As previously written, I've been looking forward to B.o.B's major-label debut for most of the last year. At only 21, this rapper/producer/singer/instrumentalist out of ATL has been releasing mixtapes and building buzz since 2006. For the past two years he has been consistently labeled as one of hip-hop's promising young talents, but what has been fascinating for me is the clinic he and Grand Hustle / Atlantic Records have been putting on in patience and timing with his exposure.
After six mixtapes, there is little doubt that Bobby Ray has talent. Working up to major-label, his 4th and 5th mixtapes established his credential in the underground community while his 6th served to promote his upcoming LP (similar to J. Cole). What we start to see is a few singles helping to break the ice into the hip-hop charts and a calculated new single to expand exposure. Apparently, the single "Nothin' on You" was originally written for Lupe Fiasco but turned down. B.o.B. and his label jumped on it and built a track that has exploded. Not only is it a purposeful cross-over track, most likely building off of the huge recent success of genre-blending acts like Drake, but it was released at the perfect time a number of months before the LP release. This blend of pop, rap, rock, etc. is a picture of the array of genres found on the LP and peaked a few days before the release at #1 on billboard.
B.o.B - The Kids (feat. Janelle Monáe)
After a few listens, the album "B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray" is a lot of fun. The prime complaints are that the eclectic mix of styles may be a bit off-putting for some, and none of the styles are done in a particularly innovative or ground-breaking way. That said, there are some really great tracks including the opening "Don't Let Me Fall" where Bobby spaces out about the dangers of a rise to fame. "Bet I" is no-nonsense braggadocio about the ability to flow on a beat with an overall great homage to the ATL and cameos from T.I. and Playboy Tre. "Kids" is probably the most interesting track on the album where he teams up with Janelle Monae to reinvent the Vampire Weekend track and "Airplanes" tracks bookend the album with an Eminem feature where, in typical fashion on his features, he goes hard on the verse.
It's a bit of fresh air for the hip-hop community and a mainstream release that is something that I put my money behind. Look for him in San Francisco May 4th and 5th touring with Lupe Fiasco.