April 29, 2010

Test Spin: B.o.B.

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Since coming onto the scene five years ago, Bobby Ray Simmons, better know as B.o.B, has been signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records, named one of hip-hop’s hottest freshmen by XXL Magazine and released a widely successful mixtape, entitled Who the Fuck is B.o.B? On his much delayed debut, The Adventures of Bobby Ray, B.o.B begins to answer that incredibly complicated question, crisscrossing genres, trying his hand at pop, R&B and, of course, hip-hop.The album begins with a dramatic R&B number entitled “Don’t Let Me Fall,” about losing the public’s favor. The song is followed by his current #1 smash, “Nothin’ On You,” which features fellow newcomer Bruno Mars on the hook. Bruno is one of nine guest stars featured on the album, a seemingly excessive number that ends up working. “Past My Shades,” with Lupe Fiasco, is one of album’s true standouts with its live instrumentation, while “Bet I,” with T.I. and Playboy Tre, is the album’s most urban offering. A cover of Vampire Weekend’s “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance,” retitled as “The Kids,” is enhanced by an appearance from Janelle Monae and “5th Dimension” benefits from the added soul of Ricco Barrino.The three remaining guests are spread over three tracks with mixed results. “Airplanes,” co-written by two of Cornell’s own, boasts a chorus from Hayley Williams of Paramore and a thumping baseline. However, Alex da Kid and DJ Frank E’s production becomes muddled on “Airplanes Part II” and is saved only by Eminem’s verse. Then there’s the album’s one true misfire, “Magic.” Produced by Dr. Luke and featuring Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, “Magic” feels entirely manufactured.The remaining three songs have B.o.B going it alone. “Lovelier Than You” plays like a sequel to “Nothin’ on You,” and will probably have girls swooning. “Fame” is soulful rumination on the desire to be famous, while “Ghost in the Machine” tackles the issue of loneliness. Together, all of these tracks craft an intricate album that defies convention in the best way possible.


Original Author: Wesley Ambrecht