B.o.B: The Adventures Of Bobby Ray (Album Review)

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Fan favorite “Cloud 9” and even his original first single “I’ll Be In The Sky” would prove prophetic as with every mixtape and song released, the consensus backed and determined that Bobby Ray Simmons was destined to reside among the bright lights of superstardom.  With his eclectic music tastes, delving into hip hop, rock and even techno, critics began to champion the musician known as B.o.B as the heir to his fellow Atlanta brethren’s throne, OutKast (a fellow music critic refers to him as the aptly titled “Andre 1500”).  After constant delays and being thrust into the public eye with his #1 single “Nothin’ On You”, B.o.B teams up with his alter-ego Bobby Ray to officially introduce himself to the masses via his studio debut.

“Don’t Let Me Fall” initiates B.o.B’s journey and is a testament of what the album itself will consist of: half crooning, half rhyming over beats not so hip hop-savvy.  After all, though Bobby Ray is classified as a rapper, he is an artist first and foremost and his debut is concrete proof of his refusal to conform.  Most will easily recognize his sincere (and instant classic) first single “Nothin’ On You” as he seeks to reassure the insecurity of the female gender with his trademark charm and wit while Bruno Mars belts out the popular hook in support.

The highly anticipated collaboration between Lupe Fiasco and Bobby Ray results in “Past My Shades”, a lukewarm score hindered by a repetitive hook and featuring only a braggadocio verse from each respective artist.  Many would imagine a track boasting the creative genius of both Janelle Monae and B.o.B would be nothing short of amazing yet the pair phone it home on the uninspiring “The Kids” while Bobby Ray’s crooning on “Lovelier Than You” slows his momentum and hinders the album itself.

Bobby Ray’s musical capabilities glow brightest on the Hayley Williams-assisted “Airplanes”, which has already begun its ascension up the Billboard charts as another potential #1 hit while Eminem provides an introspective tour de force on the sequel, pressing it into “Song of The Year” contention.  Even label boss T.I. stops by, fresh off his prison release, to show he has yet to lose a step on the Atlanta-based anthem “Bet I” as Bobby Ray tries his own spin at “something for the hood”.  B.o.B receives support from Weezer’s Rivers Cumo on “Magic” as the twosome embrace their ability to step outside the box and still make great records, another song that will likely serve as a monster hit while “Fame” sees the resident ATLien touches on the fallacies of fame in the entertainment industry from being labeled role models to the paparazzi.

Adventures will be well-received by consumers that possess an open mind (or ear?) in the case of music, but those looking for pure hip hop will likely skip the B.o.B express.  While the length is definitely questionable at best with only twelve cuts, sometimes less is more and while it left him with little room for error, B.o.B shows he is definitely up to the challenge.  The vast majority of emcees have begun the transformation into strategists when it comes to their artistry, overlooking the bottom line: just making great music.  Had B.o.B subbed some of his bonus tracks in place of album cuts (“Lovelier Than You” comes to mind), he may potentially have been looking at an “Album of the Year” candidate.  In conclusion, Bobby Ray delivers a fresh, unique offering in The Adventures Of Bobby Ray and proves that he can go against the grain of emo-rap that is slowly enveloping the music industry and still reside among shooting stars.

4 (out of 5 mics)

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