Can you call your life an adventure? Sure, you’ve been to amusement parks and seen movies with the word “adventure” in it. But can you truly call your life an adventure? 21-year old Rebel Rock/Grand Hustle/Atlantic artist/producer B.o.B can, and if you’ve watched closely enough, you’d know exactly why the multi-talented lyricist and musician is naming his debut album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray. Growing up east of Atlanta, Georgia in Decatur, the artist born Bobby Ray Simmons was exposed to the best of both worlds, taking daily bus trips from the ‘burbs to the ‘hood, ...
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Can you call your life an adventure? Sure, you’ve been to amusement parks and seen movies with the word “adventure” in it. But can you truly call your life an adventure?
21-year old Rebel Rock/Grand Hustle/Atlantic artist/producer B.o.B can, and if you’ve watched closely enough, you’d know exactly why the multi-talented lyricist and musician is naming his debut album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray.
Growing up east of Atlanta, Georgia in Decatur, the artist born Bobby Ray Simmons was exposed to the best of both worlds, taking daily bus trips from the ‘burbs to the ‘hood, splitting his school years between attending affluent magnet schools and the “urban” Columbia High School (also the alma mater of comedic actor/philanthropist Chris Tucker). These early adventures to environments that he never really fit into forced B.o.B to create his own world as an adolescent. A world where his ears acted as antennas snatching any and every bit of information, hoping that all of it would make sense one day. Like most kids his age, growing up in the MTV generation, things didn’t start to become clear until music got involved.
“Rap wasn’t my first exposure to music, but it definitely had the first impact on me,” says B.o.B, mentioning the first rap CD he could call his own was DMX’s 1998 album Its Dark and Hell Is Hot. “I was watching DMX, 2Pac, Biggie and then Eminem. Growing up, you see them breaking rules and you want to do that. That’s what made me turn from a fan to duplicate it and try and make my own.”
B.o.B’s career was practically spawned from breaking the rules. Teetering on the fine line between bored and bad while in high school, B.o.B wasn’t exactly a star student. It wasn’t until family friend and show promoter Brian “B-Rich” Richardson intervened, giving B.o.B a challenge; if he started doing better in school, he’d allow him to record music at his home studio.
After weeks of experimenting and even going through a tumultuous stint as a member of a rap group called Da Clinic, B.o.B grew frustrated and almost quit music to start working at the mall. B-Rich, who now took on the role of manager, convinced B.o.B to stay at it and that he’d have him signed to a record deal within six months.
The first step on the journey came when B.o.B was just 17-years old, as the underage rapper performed at a showcase inside T.I.’s Club Crucial nightclub in spring 2006. His relaxing, self-produced track “Cloud 9” caught the ear of record industry dot connector TJ Chapman. That summer, while his friends were working at the same mall he almost quit music for, B.o.B was in New York signing his first record deal with producer Jim Jonsin’s (T.I.’s “Whatever You Like,” Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop”) Rebel Rock imprint.
In true ATLien fashion, B.o.B’s debut single “Haterz Everywhere” hit the music world like a comet in 2007, immediately making him a face and name to remember. His string of mixtapes, Cloud 9, The Future and Hi! My Name Is B.o.B built from that momentum and made him even more prolific, landing him on coveted magazine cover, being featured on a Times Square billboard for L-R-G’s Spring 2008 campaign.
Adding fuel to the flames, B.o.B’s career saw another plus when he signed to Hip Hop powerhouse Grand Hustle that same year. Grand Hustle was actually the first label to show interest in signing B.o.B early on, so the move was actually fateful.
But just when the world thought his star could shine no brighter, B.o.B came to a fork in the road on his adventure and found that he had more to offer. In early 2009 B.o.B introduced the world to his other side, Bobby Ray. His recreation wowed audiences at the highly popular South By Southwest music festival and showed fans that he was more than just “a beast from Decatur.” Now showcasing his guitar, drum and piano playing skills, B.o.B released his acclaimed mixtape B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray and redefined what it meant to be a balanced, universal artist.
After proving that he makes music that resonates all over the globe and even on top of it (B.o.B sung the hook to former arch rivals T.I. and Ludacris’ hit “On Top of the World”), B.o.B has drawn comparisons to Andre 3000 of Outkast. But the journey that B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray takes the listener on will have you mentioning him in the same breaths as other Bob’s like Dylan and Marley.
The album’s intro, “Don’t Let Me Fall” features the multi-instrumentalist playing every sound on the mood-switching track. He then displays his lyrical dexterity via songs like “Bet I” featuring T.I. and long time collaborator Playboy Tre.
From there B.o.B’s Adventures takes you to where and who he is now, as Bobby Ray. On “Ghost In The Machine” Bobby Ray “grabs his bags” and seeks out life’s secrets while “Airplanes” featuring Hayley Williams (of Paramore) has him imagining the “what if’s” he’s found along the way.
B.o.B also serves up doses of reality on “The Kids” featuring Janelle Monae where he raps “always in detention for lack of attention/you can call it deficit, but I just didn’t listen,” making himself the voice of a generation that feels let down by the education system.
With “Magic” Bobby Ray offers a garage band sound that’s easily comparable to Blink 182 and Sum 41, the words to the lead single “Nothin’ On You” featuring Bruno Mars may very well become screenshots if you listen with your eyes closed.
While the album also includes rare cameo appearances from the likes of Eminem (“Airplanes (Part II)”), Lupe Fiasco (“Past My Shades”), B.o.B is in no way overshadowed as he produced a majority of B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray himself.
B.o.B has more than succeeded in presenting his life as a roller-coaster journey. For you, the listener, who may still be seeing some adventure in your life? Let this serve as the soundtrack.