There are a few reasons I will not be listening to one iota of Lil B’s 855-song mixtape (don't you dare click that), which he released yesterday for the princely sum of one click on a SendSpace link. For one, it’s a collection of every single one of Lil B’s “Based Freestyles,” a.k.a. stream-of-consciousness raps delivered with half the proficiency and, generally, twice the creativity of regular freestyles. Unlike many “freestyles” these days, which are often bunches of pre-written, mostly interchangeable lines that rappers can tailor to a beat (think of David Byrne’s “throw the lyrics into a hat” writing technique, but in your head, in real time), Lil B’s freestyles are genuinely off the cuff. While this is admirable on an abstract level, I’d rather hear some rapper spit a competent freestyle that we all pretend was extemporaneous, rather than hear over 800 iterations of Lil B’s legitimately-extemporaneous-but-ultimately-samey freestyling.
Which brings me to Reason Number Two that I will not be listening to this mixtape. In all likelihood, many, many of the tracks that appear on this monstrosity of a mixtape are recycled ones, just bundled together in the world’s largest odds-and-sods collection. One of the things that people enjoy about Lil B is that his music very explicitly understands how many people (including me) process music these days: as product to be consumed and disposed of, ran through in a contest of “Who can listen to the most stuff?” Lil B understands that if someone listens to one of your songs a thousand times or a thousand of your songs a single time each, it doesn’t matter: they’ve still listened to you a thousand times. While some people might enjoy his music on some condescending ironic hipster shit, it’s impossible to take an extended look at Lil B’s existence and not conclude that he’s a very smart dude. He understands that hyperbolic actions cause people to pay attention, and even though it’s fairly probable that this mixtape will be listened to in full by very few people, it will be talked about by many. Having people know you as “that rapper who puts out million-song mixtapes” is way better than being known as “that rapper I have never heard of.”
But here’s the thing—the thing that Lil B may very well be counting upon, because, time and time again, Lil B has shown a ridiculously complex understanding of how the internet works: Someone will listen to this. They will listen to all of it, and they will review it. Someone will post it on Reddit, and Lil B will probably tweet about it, and then it may very well go viral. I know this because the last time Lil B pulled some shit like this and released a billion-song mixtape entitled Free Music, my friends and I fell for it and reviewed the damn thing. We wrote the vast majority of it in a single night, under the influence of homemade Four Loko. I will not link to the published review.
In March of 2008, Maxim published a review of a Black Crowes album, despite the fact that the writer had not actually heard the album in full. This is completely, 100% journalistically unsound. You have to listen to the stuff you’re writing about before you write about it. This is so self-evident that I feel dumb even having to type that sentence. But you know what? You don’t have to listen to Lil B to know what Lil B’s music is going to sound like. He’s like other off-kilter, hyper-prolific musicians like Guided By Voices or some shit. After a while, you tend to see patterns within the chaos. Just because someone is weird doesn’t mean they can’t also work off of a formula. People who release music 850 songs at a time are not expecting to be listened to. They’s just trolling. I don’t know about you guys, but I want to listen to music by musicians who care about more than publicity. I want to listen to music for adults.