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I first heard of B.o.B by catching glimpse of his brilliant 'B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray' mixtape from 2008. B.o.B also released many others mixtapes housing some incredible music.
What was evident to me immediately was that B.o.B had the ability to mix and match genres and musical styles with complete ease, and he had an ear more melody. And, was a good lyricist.
== The Adventures of Bobby Ray ==
This album's title is an homage to Slick Rick's classic debut 'The Adventures of Slick Rick' - but that's where the comparisons end; this album sounds very little like anything else in the genre to that point actually.
B.o.B is an oddity in the hip-hop genre due to the fact he's a real 'musician' and by that I mean: he can play instruments, and his interests do not end with the pen and the rhyme. Most good rappers are just good lyricists; they are musicians in the sense that they can create and define melody to a certain extent, with rappers like Eminem especially prolific in this area, but they rarely play instruments.
Bobby Ray has a vast musical appreciation, especially at such a young age and loves music from all walks of life, with one of his favourite bands being Coldplay.
His influences are evident but not overpowering. You can certainly see hear the fusion of past rappers and current rock bands, but it still feels fresh and different.
So far then - all I seem to have done is praised B.o.B, so why then did I expect more?
Whilst this album is a solid album top to bottom, for one thing; its eclectic spirit does make the album a little uneven, with a not always cohesive balance of hard rap vs. soulful lyrics and singing.
I used the word soulful very intentionally there mind you, as that is one thing B.o.B does have. Considering his age especially (not like I'm much older, but still) - I do feel he has very self-aware lyrics and strong artistic integrity (which he hasn't entirely stuck to, but, his intent is evident); B.o.B raps from the struggles of his youth, to the depths of his mind to his present day state - but he sort of bounces off each topic line for line, without ever committing too much to theme.
My personal favourite track from this album is "Ghost in the Machine" and I think this song displays B.o.B at his genre-mashing best, and is a high-point of the set.
There isn't too many dull moments on the album but it just felt like he was going to come with more conceptual gusto. The songs here are good, but fairly simplistic for the most part; with little beneath the surface - despite the often commendable lyricism and musical structures.
Overall then: good music, great melodies and good lyrics, but a little lacking on true concepts or commitment to overall theme, and a little messy and uneven. I don't feel B.o.B came up entirely short as there's enough good material here to make this a valid debut, I just feel he could have done better.
The Adventures of Bobby Ray is the debut album of the rapper B.O.B. It was released in mid 2010 and I bought it around christmas time after hearing a few of the tracks as I liked his style of rap and the fact he can sing too made it even better.
I bought my copy of the album from Play for £7.99. It is now just £4.99 with free delivery. The album has 13 tracks which is a fair amount for the price I paid. The album artwork is really good, with B.O.B in a superhero style pose on the front and a simply laid out track list on the back.
The tracklist is as follows:
Track 1: Don't Let Me Fall
This song is great! The opening of the song is lovely and soft. I didn't even realise it was B.O.B at first who was singing - the whole song really shows off B.O.B's singing skills, and makes it clear that he's multi talented rather than just a rapper. I love the piano chords during his rap verses - it really softens the song, and the chorus is really catchy and is also very relatable. He's a brilliant rapper and the song is really diverse and I never get bored of it. 9 out of 10
Track 2: Nothin' On You
This is the first collaboration track in B.O.B's album and it features the popular singer Bruno Mars. I think it is most likely one of the more popular, well known songs on the album as it was very popular when it first came onto the radio, and was in the charts for a while, and although B.O.B's part in the song isn't really that long, he doesn't ge outstaged by Bruno's vocal talent and his rap style works well with Bruno's singing talent. I love the instrumentals and the piano in this song, and overall it is a really nice, easy to sing along to song that puts me in a good mood. I give this 10 out of 10.
Track 3: Past My Shades
This is the second collaboration track in the album, and it features the rapper Lupe Fiasco. The introduction is a bit slow for me, but the song soon gets going with B.O.B's quirky vocals. The song instrumentals are really laid back and I really love the feel of the song. The only thing I will say though is I would have liked this song a little better if it was a B.O.B solo, because Lupe's verse isn't that great in my personal opinion, but the chorus makes up for it - it's the sort of song alot of people sing to each other while drunkly dancing, well in my experience it is! Haha. 6 out of 10 just for the quirky chorus and the upbeat instrumentals.
