Montana’s latest mixtape, which released November 20th, is a project that suffers many of the ills that plague mass appeal works. Mileage will vary by entire degrees here. For better or worse, Mac and Cheese 3 is a testament to the shift in rap culture toward more niche work.

For all of that, the mixtape itself straddles the fence; it isn’t terrific or terrible.

The most laudable aspect of the work is the production. French has a fantastic ear for beats. “Intro,” “Grownups” and “Diamonds” are just a few of the dynamic instrumentals at play. Producer Black Metaphor definitely made a memorable contribution with “Sanctuary,” which samples Utada Hikaru’s song of the same name from “Kingdom Hearts 2.” These are also some of the more adventurous instrumentals on the tape, and are actually a pretty good look for Montana.

Records like “No Sunshine” or “Intro” present a more reflective French with no small amount of lyrical finesse while tracks like “Tic Toc” and “Dance Move” are typical trunk or club bangers. Club records vastly outnumber the more thoughtful ones on Mac and Cheese 3, which makes for a potentially awkward listen since Montana clearly tried for a balance. The tape may have been more cohesive if he leaned one way or the other, or struck a tighter balance.

That isn’t to say the tape needs to be cohesive in the first place. It is a mixtape after all, not an album, though the eclectic features make it feel like one. Popular acts like Rick Ross, J. Cole and Wale make an appearance, as well as several of New York’s superstars like Diddy, Fat Joe and Fabolous.

The biggest problem with this mixtape is its lack of originality; a result of pandering to a mass audience and an ailment that afflicts much of contemporary rap. Montana makes constant use of pitch effects on his hooks that sound nearly identical to the work of Future, who also has a feature on the tape. The melody, flow and beat on “Devil Want My Soul,” Young Chop production noted, sounds dangerously similar to Chief Keef’s “Love Sosa.”

Mac and Cheese 3 certainly has its yin and yang, but its lane is jammed to full at this point. French Montana is a promising artist and, should he navigate a creative niche, has potential to make some great rap.

Download the mixtape here.