It’s hard to be a thinking person and not be offended by the lyrical content of popular music (especially hip hop & dancehall) right now. Listening to the radio is like getting beaten over the head with giant penises competing to see which is the largest, richest and most homophobic. On the other hand, when you are person that really cares about music the instinct is to recoil at the thought of any form of censorship.
Which is why when I stumbled upon a video of Lil B’s, I was compelled to post it on my website, even if I had no idea what to say about it. I wrote:
“I don’t really know what to say about Lil B. He’s from the Bay Area, he’s really good at the internet and I don’t really know anything else about him. I don’t really want to. I’ve been thinking a lot about feminism recently and it’s been making it harder to listen to Hot 97. How am I suppose to rationalize liking music that is misogynistic, when I know how damaging it can be to young women? Violence, I can handle. Drugs, I can handle. But the songs that disrespect women are a little bit tougher to brush off (and that’s like 90% of the radio). At the same time, I’ve watched this video like 12 times today. It’s far from the worst Lil B has to say,but I mean, I should hate this on principle right? I kind of don’t. What’s wrong with me / everybody?”
Much to my surprise Lil B (who really is a whiz at the internet) responded via comment a few hours after I posted. He says, “thank you for your words this is Lil B. I am human so don’t hate me. Love the blog.”
Beyond being pleased that Lil B likes my blog (and read it, even if it was found via google alerts) I couldn’t believe how mindblowinly perfect his statement was. On the surface, it’s incredibly hypocritical. “I’m human so don’t hate me.” Well, Lil B, a lot of your music is hateful (towards humans) so why exactly should you be exempt?
But therein lays the rub. Lil B is a person who is making music. These songs aren’t autobiographical, just thoroughly simplistic commentary on human nature. As another commenter on that post wrote, “girls like cock, he is good at advertising his.” While his lyrics might provide a few clues, they aren’t really an indication of how Lil B really treats women.
It’s also a reminder that you can listen to this kind of music without approving of its messages. I often get caught in the “I can tell the difference between right and wrong, and enjoy this music separately from the views it espouses –but other people might be too dumb to get it.” Which is a pretty shitty way to think about people, and most likely wrong. After all correlation is not causation.
In the end, I’m sort of back where I started – enjoying Lil B even though I’m not entirely sure why. Well, that’s not true. The beat is fresh and the video is mesmerizing. Lil B seems affable enough (besides the misogyny) and works in more than a few clever references (and not all of them regard his dick!) As far as the rest is concerned, I’ll just have to trust that no one takes Lil B seriously enough to treat his words like gospel.