Track 4: Airplanes
This track is the third collaboration and it features Hayley Williams who is out of the band Paramore. The song has a more serious and relatable feel to it than the other songs on the albums and the chorus is really powerful in my opinion, it represents wishing and wishing for something which hasn't/will never come true. B.O.B's verse focuses on his desire to go back to a time before he was famous with all the pressure of been an upcoming rap star, and it does make me feel for him. Hayley's voice is gorgeous and goes well with B.O.B's rapping, and suprisingly, This song was really popular when it first came out and was a bit overplayed but that hasn't put me off of it and I still regulary listen to it. 10 out of 10 for the lyrics, vocals and instrumentals.
Track 5: Bet I
The fourth collaboration of the album features T.I and Playboy Tre. I had never heard of Playboy Tre before so the album introduced me to his music and I love it! The song has a much different sound to it then the other songs on the album, it's the typical kind of hip hop/R&B that has been heavily manufactured if that makes sense - it just sounds very scripted rather than B.O.B's usual freestye type of flow. I don't personally think that the song fits his style of music. This is more of a clubbing track, and I prefer B.O.B's feel-good, meaningful tracks. Tre and T.I's verses are good, and don't get me wrong, so is B.O.B's, but his his talent doesn't come through as much on this. 4 out of 10 for the catchy chorus.
Track 6: Ghost In The Machine
This is another song which highlights B.O.B's singing talent, which is good as most rappers just rap with a deep, cocky tone of voice but B.O.B switches between the two making the album much more mixed and more interesting to listen to. The song has a nice, slow pace and lets us get to hear a few thoughts from B.O.B about his view on things. It does sound a little auto tuned, but not too much. His voice at times has a bit of a reggae sound to it. 6 out of 10.
Track 7: I'll Be In The Sky
I love the instrumentals in this song! The piano is really good but doesn't soften it too much - the beat makes you want to dance about and although it is ultimately about how everyone dies (in my opinion anyway), it's still a feel good song. B.O.B sings and raps again in this song, and his rapping is really strong in this. There is a bit of a soul feel to the song, which gives the album more of a mixed contents. The chorus is really good and easy to sing along to, I can't help but sing along and bounce about when listening to this. It also has a good video to go with it which along with the sound of the song reminds me of the band Outcast's Hey Ya video. The music to this song can be seen on youtube/tv etc. In my opinion it's one of the stronger songs on the album and is my second favourite of the album. 10 out of 10.
Track 8: The Kids
This is the fifth collaboration track and it features Janelle Monae, whos voice is amazing. The song has a clubbing feel to it and it also has a very meaningful message to it (poverty/children living in poverty). B.O.B's singing voice is lovely and strong in this, and goes well with the whole feel of the song. B.O.B raps about his past, about getting in trouble at school/in the streets (stealing etc) and how all he cared about was getting a record deal. I suppose alot of teenagers can relate to this side of the song. Janelle's singing really merges in with the song and makes B.O.B's rapping that bit more meaningful. The bassline in the song is good too and gives it the more upbeat side it has. 10 out of 10.
Track 9: Magic Rivers
Sixth collaboration. This features Rivers Cuomo, who I have never heard of before but after some brief research I have found that he is the lead singer of a band called Weezer. The song is amazing and River Cuomo's verse/chorus is amazing, his voice is so good that this song alone persuaded me to buy a Weezer CD! B.O.B's rapping is very upbeat and good to dance about to. It has a very pop rock feel to it and compared to the other tracks it is probably the most energetic. Unlike many of the other tracks B.O.B does not sing in this track. 10 out of 10 - an upbeat, fun song.
Track 10: Fame
This isn't really my favourite song on the album, but it's okay and i'll happily listen to it. It is very much a mix of jazz and hip hop in my opinion. B.O.B raps about people wanting to be famous and how desperate people are to gain fame. B.O.B sings again in this song and there is a female voice in the chorus that sings 'Fame', which along with the instrumentals gives it the upbeat jazz/mild soul feel. I am unsure of who the female in the background is but her voice is really good. 9 out of 10, it's okay but it gets a little repetitive after 2/3 minutes.
