I know it’s hard for rappers to wait when they see a fleet of Bentleys glistening on the horizon, but trust me, in hip-hop patience is a virtue. When a rapper is catapulted to fame overnight, without taking the time to truly lay down a foundation, nine-times-out-of-ten they watch that success evaporate faster than Tiger Wood’s marriage (paging Dr. Mims/J-Kwon/etc.). So while I’m sure that B.o.B. truly hoped his debut album The Adventures of Bobby Ray would have dropped in 2008, as he told DJ Z way back when, in retrospect the delay was a …
DJBooth Album Review
After more than two years, at least one dope mixtape and a steadily building downpour of hype now threatening to overflow the levees, B.o.B. is finally ready to flood the game with the sonic torrent that is Adventures. After this many years on the grind Adventures is a “debut” album mostly in name – like when Chris Weinke debuted as Florida State’s QB as a 26 year-old “sophomore” – but no matter what your definition, Adventures is well worth the wait. Don’t worry, I’m going to go deep inside this album, but let me start off by breaking things down for all the slow folks out there: Adventures…of..Bobby Ray…is the…motherfu**king…s**t.
Ready to have your mind blown? Too bad, cause it’s coming anyway. B.o.B.’s breakthrough #1 hit, Nothin on You, was originally written with Lupe Fiasco in mind. Lupe passed, B.o.B. pounced and the rest is history. (I’ll let you ruminate on the divine workings of fate for a moment.) Nothin’ On You has been the smash it is because of B.o.B.’s Avatar-like ability to live simultaneously in different musical worlds. Nothin’ has the hook of a pop-song, the background of a rock song and the verses of a rap song. What’s more, B.o.B. manages to win over the ladies (a must) without coming off as a d-bag and losing the respect of guys; no easy feat. That ability to erase borders is on full display throughout the album, most notably on the gripping Airplanes, a track that finds B.o.B. topping off emotionally honest rhymes with a chorus from Hayley Williams of rock group phenomenon Paramore. Perhaps more surprising is the quickly stuttering Magic, which brings on Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo for a track that would feel at home on both Power 106 and KROQ (for all you non-L.A. folks those are huge hip-hop and rock radio stations, respectively). Most importantly, these cross-genre blends never feel forced. Unlike The Rebrirth, which Weezy essentially spent screaming “hey, look at me, I’m a rapper doing hard rock,” on Adventures B.o.B. pushes boundaries on tracks like Don’t Let Me Fall easily, naturally, effortlessly. Take notes, this is how it’s done.
For all his sonic wanderings, B.o.B.’s homeland is and always will be hip-hop nation, and he makes sure to spend plenty of time at home on Adventures, starting with Bet I Bust. The album’s most overtly rap-centric cut, Bet I Bust is proof that if provoked Bobby can kills mics (and blunts) with the best of them, including track mates T.I. and Playboy Tre. While his flows are often compared to Andre 3K, it’d be more accurate to compare his metaphor laced lyrics and high-caliber rhyme style to Big Boi. Still, whatever his influences, in the end Bobby always remains his own man, much like the aforementioned Fiasco, who joins him on the smoky and defiantly bouncing Past These Shades, and the destructively unique Eminem, who delivers an uppercut to B.o.B.’s jab on the devastating Airplanes (Pt. 2). For the record, that’s T.I., Lupe and Eminem that B.o.B. holds his own next too. Respect.
Let’s finish this review by focusing on who B.o.B. is, not who he sounds like. Just take Fame, a track that’s my favorite on the album not only because Jim Jonsin crafts a beat that’s sticks in your head like a shotgun shell to the dome but because Bobby dodges and weaves in and out of the big band production like Sugar Ray Robinson in his prime. The same could be said of the dancehall-tinged The Kids and the starkly done Ghost in the Machine, both tracks that could only have come from the mind of one man, and that man’s name is B.o.B…or Bobby Ray. Regardless, it’s the music that matters, not the moniker, and if The Adventures of Bobby Ray is any indication, the music is some of the most exciting work we’ve heard in a minute. The wait is finally over. B.o.B. has arrived.
Listen to More: B.o.B Written by Nathan S.
Rebel Rock/Grand Hustle/Atlantic
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Haterz Everywhere We Go (Remix)" (2007)
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