(27) Album review -- B.o.B. "The Adventures of Bobby Ray"

You know, I am gonna be honest here...
I was totally not checking for this album coming into it, hence I am posting a review of it on the date of release, having typed up the review only 4 days prior.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am quite adept at copping an album through the "screener's house" method; proper application of the use of my RSS subscriptions. That being said, I probably glossed over this a couple times before I finally said "fuck it" and enqueued the download into JDownloader, then forgot it for a day or two longer after it was downloaded and unpacked.
Sue me.

I acknowledged the download of the album due to a text from someone who I am sure is not reading this right now -- even though he has been provided with a link to it -- and the catchy lead single. More on that when I get down to it...
What we do know about this kid B.o.B. is that he was born somewhere here in the great state of NC, but calls Atlanta home, is signed to Grand Hustle and that he is an alum of the XXL Magazine 2009 Freshmen class, if that happens to hold any value to you.
[Phlip note - with any magazine that gives as much attention to Gucci Mane as they do, the answer to that should be a resounding "no"]

An oddity here, though, is that in a marketplace where the former child actor Canuckistanian with the so-called "buzz" keeps getting his album pushed the fuck back and is apparently okay with it and this new kid can create (or have created) a hype around himself to be pushed UP.
Needless to say, in a market where someone could sell a quarter the number of copies than they might have had to just 3 years ago and still debut number one on billboard, an artist who can see his album pushed UP definitely has my attention. So I downloaded it, and now I will listen to it to decide whether or not it will be worth my $9.99 or less on all single-disc albums at FYE (FYE, I know y'all see this, cut the check!).

1. Don't Let Me Fall
Looks like this one will begin without an intro?
Wait, I thought this dude was a rapper... What is this singing shit? The guitars and pianos are a good touch on a otherwise cheap-sounding beat.
Okay, now he is rapping, but I am not sure how I feel about that to be totally honest. I guess this song is okay, and fits as an album-starter.
He better be prepared to do better than this.

2. Nothin' on You (featuring Bruno Mars)
This is first-single material... Fitting, of course, that it is.
Generally annoying, easily digested and CATCHY AS FUCK, just as most #1 singles are known for being. Someone played the carousel perfectly with this one. So well, in fact, that I didn't know that this WASN'T Bruno Mars' song until Thursday or Friday of last week.
Skip button if I ever listen to this album again.

3. Past My Shades (featuring Lupe Fiasco)
I am not sure how I feel about this pairing... I am expecting a pretentious 23-minute song with Lupe thanking people who had nothing to do with it.
Oh shit, more singing from B.O.B.
Well, that didn't last long, he is rhyming, but he sounds like someone we have heard before. As I listen to the hook of this song, I can't help but think of Lady Gaga's Poker Face, and that is not a good thing.
Lupe turns in a generally lazy verse, almost as an attempt to put B.O.B. over like Jay-Z did for him way back when. This is the best beat on the album so far, I am not sure how much that is saying, since the song was just over mediocre.

4. Airplanes (featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore)
What the hell?
I would be willing to bet that this will be the next single.
He is not singing on this one, but why would he when he has a white girl to carry that for him?
This beat is HARD, I like that. The beat might be a bit hard for the guest on the song, but she only gets 8 bars at the end of every 16.
This is the "I finally made it" song, standard on every debut hip hop album since 1992. I only MINORLY liked this one, how ironic that it was the shortest song on the album so far.

5. Bet I (featuring T.I. and Playboy Tre)
Another cheap-sounding beat.
Ugh... Songs like this are why people look down their noses at Southern hip hop music. Choppy production, choppy rhymes to mimick. T.I. saves this, since he does the choppy flow better than anyone I can think of right off the top of my head. For a song about rhyming, I sincerely wish that the host rhymed harder. It seems also weird that an unknown gets the third verse and it just isn't that good.
Skip this one after T.I. finishes.

6. Ghost in the Machine
**Phlip prediction**
This song will be about shittiness of the industry...
God, these keys suck.
Damn, the synths don't help...
I don't like this song already.
My prediction was wrong. This seems to be one of those "nobody knows me" songs, but he is singing again. With the beat and the singing on this one, I seem to want to listen to Gnarls Barkley when this one is over.
[Phlip note - put a pin in that, it will be on the final]
Skip button...

7. The Kids (featuring Janelle Monae)
Another pop-like song... More singing, why when he has a singer featured?
Okay, now he is rapping... This is the "when I was growing up" song, another standard on hip hop debut albums.
Janelle Monae is onboard to tug at the heartstrings of the "earthy black chick" aesthetic. She doesn't do the hook, instead she gets a verse on the song. All bases have been covered to this point in the album, I think.