Track 11: Lovelier Than You
This is another great song which shows off the extent of Bobby's talents. It has a bit of a countryside/folk feel to it, which I love. The intro is gorgeous. The instrumental backing is a mid tempo beat and guitar, with him singing about his dreams of spending time with that special someone but how he has ruined it (that's what I took the song to mean anyway). His voice does sound a little autotuned but I can't be certain. The brief rapping is okay, but not great as it's very basic and not as good as his usual rapping style.Overall it is a sweet song with a nice tone and beat. I would of given it 10 out of 10 but because it sounds a bit autotuned it ruins it for me.
Track 13: Airplanes Part 2
This song features both Hayley Williams and Eminem. It is the same song as Airplanes part one but considerably longer than part one and also Eminem has a verse in it. Eminem does not outstage B.O.B with his lyrics or rapping TOO much, although it's very fast & furious so makes B.O.B sound a little tame! Eminem's verse sticks to the same theme in it and overall the song still has the same meaning. 10 out of 10.
Overall, this is a strong and versatile album. There is a song for every occasion and mood, and the album covers almost every genre of music. B.O.B is both a great rapper and singer and I personally would reccomend it.
"The Adventures of Bobby Ray" is the debut album of rapper B.o.B. It was released on the 27th of April. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Chart.
This album caught my eye dues to its three (so far) huge-selling singles, "Nothin on You", "Airplanes" and "Magic". The song "Nothin On You" features another flavour of the month, Bruno Mars who contributes a pleasant and catchy chorus. This song sums up a lot of the album. Although B.o.B. uses a variety of instruments on the album, it never strays far from the pop-rap side of things. "Airplanes" is on a similar if slightly darker vein, with Paramore singer "Hayley Williams" featuring a song about the pitfalls of fame, a theme which B.o.B. touches on through a lot of his songs. The final song on the album is "Airplanes Part 2", essentially the same song but with different verses and an amazing verse from guest Eminem. "Airplanes Part 2" is probably the darkest song on the album, unsurprisingly considering the appearance of the foul-mouthed Eminem. "Magic" is another collaboration, this time with Weezer singer Rivers Cuomo, who sounds slightly awkward on the chorus here. It is a light but fun pop song that you will be singing in your sleep.
So the singles are good, but what about the rest of the album? Thankfully the rest of the songs are as good, if not better as the singles. As I mentioned "Airplanes Part 2" is probably the best song on the album, but "Past My Shades", the Vampire Weekend sampling "The Kids" and "Ghost in The Machine" are more bright spots. B.o.B. can hold a note or two as well, as he demonstrates on album opener "Don't Let Me Fall" and "Lovelier than You". If I had to pick out a few weak songs it would probably be the most "rappy" (I know that's not a word) song on the album, "Bet I", featuring T.I. and Playboy Tre.
Overall, "The Adventures of Bobby ray" doesn't push the boundaries of music or define a genre, but it is a well-produced album full of catchy and bouncy songs. Any fan of pop music will find something to enjoy here in B.o.B's fun adventures.
The Decatur, Georgia singer and rapper B.o.B. put out his debut album in 2010 after numerous delays. "B.o.B. Presents - The Adventures of Bobby Ray" (originally entitled "... of B.o.B."). The record finds him finally able to show the world just how original he is as a musician likely to be simply referred to as a rapper when in fact he plays a multitude of instruments and with it comes out with tracks fully embracing Rock, Bluegrass, Doo-Wop, Funk and various other things.
1. "Don't Let Me Fall"
The album gets off to a nice start as he takes us into his world and gives us the first chance to experience the music he's about. With this opener we have him initially singing, before later going on to rap, as he's backed by a mix of Rap and Alternative Hip Hop and a Pop hook to make to a recording that's able to appeal to a wide-ranging array of people who get down with music styles that don't really come together all that well unless someone such as B.o.B. does it.
2. "Nothin' On You"
I saw this to be B.o.B.'s real breakthrough track as although he may have been able to see quite a bit of exposure with tunes such as "Haterz Everywhere" and "I'll Be In The Sky", this was the tune that got his name out there and has him approaching things in a pure Alternative Hip Hop direction that gives listeners and understanding that he's not your typical rapper and can come up with catchy Pop-edge tunes such as this one to win people over.
