Album Remarks & Appraisals:
2010 debut album from the teen Rap sensation. Known primarily for his heavy smokers anthem, 'Cloud 9,' and the frenetic energy of his song 'Haterz Everywhere', B.o.B scored a record deal with Atlantic Records while he was still in high school. Now, Rap phenomenon is ready to bring his genre-bending style nationwide with his highly anticipated debut, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray.
"While it's not uncommon for albums to move back in the release schedules, to guarantee either coverage in a quiet week or a critical blackout, it is rare for a long-player to be pushed forward (leaks aside). But The Adventures of Bobby Ray is such a record, a collection that arrived sooner than expected in the US to take advantage of the success of number one single Nothin' on You. The result: a number one album, too.
So far, so what: such an achievement Over There is the equal of Diana Vickers' recent performances Over Here. But while B.o.B's radio-dominating single Nothin' on You is sweet, summertime RnB, its chorus delivered by the silken tones of Hawaii-born guest Bruno Mars, much of this impressive set showcases a deep appreciation of one of hip hop's four elements, MCing. B.o.B, aka North Carolina native Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, is a lyricist with a loquacious flow so liquid-like that he warrants optimistic parallels to Outkast and Black Star duo Mos Def and Talib Kweli. He'll get better with age - he's only 21 - so don't be surprised if B.o.B ascends to a comparably lofty level of acclaim, assuming he better balances superb MCing with his less-appealing croon in the future.
That our central performer, abetted by a slew of lyrical contributors, never adopts the persona of a boastful MC is hugely appealing. More often than not his heart is on show, and he speaks openly of true love over resorting to the relative chart-rap staple of spouting misogyny. Airplanes is one such number, our protagonist asking the object of his affections just to wait a little longer for his arrival. It features Hayley Williams of Paramore, one of a pair of rockers on board. But while Williams' efforts complement the sombre tone of Airplanes, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo's turn on Magic is anything but. And the less said about Eminem's self-referencing verse on an album-closing reprise of Airplanes, the better.
But Eminem's presence, as well as that of Lupe Fiasco, is an indication of the already high standing of B.o.B. This is a musician with creativity on tap and enough of it to burn through a little filler here while ensuring the prime cuts emerge perfectly. And when the similarly hyped Janelle Monáe joins him on The Kids, the listener is evidently in the company of two of 2010's most significant breakout artists." - BBC
""Back then I was rapping for the hell of it/ Right now I'm rapping to stay relevant." So says B.o.B on Aeroplanes, outlining precisely the problem with his debut album. A protege of T.I. and beneficiary of internet hype thanks to a series of smart, humorous mixtapes, Bobby Ray Simmons Jr now finds himself fronting a ruthless conspiracy to seize the wallets of teenage America. But all the Chris Martinesque piano lines and calibrated guest appearances - from Weezer's River Cuomo to Janelle Monáe - can't obscure an absence of soul throughout. For someone who raps so often about his days as an up-and-comer, there's a distinct lack of passion, too; this is all put into striking relief on the album's final verse, an incendiary performance from Eminem." - Guardian
B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray is the debut studio album of American rapper B.o.B, released April 27, 2010, on Grand Hustle Records, Rebel Rock Entertainment and Atlantic Records. Production for the album took place during 2008 to 2010 and was handled by B.o.B, Crada, Dr. Luke, The Smeezingtons, Jim Jonsin Lil' C, Alex da Kid, Polow da Don, and DJ Frank E.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 84,000 copies in its first week. It attained some international charting and produced three singles that achieved chart success, including Billboard hit "Magic" and international hits "Nothin' on You" and "Airplanes. " Upon its release, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray received generally positive reviews from most music critics.
Entertainment Weekly (p.75) - "[H]e covers Vampire Weekend, collaborates with the singers from Weezer and Paramore, and plays arena-ready guitar." -- Grade: B
Billboard (p.28) - "Weaving together hip-hop, rock influences and futuristic sounds, Atlanta newcomer B.o.B. addresses beautiful girls, ambition and all things sci-fi on his vibrant guest-heavy debut album..."
Recording information: Conway Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Echo Studios, Atlanta, GA; Effigy Studios; Ham Squad Studios, Atlanta, GA; Levcon Studios, Hollywood, CA; Paramount Studios, Hollywood, CA; Patchwerk Studios, Atlanta, GA; Tree Sound, Atlanta, GA.
When asked about his collaboration with pop-punk vocalist Hayley Williams, Atlanta-based alternative hip-hop artist B.o.B responded "Paramore is the sh*t," instantly driving away the hip-hop purists. He went on to declare that the audience for Williams' band was the same audience for Lupe Fiasco, Common, and himself. That's the rapper/producer/songwriter's attitude in a nutshell, and it's also the genre-free, music-loving, and even starry-eyed attitude of his debut album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray, a reference to the B.o.B's real name, Bobby Ray Simmons. "Airplanes" is the Coldplay-sized, emo-rap track with Williams that brings reminders of the Dido/Eminem collaboration "Stan," at least when it comes to rock-solid hooks, since the sentiment here is much more hopeful. The uncrushable B.o.B is always filled with positive vibes and he isn't above pouring on the sweetness as he courts the ladies with hitmaker for hire Bruno Mars on "Nothin' on You," a song that's perfectly packaged for some Hollywood romantic comedy. Add to that "Lovelier Than You," where B.o.B sounds like Wyclef when he plays it sparse, and you've got the poptacular moments, but the street tracks and backpacker material works just as well, with the T.I. feature "Bet I" being Hotlanta at its hottest while "Don't Let Me Fall" is the "where I'm from" track at its best. The chart-friendly side of indie rock shows its influence in the Vampire Weekend-sampling "The Kids" with Janelle Monáe plus the retro-electro "Magic" with Rivers Cuomo, which becomes B.o.B's theme song once he drops "I break all the rules like Evil Knievel/I put on a spectacular show because my heart pumps diesel." Even if B.o.B had a couple years of mixtape training before releasing his debut, the most startling thing is how effortless he makes all this genre-juggling seem, especially on repeat listens as the album evolves from a high-caliber collection of singles to a unified body of work. There's little evidence here that this would even be possible without the work of André 3000, Kanye, and Drake, and B.o.B definitely loves new ideas more than he generates them. Still, he's an amazing ringmaster for the age of mash-ups and wonky pop, and for his debut album he's equally thrilling as the main attraction. ~ David Jeffries