If you’ve looked at the incredibly prolific, California-based rapper Lil B’s twitter at any point over the past few days, you know that he’s just released a new mixtape, Red Flame. B, of course, is heralding it as the greatest of all time. After a couple listens, this seems to be a bit of an exaggeration. Nevertheless, Red Flame is far from a disappointment, the tension between its introspective first half (sample song title: “Hate in My Hart”) and nonsensical conclusion (sample song title: “Bitch Im Bill Clinton”) driving a tape that compares with just about any full-length release in the Based God’s catalog. As one would expect, B brings together a strange, diverse group of beats, so in the spirit of our nonsensical habit of keeping track of awesome things Lil B does in list form, here are the five best things he raps over on Red Flame.
Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman – “Time to Say Goodbye”
The surprisingly moving “New York City Subway” finds Lil B reflecting on how beautiful our city can be in the wintertime. The origin of the sample is hinted at when he references The Godfather and admits to be “eating pasta all alone.” However, these Italian signifiers make his Spanish-language outro and repeated shout-outs to the Latin community seem even stranger than the original choice to rap over the world’s best selling classical artist.
Waka Flocka Flame – “Love Them Gun Sounds”
If Lil B is serious about his claim to the title “rawest rapper alive”–and he certainly appears to be–“Where Dem Based Boys” presents a pretty good case. Whereas Odd Future’s Mellowhype made their own version of Waka Flocka Flame’s brutal underground hit, Lil B takes the track, drops the bitrate and adds a few sound effects and vocal tracks of his own, as if the original were somehow too polished otherwise.
Dido – “Thank You”
On “Dark Skin” Lil B considers what it means to be black in today’s society, combining personal observations (“I can write ten books/ I can’t even wear a hoody without getting funny looks”) with broader thoughts (“You could be a street soldier, you could be a poet/ Just give the world what you owe it”). Rapping over none other than Dido’s “Thank You,” a song that has previously been used by The Game, Snoop Dogg, and, of course, Eminem, B presents a take on racism that’s markedly more sophisticated that the #Grey hashtag that once got him into internet beef with Joe Budden.
Jay Electronica – “Exhibit C”
Generally speaking, there’s nothing surprising about an “Exhibit C” freestyle appearing on a 2010 mixtape. Still, because Lil B has recorded literally hundreds of songs since Jay Electronica’s original dropped, it seemed as if we would never get the chance to hear the Based God go in over Just Blaze’s strings and Billy Stewart vocal sample. Red Flame turns out to have been the perfect home for “Exhibit Based,” as B’s verses about growing up in Berkeley fit right into the mixtape’s lyrically dense opening sequence.
His Own Beats
For all the strange samples and tracks originally lay down by star producers, the most interesting production work on Red Flame might be Lil B’s own. “New Orleans Based” picks up where “The Summer” left off, replacing Mannie Fresh’s “Monkey on the Dick” beat with his own best imitation. His other two tracks, “Like a Groupie” and “Ride Up,” are a bit harder to classify, the former sounding something like more recent bounce music and the latter unmistakeably for its laptop-proof bassline and Lil Jon vocal samples.