A lot of artists under the age of 30 find it natural to promote themselves and their work online. But the Bay Area rapper Lil B, and Steve Roggenbuck, in conversation with each other on this episode, both put social media at the center of their art. Their work lives and expands online, in an ceaseless stream of tweets and self-produced YouTube videos. Both artists communicate constantly with their fans, who speak to each other in the specialized idioms of their respective communities: Lil B’s followers gather around the idea of anything #based – a notion he says has to do with “Just being who you are, and not afraid of that.”
Roggenbuck’s fans assemble under the hashtag of #YOLO— theirs is an ecstatically earnest embrace of the beauty and absurdity of life on earth in 2016.
Lil B also embraces the absurd, but his work is darker and more ambiguous. One the one hand, he can be overwhelmingly earnest and positive: the video for his track “I Love You” ends with Lil B weeping in a pet store, surrounded by aquariums, giving thanks for everyone in his life.
He distributes his music mostly through hours-long mixtapes, some with nearly fifty tracks. His fans delight in discovering nuggets of lyrical genius buried within hours of first-take freestyles that range from brilliantly rough-edged to difficult-to- listen-to.
Lil B inhabits a wide range of personae: he’s a self-described feminist urging his listeners to “stand up against rape” in one track, and then talks about “bitches” as currency in another. He recently posted a transphobic tweet that read, “I might start saying I’m trans and I’m a woman so I can be in the girls locker room with the ladies!!!!!!” He later apologized, saying, “I am transphobic and I need help to learn to accept.”
Steve Roggenbuck asked Lil B about this incident and others, including the importance of his musical partnership with his adopted tabby cat, Keke.