tumblr_nubondBemI1uwfqcdo2_500Two songs into Dom Kennedy’s new mixtape, the LA Leakers-assisted Best After Bobby Two, I did something you should never do: I started reading the comments.

These particular commentators stood out not for their nuanced hot takes, trolling skills, and prodigious insult vocabulary, but rather for their heterogeneity. Almost to a man (or woman), on several different websites offering this sequel to 2009’s Best After Bobby, the feedback was profoundly negative.

Much of the anger stemmed from Dom’s perceived lack of effort, with ‘lazy’ becoming the go-to buzzword:

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Some lashed out:

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Others let known their displeasure while searching for an answer:

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Many professed their love of all things Dom Kennedy while simultaneously disowning this addition to his discography:

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And then there was my favorite comment of them all:

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With all due respect to Luda Richie, Underground King and others who took valuable time out of their day to express their dismay, they’re wrong and I hate them. Dom’s flow on Bobby Two is lazy, he does sound bored and it’s not his best work. However, they’re wrong to denounce this mixtape as:

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And if Hurricane Chris‘s new mixtape is better than this, I, like most others I presume, am never going to take the time to find out.

For those unfamiliar with Dom Kennedy, Best After Bobby Two is a poor starting point because the production quality is poor. Some will look at this and say Kennedy overplayed his cards, assuming he’s built up enough loyalty among his followers that they will swallow whatever he feeds them and thank him no matter what. They will accuse him of hubris. Others (myself included) have never lived under the presumption that Dom really cares what the average fan thinks of his music, and instead sees a sort of virtuosic triumphalism weaved throughout the tape’s 15 tracks. Dom, who released his critically acclaimed studio album, By Dom Kennedy, back in June, has little left to prove. Rather, Best After Bobby Two strikes home as a mixtape by a music aficionado who loves music and loves making music, so he went ahead and rapped on some older, well-known beats.

All the things that have made Dom Kennedy a west-coast cult rapper — the substance and aura he meticulously constructed on mixtapes like From the Westside With Love, The Original Dom Kennedy and The Yellow Album — are present on Best After Bobby Two, though you might have to look harder to find them. It’s helpful to look at Kennedy as the West Coast version of Curren$y; both have amassed a huge following despite rarely flirting with full-fledged stardom thanks to their laid-back and approachable personas, off-the-cuff lyricism, and dedication to maintaining their unique styles. Like Curren$y, Dom has shown a dedication to his craft that engenders respect. This, more than any other reason, is why this new Dom project deserves patience from his fans. Relax, people, Dom hasn’t fallen off, he just decided to have some fun on this one.

As usual, he’s making music for the cool kids table. With the risk of overextending the comparison, this is Dom’s equivalent to Curren$y’s Sports Center Vol.1 — the only obvious difference being that Spitta released his vanity project early on in his come-up, while Best After Bobby Two came well after Dom established himself. It’s nothing more than Dom hopping on popular beats (“Big Pimpin,” “Frontin,” “Bling Bling”and “Gin n’ Juice” all make appearances, among others), freestyling a little here, and spittin’ some lines he probably wrote on a napkin during breakfast there. It’s obvious Dom has listened to and adopted some of Lil B‘s sprawling, stream-of-consciousness techniques, but the wordplay is superb as always, particularly on the intro “Endle$$” and his assist on Beyonce’s “Girl,” where he seamlessly mixes his standard lifestyle observations

“My Barnes & Noble card still valid

So shout to DJ Babu…and Khaled

Steak with the seafood on top, side salad”

with smooth-talking, alpha-male tendencies:

“Her lips look like they got something to say to me

Send me pics when you’re out of town, don’t play with me

Those shorts with your butt poking out they’re ok with me”

Ultimately, the lack of positive reception for BAB2 is a byproduct of a spoiled fan base. We’ve come to expect our favorite rappers’ mixtapes to be complete projects of album quality, complete with a theme, discernible beginning, middle and end and a pat on the back at the end that says, “Thanks for getting it.” When an artist doesn’t take the time to do this (think CyHi‘s Jack of All Trades or Kid Cudi‘s Rap Hard), when he instead makes songs for himself because, believe it or not, he just likes to rap and play around sometimes, people get upset.

There is no over-arching message to Best After Bobby Two. Song three is independent of song two and song four, and that’s okay.  f you’re looking for the next banger to play at your next party, you won’t find it on this tape. If you’re looking for an open/closed “mini-album,” you, too, will be disappointed. That’s not meant to sound snobbish and suggest that not liking this tape means you just don’t understand real hip-hop — but if you’re looking for a rapper with prodigious skills playing around on beats, tinkering, messing, growing (the skits all allude to Dom’s growth), and creating music for the sake of creating music, take an afternoon and enjoy Best After Bobby Two. If you come away feeling like you just wasted your time, no worries: I hear Hurricane Chris just dropped some fire.