If you wander around Twitter or Myspace (it still exists, I swear!) long enough, you’re bound to run into Lil B from The Pack. The man with the cult following of freaks who pledge their allegiance to the #basedgod has over 155 Myspace pages with five songs each. According to statistics I’ve pulled out of my hat, he happens to outnumber the rest of Myspace’s active users. While investigating the character of the man known as the Based God, every single description included the word “swag.” Testimonials included “swag personified,” “dumb amounts of swag,” and “swag incarnate.” Those are terms that better describe swag trillionaires such as Samuel L. Jackson and Alonzo from Training Day. Unfortunately for Lil B and our collective eardrums, swag does not always translate into musical prowess. Rather, it creates an excuse for a rapper to say “Ellen Degeneres” 16 straight times and call it a hook and have people actually call it “music.” I blame us as a society, we weren’t harsh enough on Mike Jones for repeating himself all the damn time.
Throughout Angels Exodus, Lil B talks about his progression as an artist and how much he’s grown, an argument believable only because he’s got nowhere to go but up. The slow, gloomy piano on “Exhibit 6” sets a dark tone as Lil B goes on incoherently about his pain and how he’s improved, claiming the track to be his version of the Jay Electronica classic “Exhibit C”. Of course, the only difference being “Exhibit C” made people more excited for a Jay Electronica album, while “Exhibit 6” made people more excited to hit the “Skip” button. “Life’s Zombies” gets a boost from the production as Lil B gives a few nods to the gamers who grew up playing the Resident Evil series by mentioning the red, blue, and green herbs. The real joy on this album is the remix to “All My Life”, where we are treated to Lil B singing. Not rapping, SINGING. It’s as bad, if not worse, than you think. Think Macy Gray mixed with a shrieking cat. I’ve laughed at the things that Eminem and Redman have said throughout their careers, but I’ve never laughed at the artists themselves until now. To date, I have not made it through “All My Life” without breaking into hysterics at how bad it is. How have his boys not pulled him to the side during the studio session to let him know he couldn’t release music like this and still be taken seriously? The weirdo bit that he plays up on “All My Life” and “Vampires” is more annoying that innovating and reeks of Lil’ Wayne’s own weird appeal.
Lil B shouts out hip-hop darlings like Jay Electronica and MF DOOM, two rappers who aren’t commonly identified with Lil B, in an effort to reach out to fans of, as he calls it, “real hip-hop” to help bolster his claim that he’s dedicated to making the music that we, as discerning rap fans, will approve of. “Motivation” is that track that proves that Lil B can actually put a good song together, with one of my favorite beats of the year coming from Clams Casino. Sure, it’s mainly about how haters are his motivation (an undying rap cliché) but it’s still a good tune. Coupled with “The Growth”, Lil B makes a case that maybe, just maybe, he is more than just a product of swag-induced hype. It’s not a strong case, and it will likely get tossed out of court due to insufficient evidence, but they’re good enough to not get deleted with the rest of the album once I turn this review in.
And as far as Lil B’s swag goes, there’s a sizeable Lil’ Wayne influence, from name to overall style. And the Cook Dance that Lupe Fiasco and Deion Sanders love so much? That started as an old ska dance. You can have all the swag you want, but it doesn’t always manifest itself on wax, which dooms Angels Exodus. The album reaches comically bad levels on numerous occasions, almost to the point where you think you’re listening to a parody album instead of earnest lyrics written by a terrible rapper. The hip “so bad it’s good” way of thinking that has embraced Lil B has bred laziness as well as acceptance of subpar music. Pray to the Based God that you don’t have to listen to this album against your will.