Lil B The Based God
has influenced countless trends, flows, and marketing strategies for the past couple of decades. He’s known for his Based philosophy, which promotes peace, positivity & enjoyment.
Many of his projects are released with a range of 50-100 compositions each, speaking on his accomplishments and philosophy of Takin' Over by Imposing the Positive!, which also serves as his first book.
The influential artist, writer, entrepreneur, and activist shared a phone call with me to discuss his project, Bruno Wit da Pruno, social injustices in America, a possible 1v1 with Kevin Durant, and much more!
DW: So Bruno Wit da Pruno, how’d the name of the album come about?
Lil B: Yeah you know, "Bruno" was a nickname of mine that I gave myself as a kid. A "pruno" is a drink that people make while they are incarcerated. With the school-to-prison pipeline and the disproportionate amount of Black American people in jail, the tape represents just that; it’s a duality that goes on in my life and many people’s lives. You know - one foot in, one foot out. Living this lifestyle, coming into the game as an American, a descendant of slavery. Meaning, I was born with no wealth passed down, no property, and no gifts of cash. An American, who started from zero and came in, making it from zero.
That’s pretty much what that mixtape is about and what that title represents.
DW: I know The Based God definitely represents positivity & enjoying life… I see that in “X Feen” & “Poppin Champagne” and then the album transitions into records like “I am George Floyd” & “Letter to Willie Lynch,” you talk about some real sh*t.
Specifically, I wanted to ask you about those *2 records:
Do you think you could detail more about the inspiration, creative process, and the message behind them?
Lil B: Yeah so you know the artworks I created with that and what was said, was pretty much with everything going on right now and me having my feelings not really understanding what was going on at the time with George Floyd & seeing the country shifting.
You know, really promoting that black lives matter & putting black lives on the front page right now. It should [be on the front page] because of the lineage of Black American people, specifically descendants of American slavery and it’s good seeing the outward support. Putting it out there and making it a quote-on-quote “cool thing” to talk about.
But the Letter to Willie Lynch, was an idea, putting out a theory and letting the people get another perspective of what’s possible, what could, and what couldn’t.
Just getting an idea of what’s going on, talking about the media, and the different parts that are being played within the time we are in currently.
DW: If I’m not mistaken, Willie Lynch was actually a speech from a slave owner speaking on how he found success in putting his slaves against each other. Has that theme influenced the song? I definitely see that idea in our country, especially with how the CIA put crack in black neighborhoods in the ’80s, which was an example of how the Willie Lynch theory played out in America.
What’s your opinion?
Lil B: I think that Willie Lynch's theory is the stuff that you can see today in the media and the news.
DW: Like propaganda?
Lil B: Exactly, you’re desensitized to a lot of different things; it’s prevalent. There are a lot of dots you can connect if you can see them.
DW: It’s definitely a very relevant issue that’s happening in America and I don’t think anyone should shy away from this topic since it’s affecting so much & so many people.
Lil B: Mhm mhm, yup!
DW: I actually wanted to talk about “Fader Front Cover.” I know you released this song in 2010, there’s this line that goes “2010 was amazing” and you were actually on the front cover of The Fader’s issue #71.
What made you want to re-release this song a decade later?
How have you grown?
What’s different between now and then?
"It’s just about being at peace, being yourself fully, and being Based."
Lil B: Releasing the song shows growth & represents a time capsule of that period. Being at least 10 years or more, I brought the song out of the vault to give thanks to The Fader & show people the evolution from where I was, mentally, to where I’m at right now.
Big respect & shoutouts to The Fader; there are a lot of great people out there that helped shift the culture.
The Fader plays a big part, as well as Pitchfork, and other publications like yourself, to propel the music.
DW: That’s fire! I remember hearing that track when I was like 10 years old, with the Miley Cyrus sample… it was heat!
What was your turning point in becoming the Based God?
You’ve spoken about how you haven’t fully reached the Based God form and if you ever will… but what‘s the turning point?
What do you consider is reaching that moment?
Lil B: It’s just about being at peace, being yourself fully, and being Based. I’m the closest I’ve ever been, you know, Lil B is the Based God, while at that same time, the Based God is perfect. It’s a long way to go but that’s why it’s worth working for.
In this situation, the juice is worth the squeeze, so it’s just about staying positive.
