“Who’s Next?”… B.o.B – the leader of the this year’s class

Our Who’s Next Interview Spotlight with Atlanta Native B.o.B

In the last two years Hip-Hop aficionados have watched as rapper B.o.B. has gone from unknown newcomer to one of the most respectable new faces on the scene. His style is unique, his rhymes are well thought out and his potential is seemingly unlimited. The buzz around his debut album, B.o.B presents The Adventures of Bobby Ray has continued to build while he’s released mixtapes and made guest appearances just about anywhere you could imagine. His smash hit lead single, “Nothing On You” has already gone platinum and recently went number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It is without a doubt that B.o.B is “Who’s Next?” It took a while but we finally tracked down the leader of the new class and got to talking about his upcoming album, his journey to this point and where he sees his future.

 

Parlé: Congrats on all the recent success you’ve been experiencing. How do it feel to finally have things going completely positive towards the release of this album?
B.o.B: Well you know, now it feels like it’s going the way it’s supposed to be. It was always going to way it was supposed to be, but now it feels like it’s going the way it’s supposed to be. So all the hard work I put in and everything I’ve done up until now have really set up this situation. Now I’m just blessed.

Parlé: How did you know you wanted to get into Hip-Hop, and when did you realize it was something you could actually be successful at?
B.o.B: I never really knew I just kinda hoped. I kept writing and writing. I just kept writing until the verses and stuff were sounding the way I wanted.

Parlé: What was it like growing up? What were some of those things that helped develop the man you are today?
B.o.B: I had it rough, there were a lot of real challenging situations, I was placed in a lot of positions where as a child you’re challenged, but the real challenge was me finding my own skin, finding my own art form which is what developed me. After that it only gets easier.

Parlé: And when did rap become part of the equation for you?
B.o.B: What started me rapping was my own frustration, which led me to use rap as therapy. So I would always rap and I would always carry notebooks around with me. A lot of my notebooks were confiscated in school cause they would take one, and I’d pull out another one, they’d take that, I’d pull out another. I mean eventually I got ’em back but I was all about the lyrics.

Parlé: How did you link up with T.I. and the whole Grand Hustle team?
B.o.B: Being in Atlanta on the underground scene you run into a lot of people. I performed at an open mic at Club Crucial, you know that’s T.I. club so naturally people he’s around are gonna be there so I started to develop a relationship with them. We didn’t sign with them initially but when the deal was right, we signed on with Rebel Rock/Grand Hustle.

Parlé: Okay so you grind and then you finally get signed to Atlantic Records, what took so long with getting this debut out there?
B.o.B: It’s a lot of politics. With the album you have to have everything in place, and everything has to be planned out. It has to be the right time. I signed my deal in 2006. I thought the album was going to be out in 2007, but you gotta develop yourself as an artist and you gotta develop a following.

Parlé: Did T.I.’s going to prison affect you and the album release at all?
B.o.B: No, not really. Me and my team we persevered. And now he’s out now so its all systems go.

Parlé: In the last few years you’ve been featured in so many places and have had a lot of positive situations arise, is there any one thing you think that really set things off for the B.o.B movement?
B.o.B: It’s hard to say because everything has been beneficial and each step exists because of the things before it. So I’d just have to compliment the whole staircase. The mixtape, that led to the next mixtape, that led to my appearance on TV shows-The Mo’Nique show, The MTV Awards. It’s all been beneficial.

B.o.B
Parlé: The album was originally supposed to drop in May, its almost unheard of these days for an album to get pushed up, what prompted the label to push it up to April?
B.o.B: The anticipation of the record got them to push it up. I put out the mixtape after I got the original release date so I was even surprised that the album was moved up.

Parlé: You’re such a unique artist and it shows in everything you do, what inspires you? Was it music? Experiences?
B.o.B: One sound or genre can’t inspire this. You have to live a certain type of life to be me. It’s really hard for me to do one thing and stay interested in it.

Parlé: Many people compare you to Andre 3000, and you’ve even mentioned it on tracks, how do you react now when people try to compare you to him? Does it affect you at all?
B.o.B: It’s like having someone you look like. People go around telling you all day who you look like, but you already know so it doesn’t affect me.

