As tracks from this album, due to be released April 27th, have leaked, the expectations for this debut offering from Bobby Ray Simmons have soared. The twenty-one year old is supported on this album by rap heavyweights Eminem, Lupe Fiasco and T.I., which will no doubt increase sales, but also highlight the recognised talents of the American rapper. In fact, to call him a rapper is doing him an injustice. The guy has music running through his veins and this album allows him to demonstrate his singer-songwriter capabilities, his producing skills and his adeptness at playing a multitude of instruments.
Don’t Let Me Fall, the album’s first track, is a perfect introduction of B.o.B, showcasing his rainbow of skills with a melodic hook supported by some impressive lyrical delivery. The general laidback feel for this album is evident in tracks like Nothin’ On You and Past My Shades, which expertly mixes a superb baseline with chunky guitars, but B.o.B. is obviously keen for variation in his productions. Nothing demonstrates this better than the collaboration with Eminem and Hayley Williams on Airplanes, Part II, which for me is the standout track of the album, with Eminem’s infectious vocals the icing on the cake. The musical variation goes hand-in-hand with the assorted content covered as B.o.B keeps things fresh tackling his own rise whilst not oozing of self-pomp and effortlessly switching from the meaningful (Ghost In The Machine) to the fun-loving (Magic).
This is a superb first offering and should see B.o.B step away from the likes of Wale, Asher Roth and maybe even Kid Cudi as the youngsters look to leave their footprint in the American rap scene. Simmons’ advantage is the sheer amount of strings he has to his musical bow. He can sing, rap, produce and play and I imagine could put on one hell of a live show. His rising popularity after this album hits the shops will no doubt give him plenty of opportunities to prove me right.
01. Don’t Let Me Fall (04.35)*
02. Nothin’ on You feat. Bruno Mars (04.30)
03. Past My Shades feat. Lupe Fiasco (03.34)
04. Airplanes feat. Hayley Williams (03.01)
05. Bet I feat. T.I. and Playboy Tre (04.18)
06. Ghost in the Machine (04.53)*
07. The Kids feat. Janelle Monae (03.27)
08. Magic feat. Rivers Cuomo (03.16)*
09. Fame (04.42)
10. Lovelier Than You (04.05)
11. 5th Dimension feat. Ricco Barrino (03.24)
12. Airplanes, Part II feat. Hayley Williams and Eminem (05.19)*
B.o.B – Ghost in the Machine
B.o.B – Magic feat. Rivers Cuomo