REVIEW: B.O.B. – May 25th

Chain blunt smoking Atlanta rap-singer B.o.B- aka Bobby Ray recently released May 25th, his mixtape project with DJ Drama and DJ Sense which, coincidentally, promotes the release date of his first solo album- B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray (Grand Hustle Records).

Although he has appeared on a long list of mixtapes and collaborated with artists including: Royce Da 5’9”, Ludacris, Pitbull, and Solange Knowles- a lot of us know him best from 2008’s “I’ll Be In the Sky” weirdness. One of the things I found somewhat disconcerting about “I’ll Be In the Sky” was the fact that the track could be slid in among a collection of Outkast songs, and no one really would have noticed that it shouldn’t have been there. Thankfully, May 25th provides us with an opportunity to experience the more individual and unique sides of B.o.B’s split personality.

His love of and dedication to other genre’s of music besides hip hop are evident (and gratefully welcomed) on the mixtape, and the mtvU and back-packer sets should eat this one up. While it’s not a bad thing to be compared to his fellow ATLiens, it’s a good sign that B.o.B. can do his own thing and still be interesting and relevant enough to be considered part of the “new generation of hip hop” by industry bibles XXL and Vibe magazines.

Fast becoming a highly anticipated album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray keeps drawing those pesky comparisons to Andre 3000 (or whatever he’s calling himself these days), but May 25th is a good last chance to check out B.o.B before the type-casting and genre defining media is able to decide which box to put him in.

“Gladiators” featuring J. Cole and produced by Alchemist is futuristic and kind of…different. The music is actually a little distracting, but the lyrics are thoughtful and sincere… “What am I a spokesman now/what am I a poster child/what am I supposed to smile/what am I supposed to be/ the dopest emcee/to hold this down?/what if I wasn’t poor as a child/what if I didn’t grow up in doubt…”

“F**k the Money” featuring Asher Roth and produced by Kanye West should be required listening for all aspiring rappers. Roth (sounding a little like Eminem), seems to have decided he misses more than just his college days…”Ima quit this crazy scene/cuz everything you see ain’t always what it be/ please don’t believe in that TV screen/ I’m sorry kids but there’s no such thing/and I don’t know how to feel/when this dream of mine used to be so real/ anything just to sign a deal/but now, I’d trade it all for a home-cooked meal/cuz they don’t care bout us/they just use us up/ leave us in the dust…”

“Surprise Me” produced by Infinity has a nice, clean (in the sense that it’s not noisy or overdone) uncomplicated, old school beat, and “Fool For Love” featuring Charles Hamilton provides surprising insight into heartbreak from the male perspective.

On “Nothing On You” featuring Bruno Mars, B.o.B explains to his doubt-ridden girl that even though chicks are trying their best to get at him, he’s all about her. It’s probably going to get so much air time it’ll become one of those songs that makes you roll your eyes when you see the video pop up on the TV screen because you’ve seen it so many times.

While it’s not clear whether or not May 25th is a sample of what’s to come on the album, there is certainly enough good material on the project to merit a serious listen when it comes out.

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