Parlé: The latest single, “Nothing On You” has garnered a lot of success, but lets talk about the video, how’d the concept come about for that.
B.o.B: The concept for the video took a while. We looked around for a long time to find a treatment. It’s something called Stop Animation.

Parlé: And how’d you link up with Bruno Mars on it?
B.o.B: Me and Bruno Mars actually hooked up like 2 years before we did the record. We were in the studio a lot in ’08-’09. It wasn’t like we did this hoping it would be the single. I was at the point where everything I took the time to record I felt was a good record so it didn’t matter what they chose I knew it would be good.
Parlé: Lets talk about the album, do you have any surprises?
B.o.B: (Laughs) It’s a surprise so I can’t tell you. There will be some surprises though, I’ll tell you that much.

Parlé: You can’t even let us in on a small one?
B.o.B: Naw you’ll have to wait for it.

Parlé: Okay, did you do any of the production on this album?
B.o.B: Yeah I did about half the production.

Parlé: You put out a lot of mixtapes in the last few years, whats the biggest difference between this album and one of your mixtapes?
B.o.B: The top difference is the production. The production is definitely up to par—not to say its not on the mixtapes, but this is the creme de la creme. So I feel good about it. It’s about the music. I still don’t know how people are gonna feel, or how good I’ma do. I just gotta flow through, and as long as everyone is rolling with me that’s cool.
I know I answered that question a little crazy on the end, but I tend to do that, I tend to just go off and be talking.

Parlé: What advice do you have for upcoming artists trying to be the next B.o.B?
B.o.B: Make sure that you write your thank you’s now. When you try to look back at years and years and try to thank everybody, you gonna have a hard time.
You gotta be patient cause you not always right. You gotta develop yourself. It takes time to develop your craft. The thing about artists is they feel like if they wait they gonna miss out on themselves. They’re like ‘man, I got this dope song, I got dope lyrics, I need to show people now, cause if I don’t show them now then I’ll never be able to do it’. But its like you only get better with time. So you can wait a little bit longer. Waiting ain’t never hurt nobody. So that’s what I tell artists. Just be patient.

Parlé: Where do you see yourself in five years?
B.o.B: I feel like I would have grown into a philanthropist. I feel like I do it now already, but I feel like I will grow into a full philanthropist.

Parlé: Do you have any idea what you’d be doing specifically?
B.o.B: I don’t know. Going from country to country, going to different communities. I don’t know what I’ll be doing yet cause I just don’t have the vision yet, but I have the inspiration. I feel like music will take me there.

Parlé: How’d you come up with the title for the album?
B.o.B: I came up with the name The Adventures of B.o.B about 3 years ago. Its hard holding onto a name and a concept for 3 years—I had a moment right there just reminiscing. But you start off with the idea, you watch it grow, you watch it develop and I feel like it definitely reflects it. As an artist I feel good about that title because no matter what happens it will never get old because no matter what happens I will always have an adventure to tell. I feel confident and I feel good about the release of the album. I feel like I did pretty well. Even though the album is at the release point I’m still moving. I can’t be like work is done. I’m the type of person where I just like things to be exciting. If its not exciting I can’t be a part of it.

Parlé: Over the last couple of years you’ve really emerged on the forefront with a lot of new artists, is there anyone you want to see win in addition to yourself?
B.o.B: Really I can’t say what would entitle another person to win. It really depends on what an artist defines as their success because another artist might not define coming out and selling a million records a success. Another artist might define success as just being able to come out with an album. I feel like just being able to put out an album is successful. I just want every other artist to come out and achieve their goals.

Parlé: Thanks a lot man. Any final words you want to put out there?
B.o.B: Twitter.com/bobatl
www.bobatl.com

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Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2007 with a Bachelors of Science in Legal Studies. Empowering the urban community has been a goal for Kevin Benoit for the past 8 years. As a freshman in college, in May of 2004, Benoit created Parlé Magazine, an urban entertainment magazine that focused on literacy through entertainment. The publication has since provided a stepping-stone for many individuals throughout the country, from teens to adults and continues to provide inspiration for inspiring entrepreneurs, writers, photographers and graphic designers. Read more articles by Kevin.

Kevin Benoit has 271 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin Benoit

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