Presenting hip-hop’s latest smart-arse: Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, AKA B.o.B, is a rapper-singer-songwriter. He’s also a producer. And a multi-instrumentalist. The 21-year-old has been lurking on stage for a couple of years, making media ‘best of’ lists for being a young up-and-comer and for releasing a corking debut single, the semi-official release I’ll Be in the Sky.
Since then, North Carolina-born Bobby has collected a few celebrity chums by the looks of things. On this, his first album, he’s joined by – among others – rap superstars Lupe Fiasco and Eminem, Weezer main man Rivers Como, Hayley Williams of US pop-rockers Paramore and vocalist-producer Bruno Mars, who guest stars on the smash hit Nothin’ on You.
It’s a banging tune, and one that’s typical of the other 12 tracks on B.o.B Presents. The album (which dropped in the US to a rowdy applause of sales) has clear hip-hop credentials – with the emphasis on hip – but there’s also a pop sensibility that’s obvious not only in the choice of collaborators, but also in the compositions and the use/pastiches of Vampire Weekend’s The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance and David Bowie’s Fame.
Down ‘n’ Dirty
It’s a remarkably assured, feel-good performance in the main, with hooks aplenty in the likes of Magic, Past My Shades and Airplanes, as well as some down ‘n’ dirty MCing on Fame and Bet I. Ghost in the Machine and the opener, Don’t Let Me Fall, provide soulful, hands-in-the-air moments.
There are, arguably, three tunes too many (the reprise of Airplanes seems to be for no reason other than to include a certain Marshall Bruce Mathers III), but that’s a small criticism when the whole thing comes in at a little over 50 minutes. That’s short for a lot of hip-hop albums – and this one doesn’t include any of those bloody awful skits that rappers love so much.