It’s been nearly a year since rapper/spiritual guru Lil B blessed the hallowed halls of New York University with his unique brand of lecture, and electronic provocateurs Silent Drape Runners are marking the occasion by throwing “I’m Lil B,” an event that they’re describing as “A #Rare #Based Live Re-Soundtracking Discussion and Party.” The duo are promising a night featuring a re-scoring of Lil B’s NYU lecture, a panel discussion and a dramatic reading of B’s tweets tonight at Brooklyn art space 285 Kent.
We spoke to members Russ Marshalek and Sophie Weiner about how this party came together, and what Lil B means to them.
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What made you decide to throw a Lil B party?
Russ: I have been thinking about this since the NYU lecture. We, as a band, are most known for doing a re-soundtracking of Twin Peaks, that’s where the name Silent Drape Runners comes from. Basically, I couldn’t go to the lecture last year, but I was watching the videos and reading the Fader transcripts the next day and thought it was something I’d love to re-enact or re-soundtrack. I feel there’s a lot of amazing sentiment in it, as well as a lot of theater, and that’s something Lil B does really well. Over Thanksgiving, I had a lot to drink and realized it had been about a year since the lecture and began thinking what could we do to have a Lil B party? Things just happened from there.
Sophie: He’s such a weird and unique artist that, we know personally a lot of interesting people that have a lot of thoughts about him, so it seemed like an obvious thing to do.
How were you both first exposed to Lil B?
Russ: I remember when Rain in England came out. I downloaded it and listened to it, that is his “new age” record. Nothing struck me other than this was a dude who was going for anything that was in his heart or mind at the time. It didn’t immediately resonate with me at all, but I kept seeing him and coming back. For every three mixtapes of his that he’d release, there would be five songs that stayed on my iPod and that fascinated me. He’s one of those characters where the more famous he gets, the more platforms he got to speak the more interested I became in him and that kind of what started this obsession. I haven’t deleted anything he put out in the past year.
Sophie: I first heard about him through a screenshot of a tweet of his. Way before I ever heard any music of his, I saw his tweets circulating because they’re really weird and they’re everywhere.
How has it been re-scoring the lecture compared to re-scoring Twin Peaks?Russ: I, personally, am a lot less stressed about this. The edit of the Lil B lecture that we’re doing is a third of the length of the pilot of Twin Peaks and the joke is what can you do while watching the opening credits of Twin Peaks? And Lynch fans are ridiculously intense. So, that whole thing was an intense experience, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’m really excited.
Sophie: The way that we usually do this is we create the re-soundtrack out of other songs and samples and stuff and do a few live songs, so my part in the re-soundtracking is waiting for my part and seeing how it fits into everything else. I think this one’s going to be really fun because there’s so much in the lecture itself to be amused by and entertained by and there’s not a lot of pressure on us. Not that much happens in the first episode of Twin Peaks, there’s a lot of crying.
Russ: And there’s a lot less crying in the NYU lecture.
Sophie: I think this one will be a little more fun.
Has there been any response from Lil B himself about the event?
Russ: Not yet. I honestly am not expecting anything. If he said anything, that would be cool.
In the discussion about the event that’s been going around online, some have equated it with being the Lil B equivalent of a “#based Renaissance Festival.” Would you agree with that sentiment?
Russ: That’s a fascinating concept. When I think of a Renaissance Festival, I think of an actual festival with turkey-leg eating and cats jumping through fire. I know that what we’re going for is a celebration of whimsy and an attempt to have a discussion of “Who is Lil B as an artist and a person?” I think back to the Now Age lecture that Prince Rama did at Brooklyn Museum the other week which Sophie and I were fortunate enough to participate in. At the end of this hour-long spectacle of blood, glitter and dancing taking place in a modern art museum, somebody asked one of the Prince Rama sisters how they feel humor fits into it. She turned it back on the guy asking the question by asking “Did it help you connect with it? How did it make you feel?” That’s kind of what we’re going for with this. It’s gonna be a little silly, a little sloppy and a little fun, but ultimately it’s a celebration of this dude who is a social media maven, an amazing artist, an incredibly talented rapper and a lot of people connect with him. If that makes this a “Renaissance Festival” then whatever definition of a “Renaissance Festival” people are using I’m cool with, but also I like cats jumping through flaming hoops.
Sophie: Also, in terms of “creating something from the past,” I think that is not at all what we’re doing. That just brought to mind in the book Retromania by Simon Reynolds, he talks about these re-enactments that have be happening in recent years of historical important cultural events, and I think to re-enact something that happened such a short time ago, in this case would be kind of hilarious and appropriate because Lil B is so of the ephemeral internet culture that’s going on right now. But, when we do these things, we’re not trying to replace the thing that originally existed or do a simulacra copy of it. We are really just trying to create a new piece of art by combining our interpretation of it and the original.
Russ: I’m fascinated with Lil B as a marketer. He’s brilliant. If he ever desperately needed money and wanted to teach how to get online and offline engagement in social media, I’m willing to bet any major agency would throw huge dollars at him because he’s got it. But I’m also really curious to hear what other people have to say and what other vantage points they’re coming from and I hope other people do to.
Do either of you have a particular favorite Lil B song?
Russ: Absolutely. It’s the remix Jean Grae and Phonte did of “Base For Your Face.” In one song it encapsulates everything Lil B is about, and Jean’s verse manages to say every reason that Lil B is as valid of an artist or a rapper as anybody. It’s the perfect song to give to somebody that’s like “I don’t know about but I don’t think I like him.”
Sophie: I like his song “I Hate Myself.” I think it’s a good balance of his introspective side and also it has a really good beat and is a good rap song.