The intersection between rap and R&B has evolved in the last few years, allowing many artists to venture out and expand one talent into multiple talents. This cross pollination has birthed artists that can sing and dance, rap and sing, dance and rap and so much more. But not all artists can multi-task at the same level and unfortunately, Little Rock rapper, SL Jones has proven that on his newest mix tape, Way Of Life No Hobby. Exchanging the tough demeanor heard on Paraphernalia for a more mellow version of himself, Jones sings on many of the songs on the tape, adding a more emotional dimension to his music. Though Jones is quite the talented rapper, singing doesn’t always work in his favor.
The Don Cannon hosted project features 13 tracks that are all produced by newcomer, Metro Boomin, the prodigy behind Future’s “Karate Chop” and more. The production is polished and professional compared to other young producers that are also fairly new to the game, but it can still lapse into formulaic moments. Though Jones is singing on the tape, the topics of the songs match the vibe of the production: Jones continues to rhyme about marking his place in the game, continuing on his path as a rapper, focusing on the important things to him while also turning it up on his haters.
Despite the uniformity of the production, Way Of Life No Hobby still makes room for some high profile guests, including features by Jade Jones, Trouble, Starlito, Kevin Gates, Killer Mike and Mibbs of Pac Div. Mibbs’ overshadows Jones’ on the track, “What They Saying,” as he raps, “Had to switch up my hustle so I said no to vacation/Got my songs in rotation in about a million locations.” Jones’ comes in second on his own track as he rhymes, “They say I be out of control/They say I was out on a boat/These hoes be on my dick ‘cause they know I’m the shit.” Compared to previous singles from Jones, it’s hard not to be disappointed. “Big Bank (No Ones)” is the single to turn-up to but the auto-tune parts on the track makes Jones sound as if he’s drowning in his own words. “Deuces N Treys” is one of the toughest tracks on the tape but Jones still does more rapping then singing on it.
The Number 23, Jones’ last Don Cannon hosted mixtape, was a superior product that truly displayed Jones’ strengths as an artist, showcasing his ear for beats and his lyrical prowess. It seems as if Jones held back on Way of Life No Hobby and isn’t really rapping at his full potential. SL Jones has rhymed on tracks with Killer Mike, Yo Gotti, Freddie Gibbs and has displayed impeccable flows in his past projects but those skills are hidden on this tape. Jones’ needs to stick to more rhyming and less harmonizing. Leave that to the R&B singers of the game. -Jasmina Cuevas