Album Reviews

Album Review: B.o.B – The Adventures of Bobby Ray

B.o.B. presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray

Ever since his hugely disappointing Universal Mind Control, I have been looking for the worthy successor to Common. Go and Be were among the best hip-hop/rap crossover albums of the 00s, and Like Water for Chocolate and One Day It’ll All Make Sense are wonderful straight-up hip-hop albums in their own sense. However, these days, the man born Lonnie Lynn Jr. seems more concerned with focusing on his acting career than making music.

Someone had to fill the void left by Common’s absence. There had to be an artist who could be played at parties who would not divide the room. Someone who could fit in with the people who only listen to chart music and Now compilations, and people who hadn’t listened to anything new since Kurt Cobain died. B.o.B’s The Adventures of Bobby Ray is 2010′s first notable attempt at bridging the gap between credible and cool.

This album was release two months ago, but it’s only now I’m coming around to it, after hearing the fantastic single ‘Nothin on You’ featuring Bruno Mars. It’s got an infectious chorus as well as a Kanye-esque backing vocal. Until Mister West himself comes out with Good Ass Job, this is the best hip-pop song of the year (see, I can coin ridiculous phrases too).

There’s much to dance to on the debut album from Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. Current single ‘Airplane’ features Hayley Williams from Paramore, and is a standout – with one of the most memorable refrains of the year. I dare you not to sing it everywhere. Most of the guests here add something to the songs, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer is impressive on ‘Magic’, Lupe Fiasco makes ‘Past My Shades’ his own, and T.I. is fantastic on ‘Bet I’.

The album is far from flawless. Sometimes the guests overshadow B.o.B’s own input, and a lot of the album sounds samey. It’s a very polished album, produced down to the last. Thus none of the songs have a raw feel, and maybe the album could have done with some skits or interludes. Even the re-imagined Vampire Weekend ‘The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance’ just sounds like a poor pastiche. More songs like ‘Bet I’, or the guest-free ‘Ghost in the Machine’ would’ve made this a better album, but what we have strays too far to the side of pop.

Perhaps next time out, for the follow-up, Bobby Ray should take a look at Kanye, at Common’s earlier material, and at Rhymefest’s debut to see what is really needed to be an out-and-out crossover success. The Adventures of Bobby Ray is a respectable attempt, with a couple of amazing tracks, but overall, it feels like a missed opportunity.

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