August 1, 2011

A Reader's Gut Reaction: Lil B - I'm Gay (I'm Happy) (June 29, 2011)

(While I'm off on my vision quest, Michael submits his relatively short and surprisingly to-the-point thoughts on Lil B the Based God's first officially released album, I'm Gay (I'm Happy), a project with an intentionally polarizing title that has received its fair share of accolades, even though the artist's fanbase isn't exactly as large as the Interweb would like you to believe. Leave your thoughts for Michael below.)

True story: about this time last year, I fucking hated Lil B. But as my friends became completely enamored by the man and his popularity gradually began to rise, I couldn’t help but give him a second chance. And guess what? Nothing changed. But then, late one night, as I sipped on a cup of black tea, I found myself on YouTube.

“What should I watch next?” I said quietly to myself; I looked at my teacup for a response.

After giving me a blank stare, my porcelain friend finally gave a short answer. “Lil B.”

My eyes widened. “I wouldn’t dare!” I shouted at the top of my lungs, tears starting to stream down my face.

“Don’t give me that!” My teacup’s eyes pierced my own. He cleared his throat and spoke softly. “Just do it. Trust me.”

I wiped the tears away and exhaled deeply. I typed in Lil B's name and searched through numerous videos. I stumbled upon one for a song entitled “The Age of Information.”

“Huh, interesting title,” I muttered beneath my breath. From the corner of eye, I could see my teacup nod in triumph.

Video fully buffered, I braced myself for the worst. Images of pain and eternal suffering suddenly clouded my head. But then the music began. A beautiful beat graced my ears, followed by some surprisingly deep lyrics from a mellowed out Brandon McCartney. “By jove!” I whispered to myself. “Why, this is incredible!”

“It is, isn’t it?” My teacup flashed me a menacing smile.

I slowly nodded, my mouth agape…

Ever since that surreal experience, which really did happen, I have been a staunch supporter of the former “The Pack” member Lil B. I have since shed my initial ignorance: I now feel the man to be an absolute genius. All of that “Swag, Swag!” and Gucci Mane-flavored noise that most people are aware of is a goddamn front (he even admitted as much in an interview). Beneath the rugged, mainstream coating of Lil B lies an extremely intelligent young man. Songs such as “Wonton Soup”, “Charlie Sheen”, and “Like a Martian” serve as the appetizers for the main course, which consists of entrees such as “Real Life”, “Cold War”, and “Cocaine Killer” (which are all great tracks and should be checked out).

By releasing hundreds of songs for free on the Internet (mostly through his MySpace page), Brandon has amassed a humongous following and has also gained the attention of the hip hop genre as a whole. This strategy has also created a smaller subsection of fans, those who recognize the sheer genius of the duality of this rising star. I would place myself into the latter group. Yeah, I can’t believe it, either.

Things seemed to be going just as planned for Lil B: bitches were being fucked, concerts were being arranged, and the man was simply living a life that was almost too good to be true. But then, in mid-April, all hell broke loose, as Lil B announced that his upcoming album, his first to actually be sold nationwide (his previous projects were all given away as free downloads, thus adding to the myth) would be entitled I'm Gay (although he seemed to forget about the accompanying apostrophe).

The media swarmed towards this story, because being gay is, apparently, a big deal. Who knew? I vividly remember an article on NPR entitled “Can Hip-Hop Handle I’m Gay?”, which made me laugh quite a great deal, because as I was reading the title, every single instance of hearing the word “faggot” in a rap song instantly popped into my head.

Lil B caught a lot of flak for this career choice, and even wound up receiving homophobic death threats, among other jolly concerns. Lil B was quick to explain that he meant to blur the line between the actual definition of the word “gay” and being homosexual, a bold move from a man operating within the fucking hip hop industry. And then he added the parenthetical thought (I'm Happy) to the official album title, thereby diluting any potential controversy right from the get-go.

But I assume that most of you already know the rest of the details behind this story, so I’m not going to waste any more time explaining it. Now let’s get to reviewin’!

The beat to this song is fucking epic. I don’t even care that the word is disgustingly overused nowadays: it is the perfect word for this song. The beautiful guitar sample weaves in and out between Lil B’s bars, creating a truly moving listening experience. This is the Lil B that many of you have never heard before: the one that’s not fucking everybody’s bitch and shouting “Swag!” at completely unnecessary times. This is the Lil B that delivers subtle and incredibly powerful social commentary, so if this isn’t your thing, then you may want to look elsewhere. Also important to note is that Lil B does not have “flow” in its strictest sense; O.C. or Prince Po Lil B most certainly is not. You should probably get used to it.

Being from Northern California, I appreciated Lil B’s shout outs to various cities around the area. I also liked how Lil B complains about sports stars getting paid too much while doctors get paid too little. He utilizes a more traditional flow on this song than compared to “Trapped In Prison,” so this track may appeal to the more conservative hip hop audience a bit more. This song was alright.

