A Review of B.o.B’s “B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray”
The state of hip hop in 2006 was in complete disarray, especially when Nas professed that “Hip Hop Is Dead.” The phrase became a musical SOS for a new generation of emcees to arrive and make their own mark in the hip hop industry. The golden age of the late ‘80s and early to mid-‘90s was long forgotten as artists entered the new millennium with a mindset focused on wealth and materialism as opposed to lyricism and content. The artistry and creativity of those who placed their heart and soul into their craft were becoming a dime a dozen as hip hop shifted its priorities. It became quite transparent that the demand for club bangers were in vogue while everything else seemed insignificant.
Bang! Enter 2010. The industry has undergone an incredible makeover over the past four years. It started off with Lupe Fiasco, and the pool of talented yet grounded rappers have continued to alter the landscape for the betterment of hip hop. The newest emcee that has captured the recognition and adulation from the entire hip hop community is B.o.B. B.o.B. is regarded as one of the most adroit and versatile artists with an ability to perform numerous instruments such as piano, guitar and drums, along with his signature rapping and singing. He has amassed comparisons to Andre 3000 of Outkast, considered one of the most prolific rappers to ever bless the microphone.
B.o.B first gained notoriety when he was featured on T.I.’s 2008 Grammy Award-Winning album Paper Trails on the track “On Top of the World.” As a result of the success and attention that was garnered, B.o.B began releasing several mixtapes and singles, which included “I’ll Be In The Sky.” This spurred widespread anticipation for B.o.B to release his debut album with all the buzz and accolades that Kid Cudi and Asher Roth had accumulated with their respective albums.
The Adventures of Bobby Ray cannot be solely examined as a hip hop album, as B.o.B has fused together the genres of hip hop, pop and alternative. His guest appearances range from the most respected rappers in the game (Eminem, T.I. and Lupe Fiasco) to the leading men and women of alternative rock (Rivers Cuomo, lead singer of Weezer, and Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore). The entire album is produced by B.o.B and every track is fitted accordingly to each individual artist, with B.o.B having the proclivity to adapt to practically any style.
With “Nothin On You” (featuring Bruno Mars) bellowing from radio stations across the country and abroad, B.o.B has already established himself as a household name early in his career. The standout tracks on the album include “Airplanes, Pt. II,” “Ghost In the Machine,” and “The Kids”. In “Airplanes, Pt. II” (featuring Hayley Williams & Eminem), B.o.B and Eminem lay verses imagining what their lives would entail if they never decided to choose rap as a profession. On “Ghost In The Machine,” B.o.B harmonizes as someone lost in the crowd without any sense of direction and, in the end, embarks on a journey to escape the reality that has contributed to his inner struggles. “The Kids” (featuring Janelle Monae) is a rendition of Vampire Weekend’s “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance,” a social commentary centered around kids falling into the cracks of society that does not evoke a feeling of preachiness.
The superhero persona that B.o.B has seemingly embraced has enabled the one-time Subway employee to reach for the stars and chase his dreams.
Airplanes, Pt. II
Ghost In The Machine