By day, not-so-mild-mannered Delonte West is a NBA basketball player, a combo guard too small for shooting guard and too selfish to play point. West is notable for tattoos, somehow having red hair despite an African-American and Native American ethnic mix, thugging in a motorized tricycle with two handguns and (inexplicably) a shotgun, and reportedly copulating with Gloria James, celebrity mom to an apocryphal king. An antihero of sorts, pariah in a league that forces its players to wear suits and follow rules. But there’s a side of Delonte that exists away from the spotlight, where a burgeoning rap career transforms Mr. West into Charlee Redz, car aficionado and purveyor of optimal rhymes.
This week, 4 singles off upcoming mixtape Cadillac Music: Come Ride Wit (sic) Me were leaked to Slam; while one might think that hackers saw West’s compositions as grail, the leak occurred from within the Charlee Redz camp; more specifically, Redz himself was responsible for the breach. The unabashedly explicit “My Dually” begins by expressing Transcendentalist distaste for confinement in the studio and the label’s aim for an audience elevated 12 feet above traffic.
As a wordsmith, Redz drops a clever double entendre into the title. A “Dually” is a truck with four wheels on the back, typically tricked out in a display of gangster braggadocio. But lesser used is the Urban Dictionary definition, where a Dually refers to a woman shaped like the truck, possessing wide hips and a protruding posterior. Essentially, a pear-shaped figure. The refrain makes more sense when viewed in this context, with Charlee Redz heralding his affinity for “loud,” in arenas of both audio and cannabis, as well as custom rims and stacks of cash pledged to his dually. Life’s finer things.
Charlee Redz gets introspective with the creatively titled “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy.” He opens his verse insisting that his eyes are low, bringing his streak of opening songs with shoutouts to a plant banned both by the NBA’s conduct policy and Federal law to a perfect 2 for 2. But the line I find interesting is “This life fast, sometimes it comes slow/ so I wear a mask, so nobody know.” His intense and challenging rhymes try to conceal an important revelation, but it’s extractable if you pay close attention. By adopting the Charlee Redz persona, Delonte West is putting on his mask, “so nobody know.” With this, he’s able to segregate the pristine image of Delonte West, innocent child balling on a wire hanger hoop until his momma whooped him, from the swagged-out artist living life for the pleasures of the finer things in green.
The third track leaked is the thankfully brief “Texas I Like It.” Redz’ voice is distorted, taking it from a terrible track with monosyllabic rhymes and intellectually devoid lyrics to a deeper-voiced terrible track with monosyllabic rhymes and intellectually devoid lyrics. This song is literally everything abhorrent about rap. Concepts presented in chronological order: getting paid, hearing 50 gunshots last night, hardness in the hood, trying to get laid, haircuts, hats, enjoying stardom in Texas, using credit cards instead of cash to impress the “hoes on the poles.” This is the most gruesome Texan atrocity since the Alamo, or the death penalty, or Vanilla Ice.
As the saying goes, “Blood runs thicker than water and faster than Shaq.” Charlee Redz showcases his familial piety by including his uncle Rudy preaching the gangster gospel of being a man and wooing women. Highlights of Rudy’s message, combined with a soft backing track, include relationship dissolution, the struggle with body ideals, humanizing Tyra Banks, and mythological odes to Helen and the Trojan War. Rudy’s role is evocative of the teacher on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a sage who helps break down life for the audience (a classroom of children, as opposed to Uncle Rudy’s gangsters riding 12 feet high.)
Parallels can be drawn between West and Ron Artest, a baller on and off the court with his own rap label (more here.) The gig should feel stale, but I can’t help but be excited about everything Delonte West does. He falls somewhere between brilliance and outrageousness, and the spectrum is almost impossible to calibrate. His Twitter is routinely hilarious, consistently talking about everyday things like fixing driveways and binging on chili. Watching Delonte’s career is like watching the NFL with replacement refs, or Univision on mute. And that might be just the way he likes it.
