Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Music Video, 2014
3 min., 32 sec.
Castillo: this is going to be very, multi-media...while we also talk about real things happening in reality
very, = very...
is that alright ?
well, both these things are reality
Ramos: what do you like about Lil B?
Castillo: it's part of the construction of his image
he's hyper existing in a plane of pure image
Ramos: as opposed to a plane of reality or truth?
Castillo: no, as opposed to existing within a frame
or a framework
Ramos: you don't think his image has parameters?
Castillo: it's always fabricated, there by debunking any perceived truth provided by a frame. I think he's really exhausting every performative image in hiphop in order to reach a state of being
No Black Person Is Ugly
Music Video, 2014
4 min., 2 sec.
Castillo: we'll stick to his late album and the videos that have come out of there
i think it's important to talk about these multiple planes. he's doing something by performing where he's folding his identity back into that hyper reality
because while it seems he's being really dumb, he's actually being profound and saying things that no one else is saying at the moment
Ramos: this second video is different than the first, there is a sense of humanity, of humility even, unlike the first which although might be portraying a sense of reality, it is violent in it's delivery, self centered
a version of reality... i need better words for violent and self centered
i mean the song is called rent's due
if you are a serious rapper
thats the last thing thats ever talked about
Ramos: I like the content, I'm sure this is a constant and common situation
Ramos: and it's a harsh reality, exchanging sex for rent
Castillo: but thats the thing with Lil B, he's almost just performing a mirror of the assumptions of hiphop
on every plane
low level rapper, 'balling' rapper, socially conscious rapper
Ramos: sensitive rapper
he also catches beef with basketball players and makes whole albums dissing them
taking it 'back to the game'
Ramos: yes, I see Lil B has beef with Durant
there are limited ways to attract attention to one self - do you think Lil B found his niche in the low-level drama because the high-end has been largely saturated?
Castillo: well he is his own meme and he's been working it for a good 6-7 years by now
when myspace was the standard he had over 150 different accounts
all of them had different music
like 7 songs
he has a self help book
i find it really interesting to see the length and duration of this kind of lived performance
Ramos: he's taken advantage of all the contemporary means of communication, social media especially... memes,
he himself has totally become liquid with all the means of self promotion
Ramos: it's not at all about the music
although he has talent, he is compensating with all these attachments
spreading himself thin, or just spreading himself, it is sort of brilliant
his own freestyles are called based freestyles
he released a mixtape that had 848 based freestyle songs
he's on a mission to become the best rapper alive where he just always raps gold
Ramos: ODB has similar content
Music Video, 1995
3 min., 52 sec.
Ramos: and without the need to sell himself so desperately
there is desperation in social media
Castillo: but thats the thing
ODB sold out
Lil B has only released one record
Ramos: you don't think Lil B is dying to "sell out"
all his music is free
he's performing the entire history of hihop
and owning it for himself
Letter To My Family
Music Video, 2014
4 min., 56 sec.
Castillo: when he releases his own music, all the beats on his mixtapes are taken from other songs or fans send him beats for free to use
Ramos: do you think people would buy his music? it's a different market entirely, incomparable to what ODB had available
Castillo: the fact that he's out of 'the game' but still able to survive on sheer support is amazing
it's like metal in the 80s
metal on the radio was hair metal
metal filling stadiums...Iron Maiden
Ramos: it is amazing, he has been able to break free from the monopoly of the industry
with a direct connection to his audience
NYU Lecture (Part 1)
Ramos: is the music at all necessary for Lil B?
is there another category for him?
Castillo: i mean, it is about the music
Ramos: is it?
Castillo: it's weird, it doesn't seem like it
but he's really trying to find an entirely new way of speaking
speaking through action, form, media, content
compressing and letting it contract in your head
he's a black hole
Ramos: i would call this something else, a conglomerate of little pieces of things - but music is just one of many
it's not about the music, I wouldn't call him a musician
Ramos: that's why it has to be free
there is nothing to buy
Castillo: i mean, he's actually using it for it's qualities to transmit a message
and you can do that with many mediums
Castillo: and compounding it with the structures that exist
Ramos: he is an artist
Castillo: except using the ones that are available to us all
Ramos: performance artist
Castillo: the sheer intensity of it is whats interesting to look at
he's constantly performing
there is no beginning or end in a way
Ramos: he is selling himself
it's much more
in the music business, it's a business because of the massive infrastructure that exists with it
the radio stations are owned by them and advertisers pay them and everyone gets paid and product gets moved
he is literally speaking about the possible freedoms available on the Internet and in networked cultures
he's never part of the sale of anything except positivity and creativity
Ramos: he is in Spotify
Castillo: thats a platform outside of industry
unless it's been purchased
but he's making royalties off his music on Spotify
anyone can sign up
or you could go through a distributer
Ramos: i agree with you, but that doesn't make it music
Castillo: i listen to it
Ramos: you listen to people talk too
there is a new form of communication in the making
that's my point
Castillo: ok this is interesting, why isn't it music?
Ramos: his interest as an artist is not to improve his musical aptitude
his interest is to spread his image
Castillo: you also can't disregard one thing because there is no consistency with a sound
i also have to add some back story to this
he was one of these kids that had a boy group in the early 2000s and made money IN the industry
but then left it because it didn't support his own creative endeavors
also provided him a bit of a cushion to start this
Ramos: he is using music as part of a performance
Castillo: thats also kind of limiting
to just call it a performance
Castillo: i think it's performative by nature
but to say it's just a performance negates serious agency
Ramos: i didn't say "just" a performance - there is a lot of power in performance, and Lil B is a great example of that
he dose not invest in the growth of music as a whole, nor does he contribute to the history of music as much as he does the history of performance via social media
Castillo: thats wild
Ramos: what is he contributing?
the content has been done, the style has been done
it's purely the social media aspect
Castillo: except this:
he's literally rewriting himself into history
in the most post-modern way possible
Ramos: you think that's going to last?
Castillo: i don't know, which is why I'm so interested
Ramos: you think he'll be remembered for his music?