B.o.B's Musical Adventures Pay Off

05/12/2010 4:30 AM |


B.o.B Presents: 
The Adventures of Bobby
(Grand Hustle)

Of the next generation MCs emerging in the post-gangsta era, few possess Atlanta rapper B.o.B’s irrepressible crossover potential. (Just think: when’s the last time a rap album was released a month early because of feverish buzz?) The hit single “Nothin’ On You,” a sing-song serenade with an almost irritably sweet chorus by Bruno Mars, could pass for long-lost Motown if not for the occasional nerdcore rhyme (“And just like that, girl you got me froze/like a Nintendo 64), but it’s the only obvious slow pitch for radio play on B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby. B.o.B’s versatility and charisma are unparalleled amongst his young peers, leading many to compare him to another twangy Georgian who likes to sing, Andre 3000. Bobby hasn’t reached the Outkast harlequin’s levels of experimentation, but that might only be because this is his first record.

Bobby Ray’s most adventurous songs aim for the still shaky pop-rock-rap middle ground that’s increasingly becoming hip-hop’s new sampling treasure trove (see Kid Cudi, at his best), and they’re almost always on target. Paramore’s Hayley Williams provides the chorus on the gloomy second single “Airplanes” (which adds an excellent Eminem assist on an alternate version at album’s end); and Rivers Cuomo lends a hand on the jock jams-y electro anthem “Magic.” These borrowings from mainstream-approved indie rock reach their zenith when B.o.B straight-up covers Vampire Weekend adding a touch of reggae and laidback boom-bap for the origin story “The Kids.” Bobby boasts of his cross-genre adaptability on the album’s closest thing to a traditional Southern rap burner, “Bet I,” which mixtape fans will recognize despite its remastered beat and spectacular new verse from album exec T.I. On the chorus B.o.B drawls confidently, “Put me on anything, still I bet I bust/put me anywhere on the map I bet I bust,” and he proves as much throughout his superb debut.