The Adventures of Bobby Ray, B.O.B.’s debut album is a B.O.X. of surprises that tread a mishmash of styles such as indie, guitar-driven rock, power-pop, and alternative held in place by B.O.B.’s solid hip-hop aesthetics.
Perhaps mishmash isn’t the right word because mishmash connotes something random akin to an alchemist mixing (mishmash-ing?) a concoction made of ingredients he got within arm’s length.
B.O.B. does mix a variety of ingredients taken from different musical genres, but he does so with a skill that has evaded many musicians who’ve ever tried the art of musical fusion.
The end result is gold; The Adventures of Bobby Ray is fresh, and a worthwhile listen for any and all who appreciates a colorful and well-planned romp through hip-hop to pop and back.
On the other hand, the album is, quite possibly, hell for purists who rabidly tear away at anything that mixes rhymes with riffs.
Most of you must have already probably heard of B.O.B’s hit singles, “Nothin’ on You,” and “Airplanes.” The former is simply a tasty, catchy pop tune that would have ended up on mix tapes everywhere gifted by guys to girls, only if that were still in fashion.
The latter would have been just another RnB track where the guy raps in the verses, and a female singer sings a cute little tune during the chorus—only in this case, that female singer is Paramore’s Hayley Williams, who gives the track an unsurprisingly emo feel which matches the track’s contemplative piano melodies.
B.O.B. does have a more standard RnB track with the song “The Kids,” which features Janelle Monae. Describing B.O.B as “standard” though doesn’t feel apt, because even in this track, B.O.B.’s genre-stretching sensibilities permeate, with his use of a sample from indie band Vampire Weekend.
Another stand-out track is B.O.B’s collaboration with Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, “Magic.” B.O.B’s hip-hop dynamics meets Rivers’ powerpop guitar riffs, and the result is nothing short of ear-pleasing and energizing.
Less “power” and more mellow is the track “Lovelier Than You,” where the main instruments used are an acoustic guitar, and a set of percussions perfect for reggae music. It’s lovely, but never too cheesy that you’ll be embarrassed to listen to it.
B.O.B proves too that he can rap with the best of them in what is probably the purest rap song in the album, “Bet I,” featuring T.I. and Playboy Tre. In the song, he goes “Put me on anything, still I bet I bust. Put me anywhere on the map I bet I bust.”
And what he says is not far from the truth: B.O.B. hops across a smattering of genres in The Adventures of Bobby Ray, and rarely does he slip to fall into a pit. Indeed, it’s been a good year for hip-hop, with Eminem’s Recovery, our very own Fliptop, and now, this album from B.O.B.
WORDS BY: GELO GONZALES