Many years after it was first announced, Lil B‘s “first official mixtape” Black Ken has arrived, and it was worth the wait. 27 tracks long, the ambitious project seems to travel through Bay Area rap history almost chronologically — beginning with some raw 80s Too Short- esque experiments before working its way through hyphy and eventually landing in unexplored territory. From rapping to producing, he does all of this entirely on his own with the exception of “Global,” a collaboration with ILoveMakonnen, a similarly DIY rapper who is a self-described student of Lil B’s both in musical style and philosophy. Makonnen actually interviewed the Based God for his blog back in 2008, at a time where the Atlanta rapper was under house arrest for a strange and tragic freak accident that left his friend dead from a gunshot wound. A few years later, Makonnen gained success in his own right, using the freestyle-like approach to songwriting that Lil B made his name off, tweaking the formula with his own unique melodies and clean piano-driven beats.
With “Global” Lil B and Makonnen’s worlds collide in a highly complimentary way. Coming off the synthetic, hyphy-influenced stretch of the album, things get weirder when the beat goes full club — calling to mind Diddy’s cult masterpiece Last Train To Paris. Makonnen supplies the commanding hook, reminding us of his highly successful EDM experiments like DJ Carnage’s “I Like Tuh” and “Trust Me Danny.” Meanwhile, Based God finds a shady pocket of the beat, laying low and hitting all his marks. Once the beat becomes more skeletal, he ramps up his delivery for an animated bridge that recalls his swag rap best.
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