An interview with Lil B is pretty damn rare, both in the conventional sense of the word and the Lil B sense. The guy doesn’t seem to find much time to talk to journalists due to his neverending recording schedule, and when interviews do happen he tends to drop a metric ton of knowledge on whoever he happens to be speaking to, leaving you with the sense that you just had a conversation with a spiritual advisor and not the rapper who’s playing our Village Voice 4Knots Music Festival After Party at the Music Hall of Williamsburg this Saturday. Last week, Lil B and I linked up for a very Based, legendary, and positive Skype conversation while he was in Japan. We discussed his upcoming rock album, animal rights, and his philosophy on life.
What are you doing in Japan?
Right now I’m just chilling. Getting some rest. After this I’m headed to Germany. There’s been great food, I’m seeing the nightlife. Getting a chance to breathe the air. I’ve been enjoying the city, seeing a whole different way of life. It’s just a great time to vacate.
Have you met any fans out there?
Definitely have. I’ve seen some people at the hotel. One of my biggest supporters is from Japan. Osaka. It was great to see her. It was beautiful.
What does it mean to you to have fans all over the world?
It’s great. It’s hard work, and it’s just amazing. I feel like I can go anywhere around the world, people will know. And it’s actually true, you know, there will be a Based Supporter wherever, and that’s positive. It’s just great to have people around who are on the same vibe. Peace, positivity, loved, Based, having a good time, just being theirselves.
When was the last time you played New York?
Maybe last year. I did a rare performance at a museum. That was cool. Very modern. This is gonna be crazy. Gonna be a whole ‘nother vibe with you guys, gonna be historical. What I got in store for my career is crazy. A lot of twists and turns.
Where do you see your career going from here?
A lot of great plans. A lot of surprises, really. A lot of things I can’t tell right now. Something I’m really excited for is my rock album. I don’t force anything, so that’s why it has been taking a while. And plus, the instrumentation will be live. I gotta get a chance to get back in the studio with my dude Drew Campbell. I think the world’s gonna be tripping out on that.
One of my favorite songs of yours is “California Boy.”
Thank you so much. What’s crazy to me is, like, that’s one of my favorite songs ever. It’s a legendary song, and, like, the whole album is just gonna be legendary. As a real supporter of indie rock and rock in general, I’m definitely trying to pay my homage and just have fun. I know people are gonna look at me crazy or might not take me as seriously as possible with rock music, and it’s cool. Just listen to the song and close your eyes. Go to another dimension. Go to another realm.
What albums were you listening to at an early age?
Man. Devo. Brandy. Stuff like that, that really hits close to home. Bone Thugz. Stuff that you hear and just want to cry. That’s what made me, that’s what molded me, stuff that’s really important. Sometimes you’re bred to do stuff. I was bred to do this.
What made you decide to do the “I Love You” video where you cried at the end?
That pet store was a special place to me. That was a part of my childhood; that’s where I spent a lot of my time. The people there were people who I’d known for years, people who’d known me since I was a little kid walking around the community. They always showed me love, let me hang out at the back counters, hold the reptiles, when they’d do Fourth of July parties they’d let me hang out, hold the reptiles, hold the snakes, give me a place to be safe at. They’re just really nice people. And that gave me the love in my heart that I have today for people who might not look exactly like me. But they implanted so much love in my heart. That’s why I am today. That’s why I don’t judge anyone today and why I’ve got love.
Tell me about the philosophy behind, “Protect Lil B at all costs.”
I’m a real positive person. Non-violent. Love everybody. I’m definitely an asset to the world. I see you and me. I, me and you. I see something in your family. I can see love. But does the world see it? I feel like I need to be protected. I have to be here to spread this love. The love that I have is one of a kind. I need to survive so the next generation of people can live with so much love and be that much better. Life is so great. Life is so fun. Life is so great in my head because I see the love. I see what life could be. As long as I can fulfill it and fulfill my days, it will be fruitful and come about.
What’s your vision of a perfect human society?
One based solely off of love. That’s all you need. Giving the right of way. That will heal a lot. That’s something I’m actually talking about in my next book. I’ve started writing little bitty concepts, but I haven’t gotten too deep in it. Love and giving the right of way. That’s the tone of my world.
How do you feel about being alive?
Life’s hard. Super hard, man. I just dropped a video called “Life’s Hard.” Opening verse I say, “Respect. I got a lot of problems/ But okay, it takes a lot to solve ’em/ Don’t rush/ Don’t fuss/ Keep your hands together/ and just trust/ A sucka said I’d never make it major/ Homie, you sound like a hater/ I’m trying to build a couple schools, teach what you love and do what you do.” It’s a lot of love. That’s how I feel. Life is hard. It makes you frustrated. People gotta be able to admit, “I’m not right about this. I don’t understand this.” It’s hard for people to not be right. But people just gotta be able to be themselves and be taught something from the person who they disagree with to the person that’s cooking for you to the person that’s garbage to the lawyer to the top. Everybody should be able to get something from somebody.