“I must be real wack. How’d I get this car?” More real shit from Brandon McCartney, the clever satirist and undercover emcee. Every time Brandon seems to be trailing off into generic rapper hell, he turns back around to deliver more lines with passionate sincerity. Lil B does say “Swag!” on this song, but he saves it for the end, so by the time you get really pissed off, the next song will start. What an oddity this man is.

I envision Lil B growing wings and ascending to Heaven when I listen to this song. What, you don’t? Well, fuck you! An almost cosmic beat makes this song really interesting to listen to.

The beat is adequate, but the sound bites that Lil B included border on absolute pretentiousness. This song was meh. At least it was short.

The mere fact that Lil B sampled Joe Hisaishi's “One Summer’s Day”, which was used in the fantastic movie Spirited Away, automatically makes this song amazing in my book. He spits the same introspective shit he has been doing on the entirety of I'm Gay (I'm Happy) thus far, but the accompanying piano makes you not really care all that much. This song will just make you smile. Nice!

I thought the beat sounded a bit tacky, especially since it is accompanied with a sound bite of our host praising his “Based” lifestyle. This song was pretty bland, although Lil B says some interesting things. Next!

Wow, what a title. This is sort of a melodramatic mess, but since our host actually realizes that he loves himself about four minutes into the song and doesn’t opt out for the cheap “I hate myself because I live in the hood” excuse, I'll give him a pass. This isn't the best song on here (again, it’s way too melodramatic), but it is in no way a bad track.

Although this was pleasant enough, Brandon’s singing towards the end was unnecessary and nearly ruined the entire piece for me.

Has a very 9th Wonder-esque feel to it: very soulful and upbeat. Another win for Brandon.

Once again, our host presents some moral dilemmas for his audience to ponder, all over a truly great instrumental. The music behind Lil B does a great job of amplifying the regrets and fears that Brandon shares with his listeners.

A rich saxophone sample laid over a great breakbeat wraps up this album in a most exquisite fashion. This is by far the most energetic song on the album, and it is fucking good. It sort of mutates into nothing more than an outro about halfway through, but this was still a great way to end the album.

THE LAST WORD: Lil B's I'm Gay (I'm Happy) is one of the best albums that I’ve heard in years. Holy shit, did I really just write that? Nearly every song has great production, and Lil B is… well, Lil B! I will admit that I was disappointed with him not rapping like he did on the aforementioned “The Age Of Information” on this album, but those feelings dissipated after a few additional spins. Lil B actually posted the download link to I'm Gay (I'm Happy) a day after he released it on iTunes for sale, as a way of thanking his fans who may not have had the extra cash to spend, but I would still recommend that you actually purchase this album. Yes, that's right, I just told you to buy a Lil B album.


(Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave your notes below.)


  1. Are you kidding me? The best album you've heard in years??

    You must have been listening to Jeezy or Weezy this entire time. This album is mediocre at best.

  2. Are you 'avin a laugh?

    Is he 'avin a laugh?

  3. A.R. MarksAugust 01, 2011

    What bothers me about B is his delivery. He lacks confidence in his mic presence and it really shows. Like Curren$y, except for some reason, I like Curren$y, just not Lil B. Just like him but I dislike Big Sean and Wiz Khal. *shrug*

  4. is it april the first

  5. listened to it once, expected i still didnt like it and finally i came to the following statement, considering that the "rapper"'s name is "lil" sumthin and that the album's title is "I'm gay" => how the hell have i wasted that much time listenin to this garbage dude doin garbage music???

    PS: thanks lord at least this ain't reviewed (and approved) by max...

  6. if this is the best album youve heard in years you clearly never listened to the reavers!

  7. Good write up for a good album. Too bad there's such an anti Lil B contingent on the net that this album won't be heard by the people who'd prolly appreciate it the most.

  8. This album was ok, nothing special. Not to be homophobic though but the album title is just ridicously stupid

  9. I feel like Lil B has accomplished something that no artists have even come close to doing for nearly a decade: putting their soul into their music. Many of his lyrics surprise me with their brutal honesty, and I think it would be grand if more artists would make me feel the same way. Because of this, I feel like it is the best album I have heard for a very long time. I feel like I wasn't listening to just a good song that was sonically proficient, I was listening to great music that elevated my mind.

