by Chris Douglas
Side note: Sitting in my Nike blue shorts that are just a bit too short, eating sweet and sour chicken. I have the Mad Men season 4 finale playing in the background with no sound on, and these characters be having lots of sex. I don’t even watch Mad Men consistently. l just like the visuals (not really the sweaty sex scenes.) I’m talking about the Don Draper’s suit, or Christina Hendricks’ Christina Hendricks.
Back to B.o.B. I listened to B.o.B quite a bit back in 2010 when the predecessor to this mixtape, No Genre, dropped. To be frank, I was underwhelmed by the release. There were some redeeming tracks such as “Beast Mode,” “Higher,” and even “Cold As Ice” that were in my rotation for a good long while. However, for some reason that I can’t seem to identify with the first project–it had no real sticking power.
I found his work easy to slap a “pop-rap” genre sticker on to. (Genre: a word B.o.B seems to have an unrelenting burning hatred of. A hatred that has lasted approximately forty months.) I must say this new release has showed signs of improvement sonically speaking. A lot of the production on the album is interesting, but scattered. There are also some stand out features (I’m looking at you Kevin Gates, you grizzly voiced rappin’ machine). However, some of the problems I had with the first album arose again.
I feel that B.o.B and his team are not particularly good at arranging songs. I find the arrangements to be often extremely derivative with no effort to advance the art form of rap. Take, for example, the 30-second intervals of the ever droning phrase, “Get Right.” I imagine B.o.B says the phrase “Oh it’s fine move on,” a lot of times in the studio.
A lot of the time I find his verses and hooks to be solid. Not solid like a boulder, more so like a frozen lake you would be to scared to step out on. Solid, but transparent. His recycled generic rap lines such as, I’m paraphrasing here, “Ass dumb, head is genius,” are see-through pop-like carbon copies of general rap lyrics. He’s spitting the type of lyrics post-“Rebirth” Lil Wayne would say. The only thing is, B.o.B hasn’t released his “Carter III” or “The Drought is Over 2” yet. He hasn’t earned his right to be underwhelming and yet still hold my attention. It appears B.o.B is playing darts, hoping to hit his bullseye sound, aiming paint at a canvas and seeing what sticks. There is no continuity.
Perhaps I am just hating. Well, at least that’s what a over-zealous B.o.B would tell me.