The cult of Lil B is a unique product of the internet era. His fans are rabid, vocal, and have an incredibly heavy presence online.
As such, a community has grown to the extent that there are high-ranking members: Lil B established the Task Force in early 2011 to recognize his supporters and give it a name. Over the years, it has grown in size and become much more than just a fan club. The members’ first duty is to protect Lil B at all costs. If somebody is bashing his music online or in person, members are expected to protect it by enlightening the slanderer. They are also expected to protect him in person as well, during concerts and public appearances.
The Task Force may sound like a gang—and sometimes they look that way, when they wear the group’s symbolic pink bandanas. But don’t be fooled. Lil B’s music preaches nothing but positivity and inclusivity.
Most of the Based God’s followers are casual, invoking the terminology (tybg, rare, fmb) and occasionally breaking out the cooking dance that has caught fire throughout the hip-hop and basketball community.
But Task Force members see themselves as more than just casual fans. Besides protecting Lil B, the group prides itself on being “based,” urban slang used in the California’s Bay Area that was originally associated with crack cocaine users. Fortunately for the Task Force, Lil B found a way to give the term a more positive meaning. UrbanDictionary.com defines based as: “When you don’t care what people think. It’s a way of life, doing what you want, how you want, wearing what you want.”
But according to Lil B and the Task Force, that’s not the whole of being based. Most members believe that in order to be based you must stay positive through the good and bad, and show love to all people and all creatures.
Dedicated members of the Task Force—Victor, Derrick, Mohamad, Parris and Pauly—decided to share their experiences with Lil B and his way of life.
McCartney, who lives in Riverside, California, is a well-known member of the Task Force, but he was a fan even before the Task Force was established. McCartney says that he has been following Lil B since around 2005, back when Lil B was with The Pack, a Bay Area group consisting of Lil B, Young L, Stunnaman and Lil Uno. They were best-known in the hip-hop community for their hit “Vans.”
McCartney became a more serious fan once he discovered Lil B on Myspace in 2006. McCartney says that Lil B used to interact with his fans on MySpace as if they were truly friends.
“I added him on his personal profile, then I added him on his music profile and I was just commenting on his pics. I never used to send messages on MySpace—especially to artists because they never respond back—but he’s the one who sent me a message saying ‘thank you for your support’ and then it all started from there. I just started talking to him about never giving up.”
“I used to tell him that he looked like the next Lil Wayne, and the next day he created the song called ‘A Zilli,’ and he messaged me saying ‘I did it for you.’”
Lil B claims that he had over 155 MySpace pages in order to upload all of his music. At the time, this was a way for underground artists to reach a larger online audience. But it was only on his personal profile MySpace page that Lil B interacted with his fans.
Around 2009, Lil B started to call himself “The BasedGod.” McCartney says the name was his idea.
“I was like, ‘Good God, hey bro you’re a fucking god of music,’” McCartney says. “I was like, ‘Hey I’mma call you the based god that sounds so sick. You could have like alter egos, you could be like based lord or based demigod or like based evil god or something.’ And he was like, ‘Oh fuck, that shit’s fucking sick bro. Dang that’s some good ideas.’ A short while later he was on Skee TV, and that’s when he said on video that he was the BasedGod for the first time.”
McCartney says that the Task Force began in 2011. There was no deep logic behind its formation—Justin Bieber has his Beliebers, Future his #Futurehive, and Swift her Swifties. McCartney thinks Lil B just wanted his fans to feel special and connected. Four years later, they do: McCartney says members of the Task Force are really like brothers and sisters, like a family.
[S]ometimes that’s what you need, you need some support and harsh times happen and that’s what Task Force does for each other.
“It’s awesome—I remember I saw somebody whose mom or dad passed and I guess they were going through a harsh time and people were commenting and sending the guy messages saying, ‘Stay up, we love you, we support you,” McCartney says. “That’s fuckin’ dope cause sometimes that’s what you need, you need some support and harsh times happen and that’s what Task Force does for each other.”
