Review: B.O.B. at the Levi’s/Fader Fort, SXSW
by Winston "Stone" Ford
When it comes to the new Class of ’09, B.o.B., the Atlanta native, signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle Entertainment, might just be that quiet music kid in the back of homeroom.
While rappers like Wale, Kid Cudi, and Asher Roth get showered with buzz like a high school football team, B.o.B. (aka Bobby Ray) has gotten little buzz, even though he had a minor hit back in 2007 with “Haterz Everywhere.” For 2009, and his new album The Adventures of B.o.B., Bobby Ray hopes to be known more for his rootsier track “I’ll Be In The Sky,” than any crunk club banger.
His band setup sets him apart from every other rapper in the Class of ’09. The sound, a cross between Dungeon Family staples Outkast and Goodie Mob with soul crooners like Anthony Hamilton, is very stripped down, with the rapper picking up the guitar for tracks like “Ghost In The Machine,” and getting intimate for an acoustic rendition of “Generation Lost,” a introspective song in the vein of a soulful, Southern Coldplay. Don’t hate. Ray is a multi-instrumentalist, rocking the keys for some songs while picking up the guitar with ease for others.
And of course, with any rapper, you must have your family on stage. B.O.B. brought his boy Playboy Tre in for a few cuts. Tre, bringing that ATL Crunk to a Texas audience, plays to the solid ATL script, but offers a kind counterpoint to B.O.B.’s performance.
After seeing B.O.B. live I’ve completely come into his corner. He’s an artist that you want to see succeed. His Southern roots style is the complete antithesis of what were hearing in urban music today. Let’s hope that Bobby Ray can change the current direction of hip-hop.