so yesterday, when the homie Realniggatumbler asked for my thoughts on Red Flame, I felt kinda bad that I hadn’t listened to the tape yet. MBDTF has taken up the majority of my listening, and I acquired both at same time. At the fear of Lil B fucking me up the ass (AYO), I decided to give a brief breakdown on Red Flame today, after one overall listen at work and a couple listens to individual tracks since then.
Firstly, there’s a lot of mixtape tracks on here, which is rare for Lil B, as he usually either uses original instrumentals or borrows old instrumentals from classic hip-hop tapes. I suppose it’s kinda difficult to make twenty-fucking-nine completely original songs here, so he compromises by stealing quite a few instrumentals. I know he borrowed quite a bit from the Cash Money/No Limit vaults on here, but outside of Master P/Juvenile/Wayne/The Big Tymers, my knowledge of those vaults (which are about as deep as fucking Fort Knox combined) is limited. He borrows Flocka’s Hard In The Paint (I just talked about this the other day, but Brandon’s at least entertaining here) and a recreated Luv Dem Gun Soundz, and emulates Flocka’s energy with his own Based style (then apologizes, quite humorously, spouting off sorry Flocka. Flocker), which is just one of the many moments on Red Flame where you’ll find yourself laughing at Brandon’s offbeat humor (tiny pants like Bill Clinton is another one that comes to mind instantly). He also borrows Light Up, Drake’s Hov assisted banger, as well as Jay Electronica’s Exhibit C, another song that every rapper in the fucking world ran into the ground.
He borrows Juvenile and Master P’s flow on a couple tracks here, and continues his tribute to New Orleans, respectfully. Admittedly the original songs on here are far more interesting than his New Orleans tribute, mainly because B’s at his most intersting when he’s being the Based God, not Percy Miller/Baby Williams-reincarnated. I Killed Hip-Hop, Would You Still Care, Dark Skin, GQ Magazine, Hate In My Hart (sic) and New York Subway are all classic Lil B, with some clear-New York influence, yet not overwhelming. This stuff is conscious rap at its finest; Brandon pours his heart out, as he still doesn’t quite understand the hatred that his music has brought him. Lil B is honestly just a fucking kid making some music that he feels is positive, and everyone hates him for it; but his innocence bleeds through on songs like the Dido-sampling Dark Skin, where he tries to understand life, trying to stay positive when he’s at his lowest. This is the type of music that we should be listening to. Maybe it seems mildly negative, but that’s real fucking life. Everything isn’t daisies, people, we need to stop listening to Common and Phonte. Their music maybe uplifting, but B’s is equally enlightening and inspirational.
Red Flame doesn’t always hit, and if you expected it to with 29 tracks, you’re delusional. Songs like Miley Cyrus and Like A Groupie are downright terrible, and don’t even serve well as bitches-on-my-dick bangers like his older material. However, when the songs hit, and they do often, they hit fucking hard. Now how about that Black Ken..
side-note: What the fuck is with all those Lil Jon samples, Based God? I swear to God I thought Lil Jon was actually featuring on some of these at first..
This is going to be a hard task to tackle. Brandon McCartney’s Rain In England is nothing like the Lil B his YouTube followers and Okayplayer detractors know him to be. There is no cooking here; there are no bitches on his dick. No swag, no tributes to New Orleans, no looking like Jesus. There’s no Squadda B, Clams Casino, or Left Brain production, as it’s strictly produced by The Based God himself. His conscious side is on full display here; those based freestyles he became known for are elevated to another level, with Lil B half-rapping, half performing spoken word poetry in a stream of consciousness manner that falls somewhere between Lil’ Wayne and Saul Williams.
The ambient production, lacking any drums whatsoever that usually allow a rapper to flow, actually compliments Lil B far more than it would his more traditional peers. B has always had an off-kilter flow, sometimes falling in and out of beat, his mind far too ambiguous for straight forward production. When Lil B made Like A Martian, he wasn’t making outrageous claims (okay, he was on that song, but it’s still relevant) of being otherworldly, ala Lil’ Wayne on Phone Home; he was really expressing how he hardly belongs in the curtain hip-hop atmosphere. It’s obvious by Rain In England that he’s merely ahead of his time, though.