Derrick “Bushidogod” Jones
Derrick Jones, a 20-year-old computer science sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, says his parents raised him on funk, R&B and soul. He says he became a fan of Lil B in 2010, when he realized how clever Lil B’s rhyme schemes were.
“I heard ‘Wonton Soup’ and I was like, ‘I get it, the guy’s a genius,’ so I just started listening to him more and more, got into his deeper music and then I realized, ‘Yo, this guy really is a genius,’” Jones says.
Five years later, Jones takes pride in being an established member of the Task Force group, particularly on Facebook.
“It’s one of the special parts of the Internet,” he said. “It’s really nice and positive and we tell stories about ourselves and our lives. There really isn’t anything else like it, it’s just kind of a rarity. There are kids who try so hard to be bold on the Internet and we’re doing the opposite of that. It’s special and I do like the Lil B jokes.”
I heard ‘Wonton Soup’ and I was like, ‘I get it, the guy’s a genius.’
Jones says that the group hasn’t changed much since he first joined, but he hopes that in the future members are able to become better at keeping out the “fake based”—those who only pretend to represent Lil B’s core values. The Task Force Facebook group is invite-only, and Jones says that he would like to see the group be more selective about who they allow in.
Like most clubs, the Task Force has found ways to distinguish its members. They have given each other special “god” names, based on things they might do particularly well or the impression they have left on other members. Jones received a special name from the group once he became a barista at his university café.
“After a month or so I started to get really good at it and I was like, ‘You know what, I’m proud of all things involving coffee and coffee drinks so I’m Baristagod,’ but recently I’ve been unemployed so I could focus on school. I thought I would change my name to something that’s not temporary. I wasn’t going to be a barista forever,” Jones says.
“My parents and my siblings taught me this weird warrior code thing and it has helped me out so much in life, so that’s why I changed my name to ‘Bushidogod.’ I need a sword now or a butcher’s knife. Something sort of hefty.”
Mohamad “Artgod” Altimimi
Altimimi, 19, and a native of Portland, Oregon, works at 7-Eleven and does day trading, but in his spare time he brings a particular skill set to the Task Force group that ended up earning him a “god” name of his own.
“I was one of the few people who really, really earned it,” Altimimi says. “I made this one edit one time, did based pictures for a whole bunch of people. I was bored one night and I stayed up all night doing art. I started putting it in the group and I asked, ‘Yo, what do you guys think about this, I just made this. It took me like four hours.’ So everybody liked it and they were like, ‘Yo, make me one! Make me one!’ I’m not the type of person to turn someone down so I made everybody shit.”
Altimimi says that within two weeks several people in the group were asking him for pictures. He let them decide how they wanted their pictures to be so they started calling him “Artgod.” Most of his pictures tend to look like a collage of shapes, colors, and images of things he likes, such as Lil B, marijuana, and lean.
Altimimi, like most Task Force members, loved his first in-person experience with Lil B at a concert in San Diego, calling it “the most positive experience of my life.”
“He was playing a whole bunch of slaps in the beginning, getting everyone hyped and then in the middle he would play some serious shit like ‘I Love You.’. Then he would leave the beat and a capella it. He would interact with everybody which I thought was based as fuck,” Altimimi says. “He would try to make time for everyone. We left that concert on a more serious note, telling everyone, ‘Okay, you gotta love the world and all that.”
Williams, who lives in Atlanta, is such an avid fan of Lil B that he tattooed “Based” on his hand to show his love for the Task Force and their based philosophy. Williams became a fan back in 2010 and has since found himself listening to Lil B’s music to help him get through whatever task is at hand. “Wherever I travel, when I’m on the road, it’s Lil B in my ears. Whenever I’m exercising, its BasedGod,” says Williams, 25, who served in the Navy and now drives trucks for Time Warner Cable.
Williams says that Lil B separates himself from other artists by how much he cares for his supporters. Lil B demonstrated this at a Chicago concert back in October 2011 that forever changed the way Williams thought of Lil B as a person.
Williams says that Lil B separates himself from other artists by how much he cares for his supporters.
