Last night, rapper Lil B delivered his highly anticipated lecture to NYU students tonight in the university’s Kimmel Center for Student Life.
You’d think that an NYU lecture with an unsigned rapper would sell itself, but Lil B’s self-promotional skills were in overdrive in the days leading up to his public speaking debut. Along with the release of a new NYU-themed mixtape (The Basedprint II), his Twitter feed promised a rare “historical” speaking engagement.
“I’m a watercolor type of dude. Definitely collect some of my rare paintings”
Angelic music, more suited to a wedding procession than a lecture, filled the room as Lil B took to the stage; the noise was punctuated by chants of “Thank you Based God”. He was dressed in a dramatic bright yellow T-shirt and scarf, with an elaborate jeweled bindi on his forehead. Lil B immediately shifted some of the responsibility for the content of the lecture onto the audience, encouraging group discussion: “I want everyone to feel like family, this is not ‘everyone listen to me’”. He calmly admitted that he did not prepare any material for the lecture because he prefers to speak “from the heart”.
This approach did not yield the most coherent of lectures: subjects ranged from architecture to his insect infestation problems. At one point during the lecture he had his hand down his pants. But, these distracting divergences aside, Lil B’s inarticulate ramblings on his life philosophy remained refreshing. He engages with life in its immediacy and is concerned with leaving a positive legacy. The resulting combination fell somewhere between a gospel sermon and a comedy show.
“Congratulations [to your mother] and I pray that she stays alive longer.”
The Q&A session elicited the exclusive news that Lil B’s next project will be a rock album, currently going by the working title California Boy. He claims the album will be “ some real garage punk for the rebels”. Lil B also revealed that a collaboration with Jay-Z is in the works, and took the time to praise Jay-Z and Drake for their originality. Evidently the artwork of Lil B’s most recent mixtape – a Microsoft Paint-grade homage to Jay-Z’s Tha Blueprint II – hasn’t damaged relations between the two rappers.
In many ways Lil B’s lecture style mirrored his musical process: he took bits of different philosophies and, with trademark recklessness, blended them with humorous anecdotes. The opening lines of The Basedprint II track ‘NYU’ ask “They think they know about Lil B, huh?” Only after attending the event did it occur to me that this line was Lil B’s one and only speaking prompt for his lecture. Yet, amid his scatterbrained anecdotes, Lil B presented an authentic message, emphasizing positivity and care for others. As bizarre as Lil B is, he is a man who truly believes his music and embraces being himself.
Based-bites: notable quotes from the evening:
- “Life is hard… kind of”
- “Until further notice, I’m paying my taxes and I’m loving it”
- “Congratulations [to your mother] and I pray that she stays alive longer”
- “I’m a watercolor type of dude. Definitely collect some of my rare paintings”
- “I’m the first rapper to adopt a tabby cat, you know I adopted straight from the ASPCA, you feel me”
- “Embrace yourself. Embrace…your health”