When Lil B the Based God ventured from the Bay Area to Los Angeles last week to deliver his latest university lecture to 700 UCLA undergrads, he kicked off his gospel with an invocation composed exclusively for the evening.
“It’s an honor to be, so make sure you care,” he solemnly intoned. “I’ll repeat that one more time. It’s an honor to be you, so make sure you care. Real talk.”
The Berkeley rapper also known as Brandon McCartney also brought a few hundred potted miniature succulents with him to Westwood as gifts for his congregation.
Living plants in need of TLC were fitting tokens for the Lil B faithful. His talk turned out to be a more holistic, but still off-the-cuff, unpredictable, and deeply humanistic evolution of his previous sermons at MIT and NYU, when he spoke of ants, fracking, GMOs, race, and how the secret of life is to look at people “like golden, million-dollar babies.”
Since those infamous chats, the 25-year-old Internet phenomenon with over 1.1 million Twitter and Instagram devotees has continued to expand the youthful fan base that worships at the temple of the #based lifestyle of positivity he preaches.
The L. Ron Hubbard of underground rap also unexpectedly broke into the mainstream sports consciousness when he hexed James Harden during the NBA playoffs and threatened to turn his potent Based God Curse on the Cavs for stealing his wrist-flicking “cooking dance.”
But Thursday night at UCLA’s packed Ackerman Grand Ballroom, Lil B was focused on more important matters than LeBron. Holding his audience rapt for 75 minutes, he led his students in a deep-breathing exercise before waxing philosophical on love, individualism, acceptance, and connecting with your fellow human. He shared meandering meditations and introspective personal anecdotes, more Based Dalai Lama than Based God.
Topics also covered: identifying credible news sources, the federal government, deep sea oil drilling, predatory people, his beloved tabby cat Keke, creative and material ownership, African blood diamonds, ethics in business, and the one time he had an intimate conversation with two turkeys by the side of the road.
After Lil B concluded his lecture and posed for photos until the last fan left the building, he told The Daily Beast why he’s added motivational speaking to his based brand.
“I really care, and they reached out too,” he said. “It’s important that I spread love and spread that truth. I know that love can help, and if we keep pushing love as much as we push capitalism and money, it will affect people in a positive way.”
Below, highlights from the most recent Based Teachings of Lil B:
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL WELL-BEING: “I really wanted to emphasize this mental health. I was seeing that I took a lot of that for granted, my mind and what it means to really think—the ideas that you have, positive and negative, as well as being rough on yourself. The mind is so beautiful. It’s crazy. Until a couple weeks ago, I thought I was really thinking. What I was doing was being so stressed… We always have to remember the pure fact that we’re good people, we’re beautiful people, and you’ve always got to remember that. You’re special. You made it. I love you. There are a lot of other people that love you. A lot of people that you might not even know.
ON IDENTIFYING CREDIBLE NEWS SOURCES IN THE MEDIA: “What is credible news to you? Before I got into the entertainment industry, I felt like I was in the meat grinder. Like I was a part of society, just taking anything from the radio, the news stations; anything that was on TV, I pretty much believed it… I was able to decipher movies and stuff, but when it came to news and ‘credible stations’ that we were watching every day and had power, you could turn on many news stations on your TV that have been there and you get this news. Sometimes I call it blogging—personal blogging. I feel like a lot of this news has personal input into it, as well as statistics—where do they come from, you feel me?”
ON ART VS. MONEY: For me as an artist—and this might be a problem—I’m never thinking about the dollar amount, the bottom line. There are a lot of other beautiful people who do that for me, but there are a lot of other people, and it’s sad, who [value] money over people… it’s crazy to me because I didn’t know—I did, but I didn’t—that the government owns the ocean and stuff. People can buy the ocean. Like, buy parts of the ocean to drill for oil, you feel me?
ON THE CORPORATIZATION OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: “Is the federal government like a corporation, or is it an LLC, or…? Who’s a part of the federal government? Does anybody have an answer to that? I definitely hear a lot about the Illuminati and the Skull and Bones, the Freemasons. And you know, shouts out to everybody, you feel me? Get that sack. And what I mean by that sack is that money, but in a positive way. Stay positive.”
ON OUR COLLECTIVE OIL DEPENDENCY: “I heard that I think the government will be leasing some water around 2021, 2017 or something like that. They talk about that big oil leak that happened, what was it? [The BP oil spill] I was upset about that. As much as I love oil, I was forced to love oil! Ay, ’cause if I had to walk, I’d be walking, too. If I didn’t have any cars, I’d be walking. I was just born into this situation. I think we all were.”
