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The Long Tail Of Lil B: Why The Based God Is A Genius

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Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 8:45 AM

Some people say quantity is not quality ... but what if someone came along and rewrote all the rules? It's no secret that rap's resident weirdo, Berkeley's Lil B The Based God is a new media powerhouse.  Until recently, he existed almost more online than in the real life. That's because the strange world Lil B has created through his music, philosophies and personality are limitless. The Based World can not be contained, categorized, and shelved in a physical space.

In fact, The Based God is really a genius. Proof? He has the same business plan as Netflix, Amazon, and Ebay.

With hundreds of Myspace pages, a YouTube channel with 253 original music videos (and counting) and over 200,000 followers on Twitter, Lil B is an artist that never could have existed in a world without limitless virtual shelf space. Part of his allure (and the general public's confusion) is the fact that there are mixtapes floating around that feature over 626 original songs. Not all of these songs are by any means the technically proficient hip hop songs you've ever heard, but a large amount are. The fact that Lil B can deliver, and deliver well, whether solo or with the group he first fronted, The Pack, makes the Based God even more intriguing. But why does he put out every little thought that pops into his head onto a mixtape, MySpace, or YouTube video?  The answer is, why not?

Lil B is the perfect counter argument for the Jaron Laniers of the world who believe that Web 2.0 has devalued intellectual achievement. Lil B is, of course, one of the many artists created in the Web 2.0 womb. In that case, is the idea of giving someone like Lil B unlimited shelf space in the virtual world, and a platform on which to broadcast it a good thing? Is it all just a joke? Is Lil B a joke? Or is this all possibly some sort calculated business plan? The fact that we ask these questions at all means that Lil B is doing something right. He is drawing people in, forcing them to become immigrants, tourists, and eventually permanent residents of the Based World. And at the same time you're judging and trying to understand, you're bobbing your head to one of his many songs.

WIRED magazine's article "The Long Tail," by Cris Anderson, is proof that The Based God himself has the same business plan as Netflix, Amazon, and Ebay.  These companies are showing the way with three big lessons, or as WIRED calls them, the New Rules for the New Entertainment Economy: Rule 1: Make everything available. Just like Netflix, Lil B is making everything available. Wired explains how Netflix does this by allowing viewers to enjoy the worst of worst movies and best of the best and everything in between. As the article says, "Almost anything is worth offering on the off-chance it will find a buyer." Rule 2: Cut the price in half. Now lower it. If not free, Lil B's music is cheap. Rule 3: Help me find it. By flooding the internet with 200-plus videos, 100-plus MySpace pages, the retweets of his almost 200,000 Twitter followers, and mainstream media's (including us) stab at trying to understand the man, you don't need much help finding your way into the Based World.
click to enlarge KASEY STOKES
  • Kasey Stokes

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