Labeling artists as geniuses or phenoms has become all too common and, for the most part, baseless these days. True, making hits isn’t easy. But, once upon a time, being a professional musician was once considered a career as opposed to a hobby to open the door for other avenues. Already carving out his own lane before achieving national attention, Bobby Ray Simmons burst on the scene as B.o.B, an Atlanta-bred MC with a penchant for wildman-like raps with lyrical flair. But it was his alter-ego Bobby Ray who set the precendence of distinction with rockstar tendencies and songs that literally worked on alienating fans with imaginative hymns of Martians and intergalactic dealings. Merging a crowded psyche could prove to be strenuous enough, let alone the difficult to make a good first outing. But B.o.B Presents The Adventures Bobby Ray is an inclusive package of creativity, musicianship and Hip-Hop with a little something for all travelers.
Never mind any preconceived notions, expectations or intentions you had for the multi-faceted kid. Bobby Ray’s Adventures… is an intentional bunt designed to load the bases to bring in platinum runners. And without stretching the artistic grasp of his songs too thin, B.o.B manages to get rooted in nearly every outlet an urban act possibly can. Featuring blistering guest spots from inner-circle compadres T.I. and Playboy Tre, “Bet I” is sure to warm over the 106 & Park crowd just as the sprightly “Airplanes,” with its orchestrated chords and memorable chorus from Hayley Williams of Paramore, will ring through suburban students’ earbuds as they ride the wave of inspiration. And of course, having a #1 single before the album’s release in “Nothing On You” brings the parallel universe together in one accord. The track alone showcases the lilt of both the aforementioned pieces: mixing B.o.B’s studious yet catchy raps with an infectious chorus from Bruno Mars that makes the type of Pop everybody can agree on.
Star power from Eminem and Lupe Fiasco spruce things up a bit, but ultimately, it’s Bobby Ray whose DNA is cultivated throughout the album to claim ownership. If “Fame” – the enamored cut which he co-produced with Jim Jonsin – displays extreme maturity for a young man in an dangerous industry, then “Don’t Let Me Fall” and “Ghost In The Machine” are indicators that this explorer is going places he’s already been in another lifetime. Just as he boasts on the cosmic slop ride “5th Dimension” with lines like “I’m eons and eons beyond these peons/another human like me/there will never be one…” Groovy.
B.o.B does tread the line of Hip-Hop and other genres a little too precariously and, at times, flies the spaceship into overkill (namely the sugary and unnecessary “Magic”). With a talent like this though, experimentation will be met with the occasional shortcoming. When he does harness his powers to make a seamless, contained project, look out. The adventure should be monumental.