Noted poet and new media artist Brandon McCartney, also known as Lil B, will be performing this evening at the New Museum. A native of Berkeley, California, Lil B has made a name for himself with a mix of confessional and satiric lyrics, and an unheard-of work ethic — he has recorded more than 3,000 songs over the past five years, releasing most of them online.
This is in addition to his development of the “Based” lifestyle, a heady philosophy (with nods to deconstructionism) emphasizing personal expression and encouraging a positive, inclusive attitude among young people. Lil B is best-known for having released an album in 2011 and titling it “I’m Gay,” inviting ridicule and disdain from large segments of the hip hop community, in addition to the admiration of Lupe Fiasco and the bewilderment of DMX.
As a member of the Berkeley group The Pack, Lil B got his first taste of music success at age 16 with the group’s hit “Vans.” Embodying the compulsive, frenetic qualities of the Bay Area’s “hyphy” movement, the song went on to be ranked the 5th best song of 2006 by Rolling Stone. A mix of hyperactive lyrics and laid-back intonation and style has continued to define Lil B’s work as a solo artist.
This is a nominally sold out show, but, if it’s any consolation, he’ll likely only be covering about one percent of his discography tonight. We look forward to the day MoMA gives him the Kraftwerk treatment and announces a complete Lil B retrospective.
— Reid Singer