A very rare night with the Based God
We were led a few at a time to the bottom ﬂoor of the New Museum where security simply glanced at our tickets and let us into a shallow room. An odd purple light shined on a raised platform you could hardly call a stage. The faithful in the crowd buzzed with a certain tangible energy—some wore pig costumes, some skirts over cargo pants, some sombreros, some chef hats. We were the 150 blessed with the opportunity to experience what some, including Lil B himself, called a “Very Rare Show”.
As a layered synth and string ambient track looped in the background, I looked around the room at the few that I would be entering the Based World with—a trip that I wasn’t prepared to make. I’d entered with a smirk of irony and sarcasm—I expected to cook, swag, and laugh. And when the lights dimmed, the horn intro to “I Own Swag” began, and the man himself bounced on to stage, I was satisﬁed, my expectations were met. It was the Lil B I knew from the internet. Everything would be ok.
The next ninety minutes were the Based God as expected—the classics “Wonton Soup”, “Bill Bellamy,” etc. interspersed with banter reminiscent of his NYU lecture the night before. Surrounded by the random group of fans he allowed to join him on stage, Lil B rapped the verse and hook from “Vans.” The music then stopped and he signed hats and vans.
“It’s over,” I thought, “This was fun.”
The Based God, however, kept signing autographs and kept talking about some of the darker times in his rap career. The totally unexpected second movement to the based symphony that was this Very Rare Show had just begun—the vibe of the crowd and the artist himself had noticeably shifted. Fittingly, the based orchestra started again with the same string and synth loop that was played pre-show. Lil B announced this as a preview from his “ambient hip-hop album” that is slated to be released soon. The crowd fell silent and the Based God began then an hour long based freestyle that felt like a stream of consciousness overﬂow of his heart—he was our Virgil for this journey into the depths of the Based World. The crowd fell absolutely silent, hushing any vigilante that dared to yell out “Swag!” or “Swoop!” during this tender moment.
Lil B shed this grilled-smile arrogant rapper persona and delved into the real, into the emotional, into his struggle as this huge internet rap sensation, and the crowd was willing to accept this. He commented on the sheer amount of love he felt in the building, even dropping the microphone to his side and turning away from the audience as he began to tear. The smirk of sarcasm faded from my face as the Based God ended what hardly seemed like a show at this point not with a hit song, but with the quiet whimper of the man drained of all emotions. He asked to get a hug from every single person in the crowd, a based altar call, and as the reverbed piano, synth, string loop continued to play, the faithful came forward.
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