Examining B.O.B’s Career: Billboard, "Blackballed," And Bouncing Back

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When B.O.B’s debut album descended on the Billboard Hot 100, it signposted the arrival of a brand new crossover celebrity. Just one 12 months on from changing 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 due to 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 turn into an integral a part of hip-hop’s industrial foreground by the point he netted 5 Grammy nominations in 2010. Yet like these nominations by no means translated into wins, the upward trajectory progressively slipped by means of his fingertips, remodeling him into an fascinating anomaly fairly than the globe-trotting power that he was groomed to turn into. 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 might probably primarily be attributed to an id disaster that was waged between artistic and industrial 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, all the pieces. Just mainly residing 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 items upon launch. Although many artists would clamour for these bodily figures right this moment, they’ve a far better significance in B.O.B’s profession as they mark the start of a downturn that he’s by no means been capable of shake off. In truth, the top 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 12 months 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 main success to the place I’m at now,” he defined. “And it’s much more unfiltered and unedited than something I’ve ever achieved.”

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 said. “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 industrial artists starting from Eminem, his mentor T.I, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown and 2Chainz, all of his put up 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 proficient multi-instrumentalist and has been waging a conflict to be beholden to No Genre for a few years. Expressed by means of 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 industrial 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 all of a sudden garnering column inches once more in 2016 as a proponent of the flat earth idea. Due to his refutal of recent 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” might have simmered but it surely 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 position of a conspiracy theorist and provocateur lately by claiming that the slave trade 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 all the pieces we’re advised at face worth however the true situation 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 prepared 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 file pressured many critics to side-line their misgivings and objectively reward the deserves of this Jacque Beats and 3O Roc-helmed mission. A 12 months later, B.O.B would comply with up with NAGA, claiming it to be his last album. If that certainly proves to be the case, then he left the right 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 resolution 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 largely 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 significant label, B.O.B was all the time a sq. peg in a spherical gap, making an attempt to compromise on his artistry with a view to appease his Atlantic overlords. 1,000,000 miles faraway from the highlight that “Nothin’ On You” had positioned on him, B.O.B might 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.