“The line was wrapped around the Hard Rock Café,” he says. “I was standing right there in front. I was standing close enough so if he ever reached his hand out to give somebody a high five or whatever I was gonna be able to do that. I remember one instance when I was reaching my hand out so he could dap me up, but he couldn’t reach.”
“He’s a smaller guy and he was nearly falling off the stage, but he did not give up on trying to touch my hand. He put the microphone down. He stopped rapping and kept reaching, and we both kept reaching until we dapped each other up.”
That was when Williams realized Lil B was truly different from most artists.
“It just goes to show the person he is, because a normal rapper wouldn’t do that, they would say, ‘Ok, there’s all these other hands over here I could clap. They’re like, ‘Fuck this guy.’ You could see that Lil B is a genuine person, he cares about everybody. He knew that dap was going to mean something to me.” Williams says.
Lil B’s concert wasn’t the only thing that has changed Williams’ life. Williams says that he has made some of the best friends that he has today because of Lil B.
“I’m a big fan of the Call of Duty series,” Williams says, “and after I slipped and broke my leg I was basically stuck playing Call of Duty for six weeks straight. I met this girl online through the game. She sounded hot! I was interested in her and I was thinking ‘oh my gosh she sounds beautiful, but she’s probably all the way across the world.’ I started talking to her and eventually found out she lived right down the street from me! That was so rare. I had a playlist with a whole bunch of Lil B songs like ‘Cookin’ Dance’ going while I was playing Call of Duty and she ended up becoming a fan of Lil B from hearing it over my microphone.
“So we started hanging out and became best friends and we’re still best friends to this day. She actually became really close to Lil B and Lil B would text her and call her occasionally and they would have conversations, like really deep conversations, because she was going through some things in her life and BasedGod was there to support her.”
When somebody does something to disrespect the based world, I’m there trying to get that out, because based world means a lot to me.
Williams says it was through this friendship that he heard about the Task Force. Lil B sent Williams’ friend a direct message on Twitter saying, “I will be revealing this group in the future and I want you to be a part of it. It’s only for the elite of based, like the highest based.”
“Ever since then I see myself as the Task Force general.” Williams says. “Like when somebody does something to disrespect the based world, I’m there trying to get that out, because based world means a lot to me and I’ve noticed over time there are people that are trying to destroy it. I don’t know why but they’re trying to destroy it. So I was always the one to call out people that were fake based or people that weren’t in it for Lil B but were in it for themselves.”
Pauly Restivo is a Chicago native who studies digital cinema production at DePaul University, but when he isn’t wrapped up in schoolwork he can be found protecting the bitch, as Task Force members would say when referring to the protection of Lil B.
“I think the Task Force is online because that’s where he puts most of his music—he barely has any concerts. I always see XXL, Pitchfork, even his own Facebook postings, they’re always people that go and try to troll and talk shit,” Restivo says. “The Task Force are the people that protect him on there and try to say what he’s really about. They try to keep negativity out, but also it’s an in-person thing too. There are videos where people are throwing shit at him while he’s performing and like saying stuff to him. I forgot who, like some fuckin’ nobody, piece of shit rapper punched him in the face— if Task Force was present that would not happen.”
Restivo has found inspiration in Lil B’s music and based philosophy, learning not to care what other people think of him. He thinks that the based mind-state helped Lil B tear down the homophobic association that came with men wearing pink.
“People would call him a bitch or something and he just says, ‘You know what, I’m gonna do whatever I like. If I like a pink bandana then I’mma wear a fuckin’ pink bandana.’ He’s really made it cool to be yourself, he put the positive spin on it,” Restivo says. “It’s never gonna seem like a masculine thing, but through this I think that that role has definitely been reversed.”
It is now late July and the Task Force is still waiting for Lil B’s impending Thugged Out Pissed Off mixtape. Earlier in the year, Lil B tweeted the message below, encouraging the flock to be patient. For the Task Force, that won’t be a problem—they’ll be there for Lil B regardless.
Through their communal bonding over animal activism, rap debates, the color pink, relationship advice, and the protection of Lil B, the Task Force continues to stay positive and based.