by Carla Bynum
B.o.B. released a mixtape titled WATER (We Are The Enemy Really) on December 4, 2015. Since then, he has released three more mixtapes titled FIRE (False Idols Ruin Egos), EARTH (Educational Avatar Reality Training Habitat), and AIR (Art Imitates Reality).
On May 12th, B.o.B. released his first independent album Ether through his own No Genre label as well as Grand Hustle and Empire Distribution. The album serves as the fifth element in his Elements series.
Bob feels like an alien on the track “E.T.” because he feels like he doesn’t belong. He acknowledges that he took a step back but he’s still in the game. Anybody against him gets a big “f*** you.” It’s only right that he is joined by the “Martian” Lil Wayne who knows he’s far from normal.
On the first part of the next trap, “Middle Man,” Bob shares his own personal experiences about never trusting the middle man. As soon as people thought Bob fell off, their true colors started show and they started treating him differently. People tend to hate him until they’re in his presence and they start to change their tune. Just before the four minute mark, part two “Mr. Mister” starts. B.o.B. raps about different characteristics that make him who he is.
B.o.B. tried to take the high road but he is fed up with the injustice in the world. “Our culture is so misunderstood,” he raps over the mellow beat on “Peace Piece.” He’s tired of waiting for reparations and equality against black people. He’s even contemplated leaving the country. The song also features Big K.R.I.T. who raps about the cold game black people, especially men, face in the system. “All you bring is war, asking me for peace.”
“Finesse” is a catchy track about all the women who portray themselves as good girls but are only saying things to manipulate him.
Young Thug joins B.o.B. on the track “Xantastic” which describes the feeling they get from the use of Xanax. Some side effects of Xanax include: hallucinations, relaxation of musicles, fatigue, and confusion. The track was released on May 3rd.
B.o.B. is joined by his Grand Hustle brother Young Dro and rapper London Jae on the track “Tweakin.” While this is the weakest track on the album thus far, it has all the makings to be a radio hit with its mundane lyrics and a nice beat.
The album’s lead single “4 Lit” was released on October 28, 2016. The track also marks the first song released by No Genre as a single. The song is about how crazy things are going to get with Bob, his lady, and her lady. The song features Ty Dolla $ign and T.I.
Bob raps about his use of weed and alcohol on the track “Substance Abuse.” He has never been shy about talking about his use of weed and things haven’t changed. He also mentions the war on drugs and the contrast between drinking and smoking. “The war that's on drugs actually creates all the violence,” he raps on the track. The track ends with a humorous skit about people who are addicted to a mysterious drug and the crazy things they do to get their hands on it.
Bob has a confession to make and he lays it all out on the track “Avalanche.” He admits that he suffers from depression and sometimes feels neglected and like he’s losing it. He’s tired of trying to be accepted and he just wants to be himself. He likens his feelings to an avalanche.
Bob is going through a breakup on the track “I Know” featuring WurlD. He knows there are things his ex-girlfriend wants him to do that he doesn’t want to. She wants him to write her a break up song and be in his feelings over their breakup. He isn’t good with his emotions and she doesn’t deserve anything from him.
Usher and Cee-Lo Green provide vocals for the closing track “Big Kids” where they realize that we are all big kids and the world is our toy.
One of the things that potentially hinder B.o.B. as an artist is his desire to please everyone musically. It’s difficult to figure him out as an artist and perhaps that’s what he wants. He’s an amazing musician who can capture listeners’ attention on a song about injustice and police brutality, such as “Peace Piece” but he can also make a great party track like “4 Lit.” For some, his music style may seem chaotic but simply put; he’s an eclectic artist who refuses to stay in one lane. And as B.o.B. said himself, if you ain’t with the movement, there’s no need for conversation.
Recommended Tracks: “Peace Piece,” “Avalanche,” “Finesse,” “Big Kids”