ON TALKING WITH TURKEYS: “I’d seen these wild turkeys. They were hanging out in pairs, you know what I’m saying? I was in the car, and there were two of them. Recently I’d seen a family of them, like six. I was like, that is dope, man. I love it. You feel me? These animals are dealing with the modern time, like they’re walking down the street. I’m just like, man, I respect animals for really just adapting to all this new, you feel me? These buildings, the bricks, they’ve got their home. I was in my car and I rolled down the window. The turkeys are looking at me and I’m like, [makes a trilling turkey sound] For real! And the turkey said something back! No lie, I’m not lying. I make an effort for communication.”
ON RECEIVING COMMUNICATION: “I feel like I have no boundaries. If somebody spells a word wrong or they say something wrong, it’s my job as a receiver to decipher. And I’m always working to decipher communication. Because sometimes people are embarrassed. Somebody might put you down or something. I can speak for myself: Everybody’s always trying to correct me, my spelling. But as long as the person who’s receiving the information can decipher it…
ON ACKNOWLEDGING OUR FELLOW HUMANS: “People are extremely sensitive. I’m very sensitive to people. I care. It’s hard for me to not acknowledge people. When I walk, I make a conscious decision: Okay, I’m going to walk by them and not say anything. I’m going to walk by them and not do anything. I see everybody. And there might be a day when you’re just like, ‘I don’t want to say anything.’ Or something serious might be going on. You might be crying. You might be dealing with anything. You don’t have to talk to everybody, but as long as you’re conscious enough to know you have the choice to say something to this person or keep walking, or I’m going to say something, say ‘Hi,’ acknowledge them, say ‘What’s up’—because I see how much just acknowledging someone makes their day.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARING TEA WITH STRANGERS: “There are days when I’ve got my cool walk on. I’m not going to say nothing, walk right by. Act like I don’t see you. But deep down inside I want to say something. Like when I was drinking tea. I was at a community-type table, there was a beautiful couple and there was this other couple, directly right next to me. I had the choice, sitting there. I really wanted to spark conversation. I had two giant things of tea from China and I’m like… I want to share this. I’ve got all this tea to myself, this is not just for me. This is for everybody in here. Come get some tea!”
WHY HE WAS SADDENED TO DISCOVER HE’S ALLERGIC TO HIS CAT KEKE: “Sadly, I found out I’ve got allergies from my cat. I’m allergic to my adopted cat and it’s extremely sad… I raised my cat, so I prided myself on showing her emotion and the love. I prided myself on that for raising her. If you ever get a chance to one day see my friend that I accepted into my family—my adopted tabby cat, my daughter, my sister—it’s so beautiful, because her personality is like part of mine. You can see the goodness in her because of me, and all the love that I showed her. I’m just trying to communicate and learn from her. I made sure that my cat knows that I love her.”
ANIMALS: DO THEY WANT TO BE OUR PETS? “You’ve got to treat ’em right, because they might not want to be there. You don’t know. Pay attention to the animals, because people be like, ‘Why is my dog weird and crazy?’ Hey, you left him at the house! He might not want to be here. He might be bored. Your dog and cat might be bored, you feel me, so we’ve got to go out of our way as much as we can to make sure they feel that love. Because at the end of the day it was us bringing them there.”
ON DOING WHAT YOU LOVE: “Don’t compare yourself to anybody because when you look at your life, you’re beautiful. When you start comparing your genius to other people’s salaries or say this person’s making this or I need to be doing this—it’s good to see stuff from your peers, but never lose that core love. Why did you come into this, why did you come into the game? It’s about making money, too, but I’m coming to show you that a lot of people say, ‘Love doesn’t pay your bills.’ Well, it’s paying mine. This is love.”
ON WATCHING OUT FOR PREDATORS: “You might deal with a lot of thieves and people who come and prey on you because they see you’re real. And that’s what comes with being smart. That’s what I call predators. There are predators in all different types of realms. And you have to go through things sometimes to understand that. Sometimes you have to learn from a predator to understand the symptoms of a predator. Or you might have to fall down and see what time it is to see different things. It’s all about awareness. That’s something I really want to talk about more and more. Staying aware. Nobody’s weak, whether physically or mentally. We’re all beautiful. We all have an equal chance to win. No one here is stronger than the other. No one is better than the other person. Man, woman, everything. Regardless of what anybody says, that propaganda—it’s all propaganda to me. Everybody’s equal. I don’t care.”
ON VANITY VS. SELF-BELIEF: “How many people care about how they look? How many people compare their faces to other people, compare their beauty? How many people are like, ‘I got a solid jawline and I’m beautiful?’ That might be propaganda! I might be a victim of being a tool sometimes too, and coming out with these crazy ideas. But it’s about feeling good, too. Never bring yourself down for feeling good.”
