Lil B Explains James Harden Curse: 'I Pray He's Not a Tool'

Lil B vs James Harden
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“Where is his heart and soul? Does he care about real art, or where he’s getting things from?” the Bay Area rapper asks of the Rockets star.

Are the Houston Rockets on the brink of elimination in the NBA playoffs because they ran into the juggernaut Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals -- or because Lil B placed a hex upon Houston's star player, James Harden?

Last week, the Bay Area rapper called out the MVP runner-up on social media, saying that Harden had failed to credit him while using the "cooking dance" -- a stirring-the-pot motion often utilized after hitting a big shot, that the eccentric artist has been using onstage and in videos for years. Lil B issued a warning to Harden that he could fall under the "Based God curse" for the rest of the 2015 playoffs, and sure enough, the Rockets followed a heartbreaking Game 2 defeat against Golden State with a blowout Game 3 loss at home in Houston. Harden shot a pitiful 3-for-16 in the latter game, which was a 115-80 loss on Saturday night (May 23).

This isn't the first time Lil B has "cursed" an NBA superstar: the rapper/producer, who performed at Coachella last month and will give a lecture at UCLA later this week, was dissed by Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant four years ago, and Lil B responded to the diss by challenging Durant to a game of one-on-one. Durant consented, then changed his mind -- and the curse lives on, with Durant still ring-less and losing most of last season to injury.

So why is Lil B -- who repeatedly tells his audiences "I love you" during his shows -- so focused on mystical warfare against basketball stars? The Based God spoke to Billboard on Monday afternoon (hours before Harden and the Rockets eked out a Game 4 victory to stay alive in the playoffs) about the Houston situation, who he's rooting for in the playoffs and why he questions Kevin Durant's love of basketball.

BILLBOARD: How did you hear about this whole dance thing with Harden?

LIL B: Well, I've been watching Harden do it for a long time. My supporters will always send me videos and say, "Oh, Harden's doing the cooking dance." He was really doing it a lot this year, and the Based God really told me -- as I channeled in to finally speak about it during these playoffs -- the Based God just gave me the go-ahead to speak on it. I am Lil B the Based God, but the Based God is perfect, and who I strive to be. He gave me the okay to say that about Harden, and the people really felt it. Seeing the response… I mean, I'm always dealing with a lot of people stealing my stuff, and it's hard for the masses to find out sometimes where something originated from. You have to protect yourself and call something out, and see where Harden is. Does Harden really know about true artistry? What is Harden paying attention to?

When you started sounding off on Harden, did you see it becoming such an Internet thing where people started saying, "Maybe this actually is affecting James Harden and the Rockets"?

I definitely knew it was going to be that. I don't really do anything unless it's from the heart -- I don't like to joke on people, or distract them from something they love. This was something I really needed answers for, to see what type of character Harden has. And that rubs off into him playing the game. I mean, the curse is very real. Dealing with the Kevin Durant curse, you see that [the Rockets] lost by 35 points [in Game 3], which is the same number as Kevin Durant's jersey. Some people could say it's a conspiracy, but we know what's up.

After I cursed Kevin Durant last year, he became injured, and his team didn't even make it to the playoffs. He just hasn't been the same factor, you know? So for the Kevin Durant curse, all he has to do is play me one-on-one, in a game of 21, and the curse will be done. That's easy! If Kevin Durant loves basketball -- I mean, I hear he's trying to be a rapper. I'm an artist, I love rapping, so it's nothing for me to rap with Kevin Durant, or freestyle with him. But does Kevin Durant really love basketball? Play a game of 21! He's not that busy.

Do you see the Durant curse ever being lifted?

Once he sticks to his word and plays me in a game of 21. He agreed to it, and then his came back on his word. Until he plays Lil B, I really don't see him winning any championships any time soon. And he's cursed.

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So is Harden officially cursed? I saw you give Harden a warning, but has he been stamped with the curse?

Harden has officially been cursed, but as the Based God said, it's only for these playoffs. It's not as dramatic as Kevin Durant's curse. This all started with Harden not saying where his celebration came from. And it's been everywhere, it's everyone saying that it's the Lil B cooking dance that he's been doing. You have to be a real artist and show respect to the true creators. Shouts out to Drake -- he had a big show in Houston, and Harden's down 3-0 and he's going out to party with Drake! What's up with this guy?

What is up with this guy?

I really don't know, man. I just pray for his personality and his sportsmanship and knowledge of true art, and where it comes from. It's just like a Picasso painting -- some people might have recreated a Picasso painting many times, and there might be some gullible buyers that buy that Picasso painting, not even knowing that it's not original. To me, I think you should want the real artist, not the off-brand stuff. If you support the artist and you like something, support the truth.

What do you do to put these curses into motion? Is there some sort of ritual?

It's all from the Based God. I get word from the Based God, and he does the rest. I'm Lil B, but the Based God does what he does. I mean, when Harden was cursed, why did he lose by the same amount of points by the jersey number of the person who was originally cursed, Kevin Durant? My whole life has been full of messages and things that come together extremely naturally. There's no question that Harden is part of this.

The Atlanta Hawks reached out to you on Twitter to pay homage, and Cleveland and Golden State fans have also wanted to avoid curses. Are you a fan of any of the remaining teams?

The Hawks, the Golden State Warriors, the [Cleveland] Cavaliers -- we're all family and we all support each other. These people also support Lil B and Lil B music, and we got love for each other. Shout-out to [Golden State's] Oracle Arena in Oakland for housing a beautiful team and being in an amazing community. I really love where the arena is situated. This is a great time for all of us, and Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Bogut, David Lee, Speights, Iguodala -- we're super proud of them. We got the best team in the NBA.

Your music and live show often radiate positivity, but I'm sure some casual fans think of you as the guy who keeps cursing basketball players. What would you say to those people?

There's a lot of people that we call quote-unquote "tools," and the people that are saying that are most likely tools. They have to go deeper. I just gotta keep doing what I'm doing, and just continuing to grow and progress as an artist. People who are saying that about Lil B need to be innovative and not be tools.

Do you see the Warriors closing out the Rockets in Game 4, to complete the sweep and the curse?

My friends and I wanted to go to a Game 5, but right now, the Rockets… you know, it's all in James Harden's heart. Where is his heart and soul? Does he care about real art, or where he's getting things from? He might not win for the simple fact that he's not conscious of what's going on. There are people that have a lot of money, but just aren't conscious and are tools. I pray he's not a tool.