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Brandon McCartney, best known by his stage name Lil B or the Based God, is an influential rapper from Berkeley, California, known for his off-tempo rhymes, extensive social media usage and an exceptionally devoted fanbase. He has been also described as a prolific songwriter, having released thousands of songs since 2004, including more than 600 that were released on the social networking site MySpace by 2010.
Lil B began rapping with the San Francisco-based hip hop group The Pack in 2004, releasing two mixtapes that were locally successful before seeing mainstream attention with the 2006 single “Vans,” (shown below, left) which Rolling Stone ranked at #5 in its Top Tracks of 2006. By April 2009, he had uploaded dozens of solo songs across at least 114 different MySpace pages he called his “novelty pages,” which has been also referenced in his song “My Life’s a Dream” (shown below, right). Each account was numbered chronologically and documented the way his music changed, abandoning rhyme schemes around page 60 and rambling about eating with monkeys in space in the 100s. Many of these pages have since been deleted, but archives remain on Digital Dripped and Hulkshare. As of February 2013, his main MySpace page is still live, where his tracks have gained more than 1.7 million plays.
In March 2008, Lil B joined YouTube and uploaded his first video on April 8th, showing an instructional session of him learning how to shoot a gun (shown below, left). The channel has since expanded to include music videos and has more than 81.8 million views as of February 2013. Also in 2008, his solo work was featured on Real Talk NY, resulting in a handful of positive comments about the rapper. The next year, Lil B launched a homepage, BasedWorld, and a Twitter account, which has more than 620,000 followers as of February 2013. He also began selling his music on iTunes, opening up his music to a wider audience. In 2009, Lil B was featured on NPR, The Seattle Times and the Fader, who called him “the internet’s savviest” rapper.
Also in 2009, the term “based” began taking off, in reference to Lil B’s nickname “Based God.” Lil B has defined the term as being true to onesself and not caring about other’s opinions. That year, a blog post explaining the various levels of based a person could attain began circulating on MySpace.
On May 4th, 2010, Lil B created a Facebook page to directly interact with his fans, which has gained more than 293,000 likes as of February 2013. In July, a fan-run single topic Tumblr called Thank You Based God launched, featuring images, videos and quotes from the rapper. A few months later, the first definition for Lil B was added to Urban Dictionary on November 2010. Throughout 2010, his music was reviewed and discussed by the New York Times, MTV, SF Weekly, Pitchfork, Fact Magazine and Mostly Junk Food. In December, the rapper joined Tumblr and observing this, Complexpredicted that Lil B would blow up the following year, thanks not only to his free music but because of his deft navigation of social media.
Most Popular Videos
In April 2011, Lil B announced onstage at the Coachella music festival that his next mixtape would be titled “I’m Gay.” Following the announcement, however, Lil B began receiving hateful messages and death threats from the community, despite him claiming his heterosexuality. Additionally, many members of the LGBTQ community, as well as rapper DMX, saw the announcement as a publicity stunt intending to sell his project. The album was released June 29th, 2011, with the amended title “I’m Gay (I’m Happy),” featuring songs discussing race relations, poverty and the justice system, never mentioning homosexuality. News of the album was shared on The Fader, Billboard and MTV before Lil B chose to make the album available for free download on July 1st.
Lil B’s fans in general are known as the Bitch Mob, with an elite faction known as the Task Force, who swear to protect Lil B at all costs. He has written songs dedicated to both groups, in support for his fans. The Task Force song (shown below, left) specifies that these fans should not only be based themselves, but they have to be one of the top commenters on Lil B’s social media sites. In early February 2013, members of the Task Force caused Brooklyn-based rapper Joey Bada$$ to delete his Twitter account after he got into a fight with Lil B, which lasted over the course of several diss tracks and social media mentions. After Task Force members took to harassing Joey Bada$$ over Twitter, he called them “gay ass computer nerds” and deactivated his account.
“Thank You Based God”
The phrase “Thank You Based God” was popularized in late 2010, reflecting the cultish nature of Lil B’s fans, who attribute any positive experience to the rapper. One of the earliest known uses of the phrase appeared in a blog post on Destructural explaining the allure of Lil B on July 28th, 2010. By November, a Facebook fan page launched, accruing more than 7500 likes by February 2013. In May 2011, TYBG was first defined on Urban Dictionary, noting that the phrase can replace any congratulatory remark. After Osama Bin Laden’s death in May 2011, Fox News captured someone yelling “Thank You Based God” at a college celebration. Around the same time, a Yahoo! Answers question asking about the importance of the phrase was posted. The hashtag version, #thankyoubasedgod, is active on Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter, where it has been used more than 25,000 times.
Lil B was born on August 17th, 1989 and grew up in Berkeley, California. He began rapping at the age of 16 and has since released seven full-length solo albums, two albums with The Pack and 43 solo mixtapes, one of which contained over 800 freestyles, as of February 2013.
Vinyl Surrender – The Rolling Stone Magazine
Top 100 Tracks / Songs of 2006
Huffington Post – Lil B’s ’I’m Gay’ Album Title Results In Death Threats
Yahoo! Answers – RHH: Why do people keep saying “Thank You Based god” so much?