ARE WE ALIENS? “Aliens, humans, whatever we are… I know there’s a lot of theories. Who believes there’s water in Mars? Are we aliens then?!”
ON LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCING THE WORLD: “I can’t answer something that happened in 1720, because I wasn’t there. I can talk for myself now and what’s going on in my life from what I’ve seen. The best perspective is getting in that footwork, getting your hands dirty… and what I mean by getting your hands dirty is getting out with the people in the field that you love. Doing things, whatever you’re trying to learn about, getting that headfirst knowledge. Really just diving in from books, from real-life situations. But its also about, the person who gives you this information—are they trusted? How credible? And that’s for you to decide. What makes somebody credible to you?”
ON OWNERSHIP AND BUYING STARS ONLINE: “I definitely came from that spot where I wasn’t really the owner of anything but myself, my body. Then when you get older you find out you can own stuff like cars, property, land, the ocean… I wonder what else we can own! Does anyone else know something cool that we can own? Something realistic. Like, I heard you can get some parts of the ocean for that oil. What else is something you can own that you know about? A star?! You can own a star? Wow. That’s dope. You’re not playing with me, right? That’s love, man. That’s crazy.”
GO GET THAT STAR: “That’s motivation for some people because some people might want to own a star. You might be motivated to get that sack. And what I mean by that sack is that money. So you might be motivated to get that capital. ‘I’m about to work super hard, because I want to own a star one day.’ And that might make you feel good inside. But without owning anything, spreading love to people and making people feel good I think that’s a big start.”
WITH GREAT POWER… “I realize all this power that I have. You always have to hide shit. We all have vices that we deal with. But I know that I want to use this power and influence in the best way that I can, to spread the most love that I can. We’re all learning. We’re all special. We’ve all got extreme amounts of power. I know when I reach out today you’re going to be able to tell that I really respect you.”
ON MONEY, OLD AGE, AND HAPPINESS: “A lot of people want to get to centenarian [age], which is a person that makes it to 100 years or older. A centenarian. They’re saying that a lot of people that are getting older are dying broke. They’re dying with nothing, or don’t have assets to pass down. It made me feel mixed feelings when I read that, because do money and these things equate happiness? Does that mean that if you’re broke, you should be angry about it? And what does it mean to be broke—is that a mindset?”
ON THE COUNTERINTUITIVE NATURE OF OWNERSHIP LAWS: “It’s weird for me that you can call the police on somebody because you own some space. You own this plot line, and somebody can’t come on this plot. You can’t walk right here. Legally, I can say that’s trespassing. That’s weird to me. That’s the law. For me, I always feel like everything is everybody’s. But we see with ownership is not the case. So we need to make sure we have beautiful people owning stuff, people that have good ethics and have that love.”
ON THE ULTIMATE WEAPON: “I’m trying to think about creating a weapon that can protect you from all the weapons. I’m trying to create a weapon that shields you from the weapons… instead of making a weapon that kills you, what can protect us?”
ON ETHICS IN BUSINESS AND BLOOD DIAMONDS: “I’m proud to be in a bubble and I think everybody’s good. I give everybody the benefit of the doubt. But I have been learning that there are a lot of business owners that don’t have the same ethics in business … Like, who’s invested in all these places like Africa that’s digging all these resources while the people are still out there hurting? Who’s invested in these companies? There are people out there like jewelers who’ll go out there and get diamonds and dig for oil but there are like 11,000 kids that just got released and they’ve been forced into war. Everybody’s dying over there and we just turn the other cheek cause we don’t feel it. But it hurts me… we want to hold the people accountable that have investments over there. You get money out there; why aren’t you out there? Why aren’t you out there with them?”
LIL B’S SHOUT-OUT TO EX-UCLA BRUIN TURNED FLOORING LAMINATE ACTIVIST XUHUA ZHOU: “I think it goes back to holding people accountable for what is doing on. Making sure that you’ve got love for people… because it’s not all about that bottom line at the end of the day. [Zhou] found this laminate they were using was high in [formaldehyde] and that’s not legal in California, the levels they were selling. He had his integrity and he kept fighting against them and he won. He bet against their stock because he knew what was going on. He got some good money off that. But the aspect I got from that was that he stood for something that was helping. That’s what it’s all about, making sure that you keep the people in mind. Let’s keep the people in mind. Less sugar, more yogurt. You feel me?”
LIL B’S CLOSING THOUGHTS TO THE STUDENTS OF UCLA: “I know y’all probably got to get the money because you’ve got bills to pay. But just know that everything’s going to be okay, and life’s got your back. People have your back. Do not worry, because everything’s going to be alright. Keep that love, that positivity and that core. I’m living proof that that love is real. Keep putting that ethics in business. Y’all are going to make it to the top. Hire me!”