On Wednesday night, about 500 students in New York University's Kimmel Center began chanting "Thank you, Based God!" before hip-hop folk hero Lil B even stepped on stage. He didn't keep his fans waiting long, and when he emerged from behind a curtain – sporting a neon yellow t-shirt, a green scarf, jeans and a colorful bindi – the students erupted.
"First off, NYU, I just wanna say I love you," Lil B began, setting the tone for the rest of his rare speaking engagement.
Lil B, 22, is a member of the San Francisco rap crew The Pack, who are best known for their 2006 hit "Vans." However, it wasn't until he began his solo career that he really found his niche. He claims to have created more than 3,000 songs, and he releases a constant stream of free music using his various social media accounts.
Lil B represents a unique lifestyle, which he refers to as "Based." Both he and his fans refer to him as the "Based God," which explains his Twitter handle, @LILBTHEBASEDGOD. In the past, he has insinuated that "Based" essentially means that anything goes at any time. Yet last night, at his sold-out lecture, he redefined "Based" to fit the loving nature of the event: "Based means that you have somebody to trust. [...] It's about really caring," he said. He even clarified his role in the philosophy: "I am not the Based God. The Based God is better than me."
With the exception of the recurring subject of love, it is impossible to pin down any main theme of the night. The unscripted lecture, like some of Lil B's mixtapes, rambled on, aimlessly tackling various topics such as politics ("Let's stop fracking! 'Ey, bruh. Stop messin' with the Earth, bruh.") and philosophy ("Do we have any proof what we are?"). Although it was at times seemingly senseless, Lil B would sporadically touch on something thoughtful, causing some to subvert their previously confident assertions of his lunacy.
Towards the end of the lecture, Lil B revealed some exclusive bits of news to the crowd of students, most of whom remained on their feet for the entirety of the 90-minute presentation. First, he hinted at a major collaboration: "I've got a song with pretty much the biggest artist on Earth," he said. Then, he announced that since he has "already made history in rap," he is going to release a rock album, which he described as garage-punk: "This is gonna be for the rebels," he said.
Following the presentation, Lil B took countless pictures and signed autographs for his fans. Then, he went to Twitter to reflect on the lecture: "Lives have been changed and the positive generation is real. The people do love... new york university and all staff. Love ur hearts - Lil B."
Lil B released a mixtape earlier this week called The Basedprint II, the title of which is inspired by Jay-Z's 2002 album, The Blueprint, Vol. 2. The first track on the mixtape is called "NYU" in honor last night's lecture. He has no current plans to host another lecture, but is set to perform at the New Museum tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Listen to Lil B's lecture here: