He’s at it again. After releasing a near double-digit total of mixtapes in 2011, Soulja Boy is back with more free music in early 2012, in the form of his latest mixtape, Obey, which follows up January’s 50/13. Though, at 12 tracks, this offering comes in a more digestible dosage than the majority of his other tapes, which often log around 20 songs, Obey finds SB unable to break out of his recent rut of producing frequent, but disposable music.
The mixtape kicks off on a high note, with the hyper “Hop Out,” a collaboration with Taylor Gangers Chevy Woods and Juicy J. As Chevy crafts a catchy hook and Juicy J bring his patented rowdiness to the track, Soulja holds his own with the project’s first verse—an unimpressive though thematically fitting frenzy of words. As the tape progresses, though, that formula becomes unsustainable. SB’s flows continue to sound forced, and he comes off perplexingly uncomfortable on record for someone who has put out some 100 songs in the last year.
Both in his cadence and content, Soulja Boy seems to be freestyling his way through the bulk of Obey. Whether or not this was indeed the case is unclear. What’s a bit easier to determine is that lines like “Higher than a fuck, higher than a duck,” on the sonically settling change of pace “Focused,” are not only elementary in composition, but also peculiar (sure, ducks can fly, but they’re certainly not known for their tendencies to spend time off the ground). Things pick up a bit during the tracks where the SODMG honcho brings along guests, as the Game feature “Too Faded,” and Cheif Keef’s two spots on “Say She Luv Me” and “3hunna” bring some moments of salvage to the tape.
By now, no one should be clicking play on a Soulja Boy song with hopes of having to hit the rewind button to better grasp the intricacies of what he’s saying. The Interscope signee has built his career on entertaining, dance-ready rhymes and rhythms that can kick a Saturday night into gear. The production here is reliable enough that the tape could still find its place in the background of that sort of setting, but Soulja Boy’s uninspired approach on Obey prevents it from being much else. On “Focused,” he praises his many followers, at one point saying “my fans is flames.” Indeed, it’s their passionate following that allows the young rapper to continue to put out his music, and you can be sure he’ll do just that. —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)