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.
Three years, two albums and two mixtapes after dropping his first No Genre 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.
From the jump, B.o.B. preps fans for the onslaught with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous saying from his first presidential inaugural address: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” 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? “No genre” is perhaps a mind state for B.o.B. Labelling himself “Jesus on the microphone” as well as a darker Jimmy Carter, B.o.B. reminds fans why they love him on “Mission Statement.”
"They don’t 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, it’s evident that B.o.B has more in mind than highlighting his eclectic way of rhyming and living. The rapper formally addresses the term “no genre” while referencing the mixtape’s predecessor at the end of “Many Rivers” But he goes deeper with it by using “no genre” as a description of his career.
"No Genre. People ask me what No Genre means. You know, I once did a mixtape called No Genre 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.
It’s not a stretch to put B.o.B in multiple lanes thanks to notable past collaborations with folks outside of hip-hop (Bruno Mars – “Nothin’ On You,” Haley Williams -“Airplanes,” Jessie J – “Price Tag,” One Direction – “Good Life,” remix, Kesha – “Blow” remix, Katy Perry “The One That Got Away” remix and Taylor Swift – “Both of Us”), however that doesn't necessarily mean he has absolutely no genre.
Streeter and Monet give “Lean On Me,” “Swing My Way” (which brings back memories of the KP and Envy song) and “The Nation” a soulful weight. Lambo, who seemed to warm up on “Lambo” continues his stand-out strategy on the latter track, which finds him rapping from the viewpoint of a son who’s determined to venture out into the danger-filled world, despite his mother’s pleas to hold off. As you take in the idea 'no genre' throughout the mixtape, B.o.B. integrates odes to partying (“Get Right” Feat. Mike Fresh), drinking (the Ty Dolla $ign-assisted “Drunk AF”) and smoking (“So What” Feat. Mila J), all with diverse production. And let’s not forget the storytelling and points to think on (“The Nation,” “Follow Me” and “Swing My Way”).
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.’s production stands out most, as heard on mellow offerings such as “Many Rivers,” “Follow Me” and “Swing My Way.”
If there’s any downside, it may be the unnecessary skits with DC Young Fly on No Genre 2. Although they provide the comic relief, they’re really not needed. The diversion from rapping can just be left to the singing B.o.B. found on “Follow Me.”
Overall, No Genre 2 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.