The Based God was found through Based Freestyles and the work of Lil B, so you know, it just took time, ideas & creativity.
DW: I really love your idea of effortless creativity; that has always stuck with me.
Lil B: Thank you.
DW: Since we’re speaking on the Based God, your influence & pioneering into meme marketing:
You started with having a cult following on social media & had memes about yourself.
How have you reacted to that?
Drake, for example, uses easily replicable dance motions in, “Hotline Bling” and turns it into a meme or the “Tootsie Slide,” which targets many TikTok dances.
What’s your opinion of this style of marketing and the shifts towards different styles & markets?
Lil B: I did create the first meme in hip hop, “Thank you, Based God”.
Creating TYBG, just took off, and seeing where we are now and how memes are so prevalent - for me, it was just being around for a long time and seeing a lot of artists grow.
It’s been a blessing because there was a point in time when I was pretty much the only artist doing what I was doing. It was just a very, very unique time.
DW: I know you got some flak for it, I mean it’s the internet, and everyone has an opinion.
How do you feel about that flak vs. how it has grown now?
Every celebrity now uses memes on social media to get more clicks, streams, and views, but you were the first one to start it, you know?
Lil B: I think as long as it’s authentic, from the heart, and if you’re from that culture - I think it’s great!
I took the internet flak in order for everybody to be where we are now.
That’s what I said in my music, a decade ago. I said:
“I’m doing this for everybody to make money.”
I wanted everybody in music, to be able to make money and even more than what they're already making.
So that’s why we are where we are today, and that’s why I made the decision to get myself to where I am today, which is just a starting point, and there’s way further to go.
I’m just really happy about where music is right now. I can’t feel any other way besides happy because I see the Based God in so many different artists, businesses, marketing, etc.
DW: Did you ever think it would get this far?
Did you ever think this meme marketing would reach its peak starting from TYBG?
Lil B: I never really thought about it like that.
Everything coming from me is authentic, so you know, it’s coming from an authentic place.
From [TYBG] whatever happens, happens. I never thought about what’s big or what’s small - it’s just from the heart.
DW: Effortless creativity, once again.
So, have you been keeping up with the NBA?
Lil B: I have slightly, since the bubble.
The coronavirus has changed up a lot, but I checked up on who was in the playoffs right now.
DW: Have you been watching Damian Lillard?
Lil B: Yeah! That man’s been going crazy, going crazy!
DW: I’m asking about the NBA because I know you called Kevin Durant out for a 1v1 a while back.
Has that taken place yet? Have you given him buckets yet?
Lil B: Not yet but I’m confident it’ll happen. It just needs to be the right time.
I’m excited for when it’ll happen, you guys will know about it, and you guys will hear about it.
DW: I definitely need to see that! It’s a highly anticipated matchup!
Lil B: Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah! It’s going to be worth the wait, trust that!
DW: So last question, what’s next for the Based God? What’s in the cards for Lil B?
Lil B: Tech.
I got an app that I’m working on right now and I’m excited about; starting a company with a few gentlemen.
DW: Can you release any details about the app?
Lil B: I can’t… yet. I’m almost there.
We’ve been having some interesting meetings with some powerful legal firms to make sure we can do what we want to do.
We gotta switch it up a little bit, because from what we’re hearing, it’s going to cost upwards of 500k to 1M, just to do what we want, legally.
Lil B: But I’m confident that we’ll be able to go back to the original idea once it hits the market & fans are garnered…
I’m really excited about this app man!
We’ve been working on it for a long time now. I’m working with some great, great developers, ya know! Some were working at Yelp & other companies alike, but I want you to check out the Tize app, T-I-Z-E.
That’s one of the gentlemen who’s part of the team; he created that app with a few other people; that’s the best beat-making app on the market.
It’s just a lot coming man… tech, and stuff, but right now I’m just taking it one day at a time.
Ima be hitting my vision board soon, but like I said, I’ve just been floating with life right now - loving it!
Letting it be! Being here, shut off my phone all day yesterday, didn’t answer one call, so just being here man, being peaceful, ya know?
DW: That’s good to hear!
I think a bit of positivity and a bit of Based God is needed in the world, especially right now.
Lil B: Yessir! We all are very much needed with peace, love, and good people.
Everybody playing their part from the photo, to the interview, to the music, to me & you, to the love and everything all around us, so thank you!