On the opening songs, Birth To Life and Everything, this album does seem like it’s poised to become something more than his #rare and #secrete Paint albums, by providing more rap than those albums had. Birth To Life is similar to Birth of Rap and Death Of Rap when it comes to Lil B openers, but only that it’s in a similar vein of showcasing what the rest of the album will sound like. Everything expands upon the idea of Birth To Life, and features Lil B asking questions involving education, such as why don’t they teach us about credit cars, about getting sued, about the men in the suits? why don’t they teach us about Dr. Seuss? why don’t they teach us about Dr. Seuss? I really don’t know, Based God. I probably would’ve continued my schooling if they did.
Just Dream has Lil Boss encouraging us to keep dreaming, and Love Is Strange is uh, also very self-explanatory. One thing you’ll notice on these tracks is that Brandon, despite retaining a stream-of-consciousness flow, is very focused. He rarely loses sight of the concept of each particular track; his ADD-flow presented on his regular musical output is on Ritalin here, as he never loses sight of his concentration. There are no distractions here; Lil Boss is merely presenting some of the most positive, self-reflective and equally empathetic hip-hop I’ve ever personally heard. On All Women, he writes (erm, freestyles) a love letter to every woman in the world, telling them how they’re so beautiful, telling them how they’re so special. Yes, this is the same rapper that has bitches on his dick because he looks like Darth Vader; has there been a rapper this contradictive since the days of Shakur?
My Window Sill is fucking strange, as it involves Brandon detailing the events taking place of his window at any given time (assuming he peers out his window like a creeper half the time; something I’m really not too hesitant to believe), and he breaks away from that at the end to croon my window siiiiiilllllll/my windoooooooowwwww siiiiillllll. This would be sill(y) in any other context, but here, on Rain In England, it works. At first I thought Earth’s Medicine was about marijuana, but it’s really about giving the Earth medicine, as Lil B plays doctor to Mother Nature. He discusses how the earth’s sad because people are no longer working together at its core, and how earth is bigger than life. There isn’t much in the way of rapping here, or poetry; just a lotta weird euthanisms for earth being sick. Lil B also went to college for 20 years; he has a Bachelors in love, and a Bachelors in peace. This is so goddamn strange, but yet I find myself continually listening to it.
I Am The Hellraiser is a return to more dynamically-sound music, after the last two songs which were incredibly strange. Not that this is normal, but B does rap more so here, mentioning how he’s leveling up like a Super Saiyan, and how he understands why Kanye feels amazing. This is the one moment on the album where I started drawing similarities to Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak, as both of these albums are some of the most experimental hip-hop releases, um, ever. Kanye has co-signed Lil B recently, and Lil B has name dropped Kanye multiple times in the past (send money Through The Wire like Kyan West), but these two are more alike than evidenced on the surface. The production here is very melancholic, and symphonic; this is a great highlight, and when B raps here, it’s quite fantastic in all its avant garde greatness.
My Business features pipe organs that make me envision the Titanic sinking in the middle of the ocean while Lil B stands where Leo DiCaprio once did, proclaiming that he’s the Based God and this collapsing ship is merely another footnote in his legacy. I don’t know why, maybe that’s just the visuals my Based mind can conjure up. This is the longest song on the album, but it doesn’t feel overly wrong; none of he songs on Rain In England do, as it somehow maintains some type of consistency and relevancy that more traditional albums don’t in 2010.
Hate Is Fear is B’s anti-negativity track, and not the type of hate you’re accustomed to hearing about in hip-hop. B expresses how he’s grey, in between both hate and love, before he take a segway back to hate. The imagery of B riding a segway along a spiritual highway back to the Hate Junction is something that’ll never escape your mind afterwards. Letter To The Family is one very heartfelt tribute to his family, which starts off with Brandon expressing how somehow he loves music more than himself, completely aware of how unhealthy that is. It’d be wrong to even judge this song.. it’s so emotional, and honest that you can only emphasize with Brandon here, although you’ll never truly know what he’s trying to express. A very courageous track amidst a very courageous album.
All My Life, Death, and God Kissed Me are like the trilogy of a closer to Rain In England. All My Life features Lil B coming to accept his life, all the events that have taken place, finally having found peace within himself even if he’s still curious to the mysteries of the world. Death is just that; the end of your physical being, and the next step in your spiritual journey. God Kissed Me is the continuation after life; a very fitting end that leaves this emotional roller-coaster of an album on a positive note.
Rain In England is impossible to classify. It’s an ambient hip-hop album that can never be taken at face value. Only those who’re based should venture into this album, as elitist as that sounds. If you’re not already familiar with the Based God’s eccetricism, then this album will be completely off putting. You have to want to understand Rain In England before you can enjoy it.