Brandon McCartney. Lil B. BasedGod. Uttering any of those three names will likely result in the following responses: “Whoo,” “Swag,” “Thank you BasedGod” and my personal favorite, “You can fu** my bit** BasedGod.”
McCartney, who originally gained acclaim with his group the Pack’s shoe anthem “Vans,” has since become an internet phenomenon. He epitomizes hustling; mixtapes come out at an alarming rate–some with over 855 songs. And throughout the day McCartney makes sure to attend to his followers on Twitter. He provides encouraging messages for over a million people, giving fans an unlimited supply of “based” for their day.
Music journalist Julianne Shepherd summed up McCartney’s appeal in her piece, “Deconstructing: Lil B.” “Hopefully the reason we love Based G is cause there’s a bit of him in all of us.” I agree with this. It is through McCartney’s alter egos, Lil B and BasedGod, that we find him relatable and ultimately, a person of influence during the digital age.
BasedGod is the more optimistic of the two. He speaks with the insight of a modern-day Confucius, providing commentary on themes like materialism, love and death. Lil B is what has simultaneously built McCartney’s career, and hurt it. He rhymes with a sporadic cadence that follows no pocket, and you can expect each bar to end with an expletive.
Lil B reflects our fascination with celebrities, and the absurd and obscene. As Andrew Marantz states in his piece “The Dumb Brilliance of Lil B,” “We don’t want wry pastiches of ignorant sh*t; we just want ignorant sh*t.”
Such is emphasized by the fact that although McCartney is a competent writer, it’s his more lewd releases that he is known for. Songs like “Suck My Dick Hoe,” “Like A Martian” and the many I-look-like-celebrity tracks he’s written, have taken prominence over songs “The Age of Information” and “Goodbye.”
In songs such as “Charlie Sheen” and “I’m Paris Hilton,” Lil B becomes the celebrities, describing a life of luxury and the copious amounts of sex that comes with it. His innate obsession with the lives of the rich and famous, and his desire to be such, is something we can empathize with.
In reality McCartney is nothing like Lil B. He’s respectful and reserved, and can often be found behind a computer screen. “I have my fantasy world where all the girls love me. But truth be told, I’m at the computer. The computer’s my girlfriend,” explained McCartney to music journalist Andrew Noz in his piece, “Lil B: Understanding Rap’s New Rebel.”
This revelation is why McCartney is admired by so many. He’s come to be known as this world-travelling ladies man when, in actuality, he’s like us. A human being, under the spell of technological advances, and an influx of information.
BasedGod represents this side to McCartney. “I’m on computers profusely / Searching on the internet for answers, give it to me / It’s like I’m married / I’m watching the bloggers heavily,” raps the artist on “The Age of Information.” It’s a confession that bears insight, and provides a grim commentary on today’s internet-dependent generation.
But with BasedGod’s wisdom, comes encouragement. If you read a transcript or a brief synopsis of his lecture at New York University earlier this year, you will understand why so many look to him for motivation. When tickets for the lecture went on sale, the event sold out in 10 minutes.
“We just thought he would have some kind of motivational Inspirational stuff to say to us. He has this really interesting perspective on the world,” explained NYU’s Chair of the Lectures Committee Max Mellman, in Shepherd’s piece. For 80 minutes McCartney discussed acceptance, perseverance and optimism in his own “based” way. And everyone understood.
The NYU lecture is a great example of BasedGod’s appeal. The fact that he’s young contributes greatly, but the success he’s managed to make for himself at a young age, is what his fans admire most. However, McCartney still presents himself as an average person. He talks about constantly learning and understanding the feelings of others, and the struggle to remain positive no matter what.
When we look at McCartney as a human being, only then do we understand our intrigue with him. Every day we envision ourselves as we would like to be seen, trying to find some sort of balance that will result in harmony. McCartney is on that same journey, with two doppelgangers at opposite ends, and himself in the middle. And whether intentional or not, McCartney has become something of a digital age mentor.
McCartney’s alter egos reflect the constant battle between optimism and pessimism; indifference and obsession; enlightenment and ignorance. Through McCartney we see ourselves; he lays himself on the line, his alter egos representing complete opposite desires. And we need this–a person to remind us that our innate obsessions, pessimism and the information that is constantly fed to us, is a never-ending struggle. But to battle past that and lead a positive life is the ultimate goal.
“We hustle hard / No sleep.” These are words music journalist Elijah Watson lives by. Watson is currently a student at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in journalism. He also serves as senior entertainment writer for The Daily Texan, the school’s student newspaper, and a contributor to the college section of the Huffington Post. When he’s not critiquing the next big thing in music, Watson can be found listening to hip-hop, ranting about his desires to be an honorary member of hardcore punk group Trash Talk and making new friends on Twitter.