Ever since he burst onto the scene in 2010, B.o.B has come to be known as one of hip hop's Renaissance men thanks to a versatile flow and a wide-ranging list of producers and instrumentation.
On his latest mixtape, No Genre 2, the Grand Hustle MC embraces his propensity for boundless sonic experimentation while still managing to keep it hip hop. Where many southern hip hop artists rely on booming bass and 808s, Bobby Ray refrained from going too heavy on the drums, opting instead to incorporate guitar and keys for his latest.
The introductory song "Mission Statement" served almost as an overture with B.o.B switching up the tempo as well as his flow to give the listener a taste of what's to come.
The "Airplanes" MC blends hip hop and blues on songs like the Kevin Gates-assisted "Lambo" and "Follow Me." Bobby even shows off his R&B skills on the latter, singing over the guitar-laden track which he produced himself.
Sonically, he kept NG2 relatively tame in comparison to his earlier works, though he did turn up briefly on the mixtape's few party songs, like "Drunk AF," which features a solid verse from L.A. crooner Ty Dolla $ign, and the N4-produced "So What."
"When you see me, I'm probably faded/When I'm drinking, then I'm probably wasted/And if you a stranger smoking' my weed upm, you in violation/Intoxicated so my eyes are glazed up and dilated/And all that's on my mind is a fine dime that I could have relations with tonight/Not tomorrow 'cause tomorrow's not tonight/And tomorrow's never promised so I'm gettin' right tonight," Bobby raps.
Topically, NG2 was all over the place, yet still managed connection from track to track, particularly towards the end with songs like "Swing My Way," B.o.B's take on the '90s hit of the same name featuring rising songstress Sevyn Streeter, and the mellow "Lean on Me," on which Bobby Ray is offering words of encouragement while Victoria Monet's vocals complement the synth-heavy beat.
The mixtape flowed well, and at 14 songs (including two skits), it was the perfect length. It also ended on a high note with the T.I.-assisted "Chosen," which was one of the best and most commercial-friendly cuts. B.o.B could have done without filler tracks like "Forget" and "Get Right," the latter of which served as a less dynamic version of his 2012 hit "So Good," but even those were palatable.
Overall, No Genre 2 serves as an extension of B.o.B's unspoken objective, which is to be different from what's out. As an artist and producer, he takes on new territory with every record, only regressing for the occasional radio hit to lure people in. Though he remains hip hop through and through, B.o.B's NG2 has a universal sound that will keep genre lines blurred for years to come.
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(Photo: Atlantic Records)