A new breed of rapper has emerged within the last few years; one that is stuck between their golden age and the current music scene, which is a fusion of everything elitists proclaim isn’t Hip-Hop. This group of undaunted artists define Hip-Hop on their own terms and don’t give a damn what anyone has to say about it. This courage they have gives them the freedom to do what the hell they want with no remorse. And this cluster of genre-benders includes none other than Grand Hustle’s, B.o.B.
Free of the box that confines him to one style, B.o.B.’s mixtape, No Genre is a true testament to where he dwells musically. This mixtape is a musical kaleidoscope of pop, R&B, Hip Hop, electronica, alternative, punk, and everything else he felt like including, which some won’t swallow easily. But even those who label him a pop rapper have to admit he pulls it off extremely well.
No Genre kicks off with “Beast Mode,” which is a brash and forceful track where B.o.B. gets reflective from when he was “nameless” to where he stands today. He lyrically annihilates this colorful, layered, and triumphantly energetic beat that coincides perfectly with the story. While the simplicity of the track on “So So” is a bit monotonous, “How U Do” escalates the energy back, which B.o.B. coasts alongside perfectly.
“Grand Hustle Kings” featuring Young Dro and TI borrows from Quincy Jones’ “Streetbeater” (or the Sanford and Son theme, as most know it), which is disturbing at first, but eventually grows on the listener. If you can’t get beyond the construction of the beat, you will definitely appreciate the delivery, as all three emcees are as sharp as adamantium claws. The Foreigner-sampled “Cold As Ice” seems like ground already covered by M.O.P., while“Attraction” lacks in virtually all departments. Nevertheless, “Shoot Up The Station,” “Batman Flow” and “The Watchers” are all great additions to the mixtape giving it more x’s in the good column then bad.
B.o.B. put together an illustrious mixtape that has endless possibilities, but he has a few barricades that won’t be easy conquer. The fearlessness and artistic liberty he has could possibly alienate the devoted heads that want hard hitting/boom bap beats and candid, cerebral lyrics. Meanwhile, the progressives and pop crowd will become weary if he completely goes left. The point is, B.o.B. will not be able to please everybody, so he shouldn’t bother trying.
In the end, No Genre is one of the best mixtapes released in 2010. It is drenched in colorful narratives, as well as rousing, boisterous beats, along with tons of personality. He also justifies his placement on MTV’s annual hottest MC list here. He’s introspective, gutsy, charismatic and has pretty good hold on storytelling and delivery. However, comparing him to 3-Stacks, as some critics have done, is extremely premature as he has a long way to go. His lyricism could be tighter, but if he stays in “beast mode,” he will ultimately become one of the most dominant artists in music, no matter the genre.
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