Perennial hip-hop optimist Lil B stood alone onstage for his Friday afternoon set. But then again, why wouldn't he? As he repeatedly reminded his obsessed fans, he does everything himself. No DJ, no band, no hype-man. Just the Oakland rapper, alone in a too-tight teal top, sunglasses, his grills glistening on his teeth and his wrecked, holey blue jeans -- the ones he's bragged about wearing for the past decade.
"A beautiful time to be alive," he said between sets, which certainly must be true for the independent-minded, oddly magnetic rapper, producer and marketing genius. An artist who ascended from social media with a joyously gawky approach to beats and rhymes, Lil B is a baffling phenomenon whose presence mid-afternoon likely confirmed every close-minded AC/DC fan's worst suspicions about contemporary hip-hop.
"Up the murder rate, do a drive by with your guns in the car," he rapped during "Murder Rate," a track that gleefully moves through violent and misogynist hip-hop tropes with equanimity, despite the more progressive rhetoric he regularly espouses on Twitter. "If you in club or if you at a party, pull the guns out, let's get it started!" On paper, kind of dumb.
Pretty great live, though, in a punk rock kind of way. Unlike beat-makers who want to be taken seriously by stressing musicianship, structure, complicated arrangements and footnoted witticisms, Lil B entertained with wicked non sequiturs, ridiculous boasts and generally baffling presentation, someone seeming to will himself into the spotlight. His set was wild, funny and joyful, a truth proved by rapper Tyler, the Creator's bounce-along participation near the front of the stage. The Odd Future member rapped along with B from within the crowd. He wasn't alone.