8. Magic (featuring Rivers Cuomo of Weezer)
This is a Gym Class Heroes song, isn't?
[Phlip note - that was mean...]
"Cee-Lo" is back...
Beat is cheap-sounding again.
I wonder if this Cuomo guy is related to the political family in New York? I COULD be listening to this song instead of thinking about that, but I am not too sure that I really want to. I guess it sounds okay, but it is just not doing enough to get my attention for what would be considered the "right reasons," so I will think about what it would be like to ride a horse, which I have never done... Maybe one day when The Katie and I are both off, we should explore that possibility.

9. Fame
This is the first beat that I can HONESTLY like within the first few moments of it starting... As it were, I am expecting a song about the ills of fame, another cliche topic, usually reserved for the second album.
In an industry where one gets on by giving music away since their controllers can't be bothered to help them, I guess this topic can be moved to debut presentations, so long as they don't pretend to have accomplished shit.
This song is decent, better than "mediocre," but not quite "good" yet.

10. Lovelier Than You
This is a folky country sendup at the outset, let's see how this thing plays out...
No, I was right. This is somewhere between folk and black country music. People everywhere else call us "Bammas" already, and this shit here will not help one bit.
I think this is a love song, but I am having a hard time listening to it through the protests of my common sense.
Ooh look, he knocks off the singing shit to rhyme as Andre 3000 again, and--... fuck... never mind.

11. 5th Dimention (featuring Ricco Barrino)
I am calling this one label politricks... Ricco is on this song because he is also on Grand Hustle and it is apparent that having been on his sister's reality show did approximately dick to up his own Q-Rating... Perhaps they should have gotten Teeny to feature?
[Phlip note - even I had to witness that fucking trainwreck of a show for myself, don't judge me]
This is a waste of a high-energy beat... B.O.B. does the beat justice, but my preconceived notions of the Barrino family work HARD against him on this one.

12. Airplanes (Part 2) (featuring Eminem and Hayley Williams of Paramore)
Okay, Eminem is rhyming PISSED!!! If he rapped like this on his more recent work, I might have listened more than once or twice. My theory about using remixes on albums this short remains, though. Sadly, however, is that this might be the best song on this presentation and it has more to do with the presence of Eminem than it does the contribution of the host.

One thing that kinda bothered me coming into this was not understandably short track listing and play time (just about 48 minutes), so much as how much of that time is shared with people whose name is not on the front cover of the album. 8 guests in 12 tracks is a bit much.
Preconceived notions bothered me too. No, not about him being a Southern Rapper, as I am qualified by virtue of being FROM the South by having more objective ears for such things when compared to people from other regions. This doesn't mean I would call something even passable if it is shitty, it means I will say that something is shitty when it is, simple as that.
Another was the XXL Freshman thing, since they seem to make a point of picking the shittiest of shit for that column, then sprinkling in a little something "other" and call themselves diverse or objective. I can't say I blame them, as their ultimate goal is to sell magazines and shore up page views.
Except they spend FAR too much time propping up shitty shit.

Back to this album...
I am REALLY glad that this didn't cost me money. People can pretend that B.O.B. is some kind of underdog or whatever you want to call it because he is from the South. The fact, however, remains that he is under the thumb of the machine and this album comes across as such.
At times, I think he is doing a sendup of Andre 3000 and others he is doing Cee-Lo. Others still, he is doing Field Mob. The problem, though, is that I never get a feel over the course of this album for just who in the fuck HE is. Guest appearances are oddly placed, or should I say eclectically mixed, which will give the nerds a raging woodrow since their idol Lupe Fiasco is on the album. Not to mention that one verse from Eminem GREATLY outshined every other SECOND on this album and served only to make us hope that he goes in like that on his own next project, not even thinking about this album...
In line with my previous rant about executive production, this album largely lacks a concept or direction and, in such, never KEPT my undivided attention without me forcing myself to listen for the sake of this review. An album should have a direction to make you want to listen to the songs in order, as opposed to skipping ANY of them.
On the whole, I will not call this a BAD album, but I would surely not call it a good one either. I guess if you like a slightly friendlier fare of Southern hip hop easily digestible by a radio audience, then this is where you would like to be, even if it pretends not to be. I am not purchasing this album, and I would not recommend a purchase of it in good faith.
In fact, it will probably find itself buried deep in that cavernous hard drive over there and not listened to again. Three listens for the sake of a review is all I promise before forming an opinion.


Yeah, pretty much. You know how I felt about it already. I think we had the exact same over all feeling, not BAD, but nothing that is going to change the industry. I'm glad you mentioned lack of concept because that is right on. I had no idea what this album was about and who this dude was. You go back and listen to any of the greats first (Biggy, Eminem, Jay-Z) and you can sit down afterward and pretty much tell someone what this dude is about in a nutshell. Not so here. Good review.

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