Museumgoers were still perusing Lil B’s seemingly unspectacular exhibited collection — a series of iPhone photographs and crayon-drawn pictures ripped from a sketchbook — when the indoor stage at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, was flooded with ominous techno music. Kids in sweatshirts and snapbacks clutched onto the red and blue prints of photographs from Lil B’s “Extremely Rare Photography and Art Collection Issue #1” as they anticipated the arrival of the Berkeley-raised rapper and artist.
The doors of BAMPFA whooshed open, and in entered the BasedGod himself. Closely flanked by his security guard, Lil B descended the stairs, a floor-length chiffon skirt flowing behind. His salmon-colored blazer glowed as he waved to the fans who cheered for him in the audience. Even though his face was nearly covered by his dreads and sunglasses, the huge grin he sported could be seen by anyone in the room.
“Hey, Berkeley! How you doing?” Lil B yelled into the crowd. Spreading his arms into the air, he said, “Love, positivity — this whole project.”
Lil B talked about his boundless love for his hometown of Berkeley and how much of an honor it was to speak in his hometown. He chatted about taking strolls down University Avenue, wanting to invest in property on College Avenue and chilling on Shattuck Avenue. Even though his work has taken him around the world, as he explained the photos he took and shared memories based in Berkeley, his love for the city filled the room.
After gushing about Berkeley, Lil B’s talk became disjointed — he jumped from subject to subject without anything to tie together his talk other than an amorphous idea of “love.” He hiked his maxi skirt up, plopped his leg on the table and talked about how he got a cut on his way there and how that cut looked like fruit. He then went on a tangent about how people should be able to wear whatever they want no matter how they identify. After that, he shot into some indecipherable thought, talking vaguely about love and art for five minutes before bringing up how his house burned down a while back — a sentiment he ended with a shoutout to firefighters.
Lil B’s talk at BAMPFA was much like his art — unorganized, raw and full of passion for everything, even the most mundane. Even though the event was confusing at times, it demonstrated the amount of genuine love that he puts into all of his work, whether it be the crayon drawings on display or the chart-toppers he made years ago.
Lil B ended by asking everyone to come and take the photos and drawings off the wall. He had stacks of things to give out — photos, a signed XXL Mag, a keyboard and disposable cameras, to name a few. One moment, there was a whole gallery wall of Lil B’s work. The next, after fans hurriedly ravaged the BAMPFA walls, it was gone.
The art was only there for those who came to see Lil B and took the time to attach the artist’s presence to the work. As Lil B chanted “I love you” and “I love life” to the crowd, he ended a thoroughly unique event, one as bizarre as it was memorable.