Blog Watch Edition 4: One In The Echo Chamber

This week I focus on a Lil B mixtape review that, like so many others before, functions as a hateful screed, only this time it is executed with even greater efficiency.

Lil B – Angel’s Exodus: Fred Castano insists that he conducted a fair amount of research to prepare for his review of Lil B’s latest work. I can’t dispute that this is the case, but in the resulting review he spends more time engaging in ridicule than he does describing or critiquing the music in question. One gets the sense that his research led him to the sources whose bias matched his own, which he utilized as a key to broadly paint opposing opinions as being rooted in a superficial obsession with “swag.” He doesn’t attempt to understand the music itself, he just hurls insults at the phenomenon of Lil B as interpreted by random internet commentators. It’s understandable that  bias might influence one’s initial response to a piece of music, since few among us can claim to be immune to that tendency. But it’s another thing to go out of one’s way to compile biased sources of information to string together your own seemingly unedited invective. That takes a certain level of committed energy that could be put to better use.

Castano definitely goes the distance to represent for Lil B haters; he engages in armchair psychology (“Lil B shouts out hip-hop darlings like Jay Electronica and MF DOOM .. to help bolster his claim that he’s dedicated to making the music that … discerning rap fans, will approve of”); indulges in unneeded hyperbole (“I have not made it through ‘All My Life’ without breaking into hysterics at how bad it is”); makes sweeping claims that would require greater evidence of an extensive familiarity with Lil B’s discography to be considered valid (“Lil B makes a case that maybe, just maybe, he is more than just a product of swag-induced hype. It’s not a strong case, and it will likely get tossed out of court due to insufficient evidence”); and posits a hipster conspiracy to account for Lil B’s popularity (“The hip ‘so bad it’s good’ way of thinking that has embraced Lil B has bred laziness as well as acceptance of subpar music”). We’ve read and heard this all before, and it isn’t getting any more convincing with each retelling, especially when carefully considered nuanced reviews of his work that also address his growing fame and its implications are available. ((See Noz’s NPR piece, for starters.))

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