When you spoke at NYU, you said something that really resonated with me. You said, “Nobody asked to be born.”
That’s the big thing for me. Getting older, that’s a new thing for me as a new positive point that I was in. I felt very mature seeing that and proud of myself. I was proud to put that out there like, “Dude. We didn’t have to be born. We were put in this position.” That made me a lot happier. Life is a thing we’re given, and it makes you think even deeper about people. That’s why I feel like I need to be a judge and be in a high-powered position who makes decisions for the people. I’m thinking for the people and seeing situations and trying to learn in every situation. As long as someone invites me into their house metaphorically and I learn from them, that’s what keeps me going. It’s just about having friends loving people, having a network. Loving people and embracing who they are. Even if you don’t have anything to learn from somebody, realize that they are this way for whatever reasons, and that’s beautiful. They’re different from me, but we’re the same. This is what makes us different, and I love it.
Let’s talk about KeKe the Based Cat.
How has pet ownership affected you?
True love. It brought me closer to the energies of everything, even to the point of feeling empathy for the insects and animals and say, “Hey. I’m gonna make this choice of whether I’m going to kill this fly or not.” This fly has a soul too. I’ve seen these flies and other flies interacting. They’re obviously smart. I hold this animal to a high pedestal. I love this animal as I love a person. Animal love is real. She’s forced to live with me in a house. She gets outside, always has air, always has two different foods to choose from–very healthy. Always got water outside for her to drink, always has grass for her and other vegetables for her to eat. She always has toys. We’re always talking. I raised her since she was in my hand. We have a very strong relationship; she has a very strong relationship with one of my family members. If me and my family member are arguing or even just talking in a great way, she loves to come hang out, be a part of that. The cat’s very alive, very in tune with what’s going on. I love animals, and I know animals deserve to die happy. I don’t know what’s going on on earth. Earth is very complex. There’s a lot of real stuff going on.
Who takes care of KeKe when you’re out of town?
I’ve got a special family member that goes by the house and is there while I’m gone.
What do you mean by, “Animals deserve to die happy?”
I don’t know what’s going on on this earth. I was born into set ways that were going on in America before me. The meatpacking factories were there. They have a system that they’re running. All I can say is that when there’s a baby animal being born, we put these animals in positions. You can either hurt a puppy and make its life horrible, or you can train it to be your guide dog. You can train it to be a dog that’s going to attack people and be cold to it–it won’t be the best dog it can be in society. It’ll bite other people. My cat has my personality. My cat isn’t violent. My cat’s a loving cat. My cat jokes. Not like talking jokes, but my cat does funny things. It’ll hide around the corner. We have games that we play together. This is serious. This cat’s smart. It’s all about how you respect these creatures. I feel bad that I have a pet. This cat deserves to be free even though she’s as happy as ever in this house. But my cat ran away before, and when she came home she was purring for a day or two because she’s seen what it was like outside. She was under the car around the house. My mom found her. I could look at her like, “Oh my cat’s going crazy. She’s doing these crazy things.” But what’s really going on?
What is your favorite Lil B song?
It’s too many, man. I really can’t say. I love everything from when I first started to now. I started rapping when I was around 14. My favorite? I love everything. Every verse for me has something special in it, something you can take away from. I’m waiting to find my favorite. I listen to everything I’ve got. That would be selling myself short because everything is so great. I’m just at the point where I’m accepting, and I love it. Now it’s kinda like, “What do other people think?” It’s really about what you like. My stuff has been that real since I started. I don’t know how it happened. It was meant to be. I’m waiting to see what Lil B’s gonna do next.
It’s really an honor to be able to speak with you.
Thank you so much. Honestly, I was just getting off the phone with some weirdo, and I was having to not even be myself. I was having to be arrogant, because this person was like, (affects journalist voice), “So, uh, tell me, Little B, with the rock album with the producers, do they know the Based God?” And it’s like, “You’re wasting my time, bruh.” I get so close to hanging up on people, but I gotta keep is positive. But sometimes you gotta hang up, because you don’t want to waste your breath. This is myself. That information I told you about KeKe, that was real. That was something I’d never told anybody else. My experience with my cat is very special, and that whole philosophy on how I feel about that is something that’s very deep and personal to me. If people really care and listen, they’ll be changed.
Please let the world know about how I do feel about the animals, and how passionate I am that we put them equally. These animals are probably talking to other animals and telling them about you. This is something I honestly feel. I feel like if you kill a bee, a bee might tell the other bees like, “Hey, you should go sting that human because he killed that bee.” Or if you treat a dog bad, that dog might be like, “Hey, these humans are assholes.” There’s a lot of boats going in the water and killing the fish so they might be like, “Hey. The next human that comes in the water, we’re gonna rip ’em apart because I hate humans that fish. The motherfuckers on these boats–every time I see a boat, some oil’s coming in the water and it’s killing my dolphin son, so Imma just bite the next person’s foot off that I see.” Let’s care that much to think. Once people care that much to think the world’ll be better.