B.o.B recently released the second installment to his No Genre series. Before the release, the ATL rappper sparked some interest for No Genre 2 with the single “Swing My Way” featuring Sevyn Streeter. Fans of No Genre were ready to see what else the 2009 XXL Freshman had to offer. With features from Kevin Gates, T.I. and Ty Dolla $ign combined with a production roster of Sonny Digital, Tommy Brown and Bobby Ray himself, the expectations were high. Coming off his lukewarm LP Underground Luxury, B.o.B felt the need to return to his first tape that got the biggest response. On No Genre 2, he approaches the concept in a refreshing way, but listeners are left with familiar hip-hop records rather than seeing him set a new standard.
The first words heard may sound a bit familiar, but if you aren’t up on your history game, that is a snippet from Franklin Roosevelt’s first inaugural speech with the iconic words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” B.o.B immediately takes us to the South with the first track “Mission Statement” where he defines what it means to not have a genre, but ironically the heavy drums and texture of the production screams a rap beat. He changes the vibe with “Many Rivers” with its more soulful sound, but doesn’t change much lyrically and it almost seems like he is reiterating the same point that he can’t be put into a box.
Halfway through the mixtape the production is consistent with its quality but there is no real change up in the tone of the mixtape to maintain the title No Genre. The track “Lean On Me” featuring the smooth vocals of Victoria Monet stood out in the tracklist with its deep bass and slow tempo. Bobby Ray supplies some summer bangers like “Get Right” produced by Sonny Digital. The track sticks to the feel-good mood with a catchy chorus that’ll get some heavy rotation at cookouts and clubs.
The features throughout No Genre 2 are solid, including verses from B.o.B’s Hustle Gang on “Chosen” with T.I. and Spodee. He also uses the platform to showcase some of his own roster from No Genre Records: Jake Lambo and Mike Fresh. While No Genre 2 soars with head-nodding production, Bobby Ray didn’t exactly expand outside of what fans already know about him. The balance of a well-rounded tape is lacking here, but it’s a small price to pay to witness B.o.B’s ambition of always trying to raise the bar.—Geneva Perezcastaneda