzz of 2010's ambient Rain In England. Lest there be any casual slippage, 'Lil B' is distinct from 'The BasedGod', McCartney says. “Lil B is the trendsetter – rapping and just going very hard at being himself, doing what he wants to do, saying what he wants to say. The BasedGod is the composer, the producer. The BasedGod is the one that is better than Lil B – [he is] who Lil B aspires to be.”
McCartney insists that what are regarded as Lil B albums are mixtapes. “I have not had my official album release yet,” he states. “Even I'm Gay, which was critically-acclaimed and was on Billboard, that was not my album. I'm just getting people in store for what I do have coming. My album is gonna definitely change the world. So I wanted to just kind of get the world ready for me.” That Lil B debut is in the pipeline, but he isn't hurrying. “I've been working on it for at least five years now – four-to-five years, well, maybe three-to-four years – and I'd say it's under 50 per cent done, under halfway.” Nor is McCartney ready to unleash a long-canvassed rock album. “People are dying for it, but I can't force that kinda music. I don't wanna fake anything. It has to just come to me. It's just gotta be 100 per cent authentic.”
McCartney perplexes the hip hop contingent – and the wider music media. He belongs to a new generation of rappers who are divisive largely because they're so unorthodox.
“I definitely think I'm a revolutionary with the human rights, the love, the progression of the human race as a whole,” he proffers. “You never, ever seen an artist that had enough respect to do what I did. I titled the mixtape I'm Gay and it went against everything – fans, anybody. I said that and I did that and I put it out there. I didn't ask for any opinion. I just put it out there and I did that myself to help the world – and I'm extremely happy about it. I can go to sleep every day knowing I've done stuff that nobody else has done. I changed rap. I changed rap music. America after Lil B will be a great place. The United States after Lil B will be great.”