When B.O.B’s debut album descended on the Billboard Hot 100, it signposted the arrival of a brand new crossover famous person. Just one yr on from turning into an XXL Freshman, B.O.B Presents: The Adventures Of Bobby Ray achieved a feat that not even his 2009 classmate Kid Cudi has equaled: immediately securing the highest spot. Catapulted to primary because of radio pleasant hook-ups with Bruno Mars and Paramore’s Hayley Williams, the success of his sprightly pop-rap was a far-cry from the developmental turmoil that prompted 2DopeBoyz’ Shake to construct his own B.O.B debut again within the days of his web buzz.
Perched on the prime of the world, the Atlanta rapper appeared predestined to grow to be an integral a part of hip-hop’s business foreground by the point he netted 5 Grammy nominations in 2010. Yet like these nominations by no means translated into wins, the upward trajectory step by step slipped by his fingertips, remodeling him into an fascinating anomaly reasonably than the globe-trotting pressure that he was groomed to grow to be. Released as the primary single from his debut LP, the feedback on the video for “Don’t Let Me Fall” has altered its supposed function as an empowering anthem right into a grimly prophetic observe that foretold his plummet from the mainstream.
How did a person that had allegedly been “passed the torch” by Andre 3000 on 2012 “Play The Guitar” secede from the forefront of hip-hop? Based upon all of the proof that’s earlier than us, it may possibly primarily be attributed to an id disaster that was waged between inventive and business pursuits. Prior to the discharge of his Three Stacks collab, B.O.B was the image of optimism so far as his profession path went. Primed to be one of many “lead singles” from his new album, the Decatur native noticed his sophomore effort Strange Clouds as a massive step-up:
“I don’t actually like hyping issues up past perception and all that shit, however the album is unquestionably progressed tremendously. I sacrificed – I ain’t sleep, lacking household occasions, every little thing. Just principally dwelling within the studio, so this subsequent mission, I’m actually enthusiastic about it.”
Where his debut album attained first week gross sales of 84,000, its 2012 follow-up fell wanting its lofty success by peaking at quantity 5 and shifting 76,000 models upon launch. Although many artists would clamour for these bodily figures right this moment, they’ve a far higher significance in B.O.B’s profession as they mark the start of a downturn that he’s by no means been in a position to shake off. In truth, the tip of May 2012 marks his final look on the Billboard Hot 100, courtesy of Taylor Swift team-up “Both Of Us,” earlier than he’d fade from the pop-realm as soon as and for all. Just a yr on from Strange Clouds and two lowkey mixtapes, B.O.B supplied his subsequent main launch on Atlantic with Underground Luxury. While its title appeared oxymoronic, B.O.B clarified his intentions with one other confident statement. “This is connecting the dots, from who I used to be as an artist earlier than the most important success to the place I’m at now,” he defined. “And it’s much more unfiltered and unedited than something I’ve ever completed.”
During the mission’s promotional circuit, a go to to Hot 97 resulted in a hotly contested debate with Ebro round whether or not or not his profession had reached its apex. In his rebuttal, B.O.B not solely claimed that hip-hop had “tunnel imaginative and prescient” by not taking his abroad influence into consideration however believed he was set to artistically course-correct. “It’s like a reintroduction,” he acknowledged. “For the individuals who caught wind of me from “Airplanes” and “Nothin’ On You”, that’s how they know me. So, it’s like nah you gotta know the entire image.”
For all that he’s by no means shied away from collaboration with top-tier business artists starting from Eminem, his mentor T.I, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown and 2Chainz, all of his publish debut-album rhetoric highlighted an unease with the confines of being a chart-topping artist. Even within the lyrics of “Airplanes” itself, Bobby Ray appeared reticent about buying and selling ardour for profitability and pined for the times when “he was rappin’ for the hell of it, however these days we rappin’ to remain related.” Aside from his appreciable pedigree as a lyricist, B.O.B is a gifted multi-instrumentalist and has been waging a warfare to be beholden to No Genre for a few years. Expressed by mixtapes such because the funk-laden Psycadelik Thoughtz, a pivotal consider why he’d by no means attain the heights of his debut is because of his imaginative and prescient flying within the face of his label. Although he expressed his gratitude to T.I’s Grand Hustle imprint for his or her continued assist, he blasted its mothership of Atlantic Records on Twitter for “suppressing” him, claiming that “they boycott me, they’re afraid I’ll get an excessive amount of publicity.”
In the years which have elapsed since his business excessive watermark, his transfer to impartial artist and CEO of No Genre have been unmistakably productive however overshadowed by a gradual stream of public controversies. Long earlier than Kanye opted to forego standard knowledge in favour of off-kilter theories, B.O.B was discovering himself within the headlines for his different views. Where he’d been largely bypassed within the mainstream press because the begin of the last decade, he was immediately garnering column inches once more in 2016 as a proponent of the flat earth principle. Due to his refutal of contemporary science, he discovered himself in a collision of disembodied worlds when Dr Neil Degrasse Tyson took issue with his claims. Two ill-advised diss tracks later, the animosity of the “beef” could have simmered however it did appreciable harm to B.O.B’s credibility to the informal observer. As against being an remoted incident, B.O.B has doubled down on this new function of a conspiracy theorist and provocateur in recent times by claiming that the slave commerce by no means occurred amongst a litany of different controversial views on thoughts programming and cloning.
Granted, there’s nothing to say that artists- or humanity in general- ought to take every little thing we’re instructed at face worth however the true concern lies in the truth that it has made him into an web punchline. Due to satirical web sites and message boards making remarks about how “Flat Earth Theory Explains What B.o.B’s Career Fell Off Face Of”, the notable profession renaissance of the previous couple of years has been eclipsed. Since parting methods with Atlantic, Bobby Ray has been lauded by followers who’ve been keen to solid apart the wariness over his radical considering and embrace the fabric itself.
After embracing his genre-blurring tendencies on the Elements mixtape sequence, B.O.B produced his greatest work in a few years on fourth studio album Ether. Distributed by Empire, the 2017 document pressured many critics to side-line their misgivings and objectively reward the deserves of this Jacque Beats and 3O Roc-helmed mission. A yr later, B.O.B would comply with up with NAGA, claiming it to be his closing album. If that certainly proves to be the case, then he left the proper epitaph for his hip-hop profession on “Good N***a Sticker (Freestyle).” Rather than the normal fall-off, B.O.B rationalizes his fall from the pop charts because of a aware determination to be an outlier:
“These are the chronicles of a black magician, left the rap enterprise, Made some plaques with an unthreatening a black picture. But that is completed, you n****s nonetheless ass kissing, catfishing. Before I used to be rap fishing, I had visions of principally thousands and thousands and packed buildings.”
As evidenced by the above quote and the confounding punk rock of Halloween observe “Mind Control,” B.O.B is not catering to the viewers that embraced the pop-rap stylings of The Adventures Of Bobby Ray. When it got here to his placement on a serious label, B.O.B was all the time a sq. peg in a spherical gap, making an attempt to compromise on his artistry in an effort to appease his Atlantic overlords. One million miles faraway from the highlight that “Nothin’ On You” had positioned on him, B.O.B could have faltered within the eyes of the mainstream however retains a cult fanbase that can comply with him and all of his idealistic quirks to the hilt.