By Matt Lardner
I always thought a based god was the eccentric but under the radar guy strumming in the background of rock bands. Then, Brandon McCartney (no relation to Paul, if you were wondering), a prolific hip-hop artist who performs under aliases such as “Lil B” and “BASEDGOD”, made my definition of the term obsolete.
He first became a blip on my radar on Twitter, where I would occasionally see #oomf, as the kids like to hashtag, entreat this person to fornicate with their domestic partners. “Unusual,” I remarked as I absently stroked my chin. “He must be a model.”
It was a red herring. But then I noticed another important detail: People were thanking him for good fortune in their lives. It all started to make sense– Lil B was a deity, and these profane, sexual shoutouts were from modern-day Josephs, calling upon Lil B to impregnate their partners Mary-style, so that they could raise a Based Son.
So I confirmed what many already knew– that Lil B was a Based God. But a God based on what? I turned to the place I usually go for spiritual guidance and information: the hallowed grounds of Myspace.com. The Word according to Brandon McCartney was longer than the King James Holy Bible on audiobook, and came from a larger amount of sources. Over 155 Myspace pages hosted 3000+ tracks of Based dogma, dwarfing the 40 writers of the book LeBron James (aka Disgraced God) got his nickname from.
After listening, I understood why so many people gave up other deism to embrace B-ism.
I extracted many valuable tenets from his work: The acceptance of alternative cultures and lifestyles, wholesome family entertainment, and gender equality. “Wonton Soup,” Lil B’s most-viewed song on Youtube, opens its welcoming chopsticks to Asiatic cultures, with the culinary choice tying into the imagery of America as a cultural melting pot. Lil B also volunteers to cook, assuming a role historically done by women, and teaches the value of bringing joy to others by preparing meals. In “Ellen Degeneres,” B shouts out a LGBT pioneer and host of a family-friendly daytime entertainment option. A freestyle called “Caillou” champions a bald cartoon protagonist, letting children know it’s OK to look different and be different. Paradoxically, Lil B titled one of his albums “I’m Gay,” despite being a self-described heterosexual. This was done both to stamp out homophobia and to restore the meaning of the word to its original use, meaning “happy.” The question we need to be asking ourselves is, why aren’t mainstream religions as open and tolerant as Lil B?
So with Lil B’s ascent into the mainstream came scholarly acclaim. More philosopher than artist, Lil B’s ideals have been lauded by the academic community, so much so that prestigious New York University invited him to lecture to a capacity crowd of 500, composed of scholarly movers and shakers poised to change the world.
Most of the crowd remained on their feet from start to finish, clearly understanding the importance of this art-meets-academia mindgasm. Lil B opined on politics, advocating against fracking and promoting the inherent joy of being a taxpayer. On the upcoming election, McCartney related himself to the leading Republican candidate. “I’m out here trying to get my Mitt Romney on,” B stated, presumably because he admires Romney’s rendition of America the Beautiful. I know that Lil B made his name in hip-hop instead of centuries-old patriotic hymns, but late in the lecture, Based God announced his intent to make a rock CD, which he describes as “garage-punk.” If he can jump genres like that, who knows when our classic American songs will undergo a Based revision?
Remember when Lil B tried to change the modern meaning of gay? Well he also looked up the original meaning of black, claiming that it means “something like coal.” That would be like saying that the word blue used to mean sky. Eccentric at first, but I can explain it for you: Lil B is emphasizing the non-linearity of time and space, and making a social commentary about how structural speech is becoming less clear cut and more blurred (a point he reiterates in the metamorphosis of the word based.)
I highly recommend that you listen to the entire speech, free for the world to absorb. This ideological cultural diffusion has been criticized by detractors as “unintentional comedy” and “baseless,” but they clearly aren’t Based enough to understand that the lecture was based on Based ideals of unity, individual Renaissance, and most importantly, swag. From the people at NYU who invited Lil B, to the 500 lucky witnesses of this life-changing event, to Lil B himself for bestowing his guidance and perspective to the world, this entire lecture exemplifies YOLO. Now who wants to cook wonton soup?