Yes, these are things that kids in countless smoke-filled dorm rooms can think through with real gravity while still laughing uncontrollably. And there’s something similarly wonderful about the idea of Lil B having ascended, Buddha-style, into an unlikely world where he can release beautifully sloppy stream-of-consciousness mixtapes about blow jobs and inner peace, for free, monthly, and delight college kids by being one of those rare personalities who makes “trying to be a nice person” seem strange, brave, and provocative. (Also, I should confess that the single loudest laugh on my tape recording of the lecture is my own, from the moment when a list of things Lil B dislikes culminated, improbably, with hydraulic fracking.) But one really couldn’t help noting with dismay that some small portion of Lil B’s fan base is inevitably going to be made up of the kind of young man who likes to engage with oddball black musicians in a fashion resembling middle-school boys making their overweight or developmentally disabled peers dance. Who will yell “talk about weed” while Lil B is talking about turning the other cheek. Who, when Lil B asks what people are at NYU for, will find it interesting to yell “second-degree murder” in response. And they will do this, with the same goonish love of absurdity as the average Internet troll’s, while listening to a rapper who spends an incredible amount of time pointing out to them how toxic it is.
At some point, he was offering a warning about the number of predators in the music industry, in business in general …
“Sexual predators,” someone shouted, I suppose in an effort to be funny.
But Lil B is just not funny like that. Lil B’s impulse is not just to take the interjection — with a Will Ferrell–character level of guilelessness — at face value, but to try to say something supportive to the many people he knows to exist in the world who have actually been sexually assaulted. “We’ve dealt with that,” he said. “That’s very uncomfortable for all of us. But I want to tell you — anybody in here who went through hardships like that, or anything — the best thing I can tell you is forgive, cleanse your soul, and forgive yourself. Don’t be hard on yourself.” This — the sound of a guy abandoning all consciousness of the cool way to walk, and trying, in his own halting self-made way, to be really, really good — was greeted by cheers, and laughter, and ironic cheers, and someone yelling, “Thank you, Based God.”
Oh my based god, yes, yes yes, thank you for getting it.