During his lecture at Carnegie Mellon last week, Lil B took a few moments to pay tribute to fellow Bay Area icon The Jacka, who was murdered last month in his home city. Jacka was largely celebrated for his ability to balance lucid depictions of street life with the unavoidable consequences it brings, and even a cursory skimming of his work reveals a direct precursor to B's Based philosophy of positivity and overcoming. "I want to give a quote from a street poet and an artist that recently passed away," B says around the 7:00 minute mark, before delivering a close reading of a lyric from Jacka's "See It Thru" worthy of a liberal-arts-roundtable dissection.
"Mom's gone, pop's his arm in a belt, me I'm juvenile hall wondering why I hate myself," B needles on. "When you hear that reflection, to me that was a reflection. What it gave me, was strength. Now, I can't relate to everything that he just said in there. His mom is out, she wasn't there, as he might've wanted her to be. He said 'pops arm in a belt,' what I took from that was drug abuse. Then he said 'Me I'm juvenile hall wondering why I hate myself.' I kept playing that over, because there's so many people going through pain who don't know why."
B gleans from the Jacka quote a reading of our dependency on parents to frame our own identities, and how crippling that can be for emerging adults. "You were born into situations that you don't have any control over, you're at the bay of your parents. How much they learned, and how they feel, and what they're going through. It takes a lot of brave people to continuously help, and that's why we have to continuously stay positive and support each other."
It's a small chunk of the hour-long address, but it's moving to see Lil B frame a contemporary's work in front of a hall of students that will more likely interpret quotes from Sartre and Dostoyevsky. "When I listen to his writing, he says things that are healing," B prefaced, a powerful nod to a lost voice the larger hip-hop community is still mourning.