B.o.B Interview

Label:Rebel Rock/Grand Hustle/Atlantic
Next Project:The Adventures of B.o.B
Twitter:B.o