    1. AnonymousMay 08, 2013

    2. Michael, I agree 100%. Rap music has long lost its soul. And the reality is that the soul is what made hip hop unique and interesting from the get-go. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to put so-called hip hop heads onto Lil B and they scoff everytime. Lil B is simply the most soulful new rapper of the last decade. easily. Nothing about him feels tired because he's just doing him. Somewhere along the line it became cool in hip hop to be totally derivative. Most so-called hip hop heads would rather listen to typical rappers rhyme about typical, dull bullshit (e.g. Slaughterhouse) rather than embrace people doing something original, unique and soulful. Sure Lil B's weird. I get that. But when did it become such a crime to be weird? You can't complain about the state of hip hop, then turn around and dismiss Lil B, then embrace J Cole (or some other Nas clone). It doesn't make sense to me. Hip hop sucks because a lot of the soul is gone, mainstream and underground. "I'm Gay" isn't a perfect album but I'll take "Open Thunder" (man I used to play the shit out of that track! what a beat!), "Unchain Me", "My Last Chance" & "One Time (Remix)" over A LOT of modern hip hop, from legends still releasing weak product (e.g. Wutang) and new generic niggas (Kendrick Lamar).

  10. I apologize, but I feel that by Lil B dropping such garbage for years and then coming with great production backing but the same shitty rapping he has always had, he's getting a free-pass? Bullshit. The production was good, but the truth is that Lil B is still the same shitty rapper who's been around for years, but this album is backed good production so people ignorantly assume it's good?

    'the fuck have hip hop listeners come to?

  11. The production was good, great even.
    However, I've listened to the album twice, and shit doesn't make my top 10 of the year. Yeah, his emceeing skills are mediocre at bets.

  12. I think I pointed out in the review that he has unconventional flow and it takes getting used to. To the intolerant and conservative rap fan, of course he's going to sound unappealing. What have hip hop listeners come to??

    1. A lot of hip hop listeners aren't open-minded.

  13. MuddyDonutAugust 01, 2011

    Hmm, the best album you have heard in years? My listening experience must have been drastically different. I would list many reasons why this album is bad, but I'm just going to sit back and watch this one.

  14. i agree with the review. the rap is lil b, just not icredibly immature and obnoxious. and the beats are great. unchain me made me go to heaven. then the slowdive, the spirited away sample, the goo goo dolls sample as well as old suicidey japanese sample made me leak

  15. Is this April Fools again? :\

  16. We ask for Lord Finesse and we get Lil B. Goodbye hiphopisntdead 2008-2/8/11.

  17. hahaha lol how the hell is this shit album called "i'm gay" besides "random axe", "lone sharks", "still on the hustle" etc on the top 10 best of the year???? you must be kiddin...if not all you gotta do is kill yourself for disrespectin hip hop

  18. Normally, I wouldn't give a fuck about a rapper with Lil' in his handle (with the expection to the rule: Lil' Fame) but I think I'll actually check this one out. Though as it appears from the review, the title appears to have nothing to do with the content of the album and used only for 'shock' value which is extremely corny.

  19. The Lord Finesse request didn't fall on deaf ears, but I'm currently on hiatus personally. When I'm back full-time, we'll talk.

  20. "Were all one people" as lil b says yet his lyrics which include the hateful slurs that are used toward gays "fruity" "gay bitch". He just wanted attention. Who ever wrote this article should obviously kill himself along with lil b.


  22. figure i'd give Michael a legit comment, whether he sees it or not given the time passed. I always thought Lil B sucked, until i listened to the 3 songs you mentioned in the intro. I knew the guy had content driven songs, but in those songs his flow was under control, making them decent listens. As far as this album, the beats are good and Lil B does have some damn good quotables, but line for line i dont care for everything hes saying, and that dont work for me

  23. AnonymousMay 08, 2013

    This album is fucking HORRIBLE.

  24. I can't pass any comment on Lil B's music as i've never listened to him (and I intend to keep it that way). But I liked the review, especially the intro. Good show.

  25. Michael.

    After all the talk I've heard you spout about hip hop not being as good as it once was, you recommend THIS for a purchase? (I say that after listening to the album in its ear-rapingly painful entirety.) I come to the conclusion that you, sir, give fuck-all about lyricism and probably think Kanye West's music is the best thing since sliced bread.

    The other more disturbing possibility is that you are pushing an agenda here. And this isn't some random comment meant to piss you off. This comment has valid reasons behind it: You quickly foam at the mouth whenever the topic of homosexuality is brought up as if it's the social issue of the century. For your inevitable irritation at this comment, I'll spell it out for you and anyone out there like you: HOMOSEXUALITY IS A CHOCE, NOT A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH. Mind you, I'm not saying homophobia can't be a problem, far from it. Then again, so can all hateful actions regarding race, social classes, etc. And most of those subjects have even worse statistics that are out of a person's control solely because they are NOT choices. Yet by microscopically focusing on this subject in entertainment, you and your peers are distracting the rest of the artists your age from matters of REAL life and death, in this country or abroad, whether you know it or not. So, if you're using this subject as a means to aggressively promote such a choice and have no authentic desire to prevent hate crimes in this and other matters, then fuck you. If not, thank you for your passionate good will but your efforts are much needed in more relevant topics.

    Oh, and motherfuck the Age Of Information by the way: Just because he's exerted some effort into his flow doesn't make him dope. Hell, lil bitch can't even continue a single coherent thought in one fucking verse.