It was Friday evening, the end of the first week of classes at UC Berkeley, and a metamorphosis was taking place. Earlier in the day, students threw Frisbees across the sunny lawn, but as the moon rose over the night sky, Memorial Glade transformed into a spiritual sanctuary. Hundreds of followers, many adorned with pink bandanas as a sign of their devotion, drew toward the grassy field to await their leader. But there was tension. A fight lingered in the air.
In the very front of the crowd, among the most devoted Based God worshipers, two fans had lost their cool and started to shout. A nearby devotee quickly interjected. “Yo, not tonight!” he yelled out, “This is a time to be based.” The two quarrelers calmed down and appeared ashamed. They gave each other a hug and looked up toward the stage. This was no time to fight. Based God was about to hear their prayers.
Lil B, or “BasedGod,” arrived on stage amid a cloud of smoke. Lil B, a rapper and Berkeley native, has created a post-hyphy, post-record label style that challenges the definition of what it means to be an artist. He uses the Internet to create a character out of his presence, regularly drops mixtapes with hundreds of songs and gives continual reminders to his more than 1 million Twitter followers about the importance of love, being based and recycling.
Lil B seems to be constantly telling us about what is important, from his empowering single “No Black Person is Ugly” to his legendary speech at MIT, where he crafted and delivered the quote “Less opinion, more perspective.”
The philosophy of being based has infiltrated the Internet, but with so many characters merely existing online, it is fair to be skeptical of the realness of his ideology. Onstage at UC Berkeley, he challenged any notion that his act is unauthentic. The Based God is a fantastic dancer and an interactive performer. He relished the fact that he was on UC Berkeley’s campus in his hometown and gave shoutouts to all the professors and students. His music retains a bouncy, dreamy, Bay Area style, and he brought it home by playing Vans, a classic from his days with The Pack.
On Friday, he continued his ongoing sermon of positivity. “I ain’t too cool to wear a seatbelt,” he remarked to the crowd after his reminder to “Pay attention, you only got one time.” Lil B stopped one fight Friday night, but this world could definitely benefit from being more based. Keep talking, Lil B. We’re listening.