Lil B, the legendary Based God himself, hopped off of his Social Media throne last week into the real world to a give a lecture to 500 people in a crammed NYU auditorium to speak on absolutely every topic imaginable in an amazing extension of his cult-like Internet persona. The week before when the news broke that Lil B was invited to lecture the trending wheels almost fell off the bus; some were completely befuddled at the concept, the hip hop purists were thoroughly outraged, and the rest were beyond ecstatic, but how did a rapper with no major label backing and barely any official releases translate a cult following into over 400,000 Twitter followers, 60 million YouTube views, and a lecture at a prestigious university?
Over time Lil B has utilized Social Media to it’s utmost potential. Even back in the infancy of the new web, he was something of a MySpace pioneer with hundreds of different accounts chockfull of free music to download with an ever rotating and updated catalogue of absurd and relentless tracks. His success is a combination of an innate knack for promotion through Social Media coupled with extremely unique content that’s literally impossible for other artists to duplicate. The combination of these two ideas is really what’s driving the bulk of his success; if he was able to accomplish only one of those tasks he would never be as huge as he is right now, but because his prowess on Social Media is almost unmatched, he’s seamlessly translating his fanbase into real world venues.
That takes us right into the heart of his NYU lecture. Over an hour and a half he gave us unreal quotable material, life coach style affirmations, and a singular vision that’s savant like to some and absolutely awe inspiring to others. Over the course of the lecture he covered a massive laundry list of topics: adopting cats from the ASPCA, existential quandaries, the similarities between humans and insects, why we should stop hydraulic fracking, the first announcement of his California garage rock record, and that “Every single person you meet, look at them like a golden million dollar baby”.
His success though Social Media and it’s translation into real world venues is an amazing model for artists who are looking to expand their online presence and brand. There are a few key concepts that have led to his massive cult-like following.
First off, a major aspect is his singular unique vision and content; even if you were to promote yourself as much as Lil B does, without unique content it’s not going to have an inimitable mimetic quality that so much of his work effortlessly achieves. Secondly, Lil B is the perfect combination of an instantly accessible meme with a fully integrated Social Media promotional system backing him up. He’s amassed over 400,00 Twitter followers and over 60 million Youtube views simply from self promotion and word of mouth Social Media sharing. He personally responds to almost every fan that contacts him, while simultaneously releasing a new free mixtape of around 20 songs every three weeks, and on top of that one or two new music videos every week or so. Coupled with his incessant self-promotion, he has a devoted fanbase of fully enthused followers that add on another layer of promotion to what he already does, which reinforces the viral quality of everything he releases.
The reason he was asked to lecture at NYU is almost a byproduct of his success through Social Media. He has an entirely rare and singular approach to everything he releases, and his knack for Social Media has given him an unusually large audience for such strange and sometimes difficult material. On top of that he’s probably the only rapper to have invented a complete philosophy, meme, and movement in which to release and package all of his content, which has spawned an entirely new Based sub-genre unto itself. The NYU lecture is just another stepping stone in what will become a long and storied career for him, and we’re lucky enough to be able trace his entire journey through Social Media and the collective online community.
Below are links for a written transcription of the entire lecture, an audio recording, a really interesting version of the transcription as read through voice recognition software, and some of the most interesting quotables from the night.
Voice Recognition Software Version
Quotes from the Lecture via Pitchfork
- “I’m the first rapper to adopt a tabby cat. I adopted it straight from the ASPCA, you feel me?”
- “When I was younger, I didn’t even know how to walk. I was so self-conscious.”
- “Every single person you meet, look at them like a golden million dollar baby.”
- “I was having these big ant problems in my house. As I was studying these ant colonies. It’s like man, they have their own communities too. I’m there with them.”
- “I’m out here trying to get my Mitt Romney on.”
- “You guys are the first to hear it: I’m actually releasing my rock album. This is gonna be some garage punk. This one’s for the rebels. Look out for the Lil B rock record, California Boy.”
- “Let’s stop fracking. Who knows about hydraulic fracking? I’m like whodie, get that oil out the ocean!”
- “Real talk, you guys are about to freak out because I got a song with one of the biggest artists on Earth coming.”
- At one point, Lil B laid on a table and imitated himself going to sleep, whispering, “Honesty, integrity, friendship, passion…”
- “Until further notice, I’m paying taxes and I’m loving it.”