Three years, two albums and two mixtapes after dropping his first “No Genre” mixtape, B.o.B. returns with a worthy sequel. Can B.o.B be contained in one genre?
B.o.B. is one of those artist that currently stands in a grey area: he's attained mainstream success thanks to catchy tunes, but he's also a seasoned rapper, and finds himself balancing between full-out pop music and more hardened hip-hop. So who are his main fans, the picky hip-hop heads or the avid radio listeners? On No Genre 2 he makes a plea for both.Â
Three years, two albums and two mixtapes after dropping his firstÂ No GenreÂ mixtape, B.o.B. returns with the sequel. Staying true to form, the Decatur, Ga. wordsmith explores various flows and beats to reinforce his claim of there being no genre he solidly falls under. More so, though, it seems he's aiming to prove there's no rap sub-category he can't do-- as everything still has a pop-tinged quality (which makes him very radio accessible), and it's safe to say the entire mixtape is still rap music, however it definitely varies from socially conscious to turnt up, and more.Â
From the jump, B.o.B. preps fans for the onslaught with Franklin D. Rooseveltâs famous saying from his first presidential inaugural address: âThe only thing we have to fear is fear itself.â That in itself gives a peek at what the B.o.B has to offer with his latest.
Could the fear stem from being different or tragically falling in the same line as every other rhymesayer? âNo genreâ is perhaps a mind state for B.o.B. Labelling himself âJesus on the microphoneâ as well as a darker Jimmy Carter, B.o.B. reminds fans why they love him on âMission Statement.â
"They donât want you to speak the truth because when you speak the truth, they like to make you feel crazy" B.o.B says on "Mission Statement." "Sometimes it feels like its just us against the world, who really has our best interest?"
With each tune, itâs evident that B.o.B has more in mind than highlighting his eclectic way of rhyming and living. The rapper formally addresses the term âno genreâ while referencing the mixtapeâs predecessor at the end of âMany Riversâ But he goes deeper with it by using âno genreâ as a description of his career.
"No Genre. People ask me what No Genre means. You know, I once did a mixtape called No GenreÂ I didn't realize that no genre man, like no genre really described my career. People started, like, gravitating toward No Genre and, you know, I was like, "Fuck it, let's do a part two" It really can't be defined by any genre, so fuck it man, No Genre," he shares.
Itâs not a stretch to put B.o.B in multiple lanes thanks to notable past collaborations with folks outside of hip-hop (Bruno Mars â âNothinâ On You,â Haley Williams -âAirplanes,â Jessie J â âPrice Tag,â One Direction â âGood Life,â remix, Kesha â âBlowâ remix, Katy Perry âThe One That Got Awayâ remix and Taylor Swift â âBoth of Usâ), however that doesn't necessarily mean he has absolutely no genre.Â
Streeter and Monet give âLean On Me,â âSwing My Wayâ (which brings back memories of the KP and Envy song) and âThe Nationâ a soulful weight. Lambo, who seemed to warm up on âLamboâ continues his stand-out strategy on the latter track, which finds him rapping from the viewpoint of a son whoâs determined to venture out into the danger-filled world, despite his motherâs pleas to hold off. As you take in the idea 'no genre' throughout the mixtape, B.o.B. integrates odes to partying (âGet Rightâ Feat. Mike Fresh), drinking (the Ty Dolla $ign-assisted âDrunk AFâ) and smoking (âSo Whatâ Feat. Mila J), all with diverse production. And letâs not forget the storytelling and points to think on (âThe Nation,â âFollow Meâ and âSwing My Wayâ).
The beats from Kutt The Check, Tommy Brown, Ju Boy, Sonny Digital and Shekspere help set the mood, whatever mood that might be on a particular record. But like the guest vocalists, B.o.B.âs production stands out most, as heard on mellow offerings such as âMany Rivers,â âFollow Meâ and âSwing My Way.â
If thereâs any downside, it may be the unnecessary skits with DC Young Fly on No Genre 2. Although they provide the comic relief, theyâre really not needed. The diversion from rapping can just be left to the singing B.o.B. found on âFollow Me.â
Overall, No Genre 2Â is a solid follow-up to its predecessor. While it's nice to be able to tackle multiple styles of music, and B.o.B may be able to do just that, at the same time, it may be preferable to stick to what you know best, as this is probably also what the fans want to hear. Nonetheless, Bobby Ray does display his rap versatility.
What do you think of the mixtape? Listen and download it below.