3. "Past My Shades"
On this tune B.o.B. (real name Bobby ray) gets a feature from Chicago's Lupe Fiasco - who's also known for not quite fitting in with the others in the Hip Hop game. This is an interesting tune and has the rapper coming to flow about how he chooses to wear shades in order to ensure that people can't be into his soul via his eyes. Its lyrics are deep and the pair of them work together well to make for a memorable recording.
To fans of Paramore, it's likely that they'll be excited by the fact that Hayley Williams of the band comes to sing on the chorus to this tune. I thought that here light vocals suited the direction of this tune quite well as we get a rather dark and ominous track from Bobby Ray for this one and it takes you in from the start to ensure that you hear all that it brings.
5. "Bet I"
I saw this as a killer track and a tune which takes thing in a very different direction as for this one he decides to appeal directly to the pure grungy Dirty South Hip Hop sound and the sort of thing heard from this time. It sounds as if it takes on the kind of style heard on Big Boi (of OutKast)'s recent solo work and the features by both T.I. and Playboy Tre are likely to be received well by listeners on this tune.
6. "Ghost In The Machine"
On this track you get a recording solely produced by B.o.B. himself. I thought that it was nice to see what he's able to do by himself 9without the aid of outside producers) and it seems that alone, he's just as capable of coming out with the hits. This is a cold recording and one that has him singing about times when he feels as though he's just a ghost and could very easily lose himself when others simply don't care. It wasn't really my thing, but others could take a little something from it.
7. "The Kids"
B.o.B's genre-juggling persists through this one as he manages to show how he tires of things sounding similar in any way whatsoever. This is a nice one and a tune that gets him trying out more straight-forward rapping on the verses so that his ideas can be heard easily through a simplistic structure, however you get a Soft Rock backing to set it apart from other thing and I felt that it did its job at showing more of what he can do.
Weezer's frontman, River Cuomo, comes to provide the vocals for the hook on this one and I thought that it was nice to see more experimentation from him by bringing in such a musician to work alongside him. From there, B.o.B. excites with the fresh rhyming that he flows out and it makes for a nice and bright tune to show that not all Rap is dark and directed towards violence.
I was impressed by what's given on this one. For this track we're offered a track that I felt sounded as though it was just one of a couple on the album which could have been put out and would have sounded like any other Hip Hop track of this time. I thought that such a tunes had to brought in here and it seems to take the edge off the very risky experiments elsewhere and shows that he's just as capable as straight-forward ones.
10. "Lovelier Than You"
This is a nice and bright recording from him where you have him deciding to do all the production himself. I felt that the tune really came together well as in it we're given another Soft Rock track from him and one that really contrasts from the sort of thing we were exposure to just before this one. It's a love song which forces you to smile and ensures that you'll be satisfied by the uplifting nature of the way he sings it and later raps a verse.
11. "5th Dimension"
Lil' C gets up on the beats and comes to bring out a fly tune that gets you in a freaky mood. We're offered some spacey production from this tune and I thought that it was nice to see how it take your body over from the very start and gets you grooving along to the material in a manner that you won't have expected to have been before the rapper blasts out some bumping rhymes that take you over with their regularity in structure.
12. "Airplanes" (Part 2)
The album comes to a close with the second part to a track heard from earlier-on from the album. This time around, we're given a surprise feature by Eminem, a rapper who this 21-year-old rapper idolised as he grew up. I thought that it was nice to get a little something from little something from Em' as he shows support for the up-and-comer with this final track on the Grand Hustle signee's debut record.
I thought that this was a great album from B.o.B. (AKA Bobby Ray) and a Alternative album using a range of style which a broad range of listeners are able to get down with. I found the odd tune a little plain at first and so some do take a few listens to get into, however it's generally quite strong and shows good stuff overall from him.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Don’t Let Me Fall
2 Nothing On You (featuring Bruno Mars)
3 Past My Shades (featuring Lupe Fiasco)
4 Airplanes (featuring Hayley Williams)
5 Bet I (featuring T.I. & Playboy Tre)
6 Ghost In The Machine
7 I’ll Be In The Sky
8 The Kids (featuring Janelle Monae)
9 Magic (featuring Rivers Cuomo)
11 Lovelier Than You
12 5th Dimension (featuring Ricco Barrino)
13 Airplanes (featuring Eminem & Hayley Williams)