Not many people can keep their credibility with a name like Bob but Bobby Simmons aka B.o.B has pulled it off oozing uber coolness that makes us mere mortals look positively bland.
2013 sees the rapper (although he might call himself more an artist) further forging a name that is synonymous with success as he enters promo mode pushing his latest album Underground Luxury (his third solo project).
It could be argued that the North Carolina native is now entering a phase of his career where he is on the road to greatness after a string of absolutely huge hits-but caution needs to be heeded. People are able to achieve a tag of “great” for far less nowadays. Names like Jigga, Biggie and of course Pac had to put in hard hustle before the “g” word started to be used.
While there is no clear set time period to denote when an artist steps over from hugely talented to “great” it would be fair to say that having only started his global onslaught five or so years ago that he still has a way to go-but with two globally recognised albums, number 1 singles, firing features with some of the big girls and boys in the industry think Jessie J’s Price Tag (2011) well then he’s not far should his success trajectory continue with the latest album.
“I think it is the versatility of me as an artist and what I bring to them that has brought me success” he states when the question of his meteoric success is posed to him. “What the fans or people that love music gravitate to are things that are interesting: now you can be any type of artist that you want to be. It was not always like that but now more and more people are totally open to anyone being in any genre they want to-there are no restrictions. That’s the type of music I have always made really and I have always wanted to do-music not restricted by genre which I know my fans appreciate”
In 2010 he dropped his hugely successful debut album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray which had huge cuts like Airplanes (2010) and Nothin On You (2010) as the singles which helped to propel the album. He then went on to cement his status with the difficult sophomore challenge and the album Strange Clouds (2012) which was awash with artists dripping with talent; Niki “mhhhhh” Minaj, Lil “say that again” Wayne and Taylor “money” Swift it was vindication of the faith that Jonsin and TI had despite the doubters when they signed him as units multiplied.
“Back in the day I really had to carve out a niche for myself because a lot of people did not want to accept that a pop artist could do the type of records I was doing. The thing is people need to know that before I became classified as a “pop” artist I was doing these types of records before anyone even knew me-this type of vibe is at my core-all my mix-tapes kind of show that you get me?” He adds, “Back then it was about the fans supporting my type of music and the big exes having to take note-it showed who I was as an artists but more importantly, everybody I think knew I was talented but the proof was when the fans started to just multiply.”
In 2013 B.o.B has sought to keep the momentum from his second album Strange Days and bring about a “revolution” with his latest offering and the rather thought provokingly named Underground Luxury. It is a fifteen track strong album that reinforces the view that the rapper and producer has a talent for creating commercially viable hits whilst still looking to pay respect to the hip-hop heads. In this project, he is more reflective and profound relative to past projects as he strives to put some meat on the bones about his beginnings.
“There are definitely a lot of artist out there who want to be an artist because they want to live easy you know what I am saying but you know what those that are in it for that won’t stay around as long? I got into music because I wanted to create a turning point in music in a sense, bring something different you know bring about a revolution in a sense and to provoke thought.”
He states emphatically before considering his past in more depth.
“When I came up we had nothing we had shit I mean we had like some old table and we had to make it luxurious.” He laughs wryly, “I felt that on this album I had to talk about who I was and where I came from first before I could talk about my shit now. Underground Luxury is me for the first time opening up about my past and giving people a point of reference of where I started and where I am now. I think it has and will help people and my fans make sense of what I do now.”
Short excerpts of an interview/conversation with Bun B from the skits through the course of the album which provides more information for his fans regarding his past, his views and where he sits as an artist within in this crazy thing called music.
Of course it’s not all profound reflective shit and through the course of the album there are some good tracks like Ready ft Future and We Still In This Biatch ft TI and Juicy which provide the drink, juice and get crunked quota. This album (like the previous album) has a good number of collabos. Most work moderately well but I would say that the 2Chainz feature is a little disappointing and rather lifeless. Regardless however in his privileged position he details the relative ease to get the big names on the project.
“You know a lot of the features I had on there came about purely though people showing me love really? From 2 Chainz [on Headband], Future, Chris Brown; in fact” he adds with a nice anecdote “Chris actually flew in all the way from LA he was like ‘yo man I gonna be crashing on your record I am loving that joint’ so we just did it and made things simple which has worked because everywhere I go people are really liking the Throwback record I did with Chris. I think though people are going to like a track called John Doe I did with this female vocalist called Priscilla it’s my big record. Throwback is like a club record but John Doe is like this big powerful record that just explodes on you.”
With his proven ability to drop hits I ask him about his five year plan as my last question and he answers with a suitably philosophical response?
“You know I think plans just grow organically all on their own in a way. Of course planning is everything but you know you can’t mastermind everything and what I have found is that the best ideas usually come about by accident so my five year plan is simply make good music and let the rest happen as naturally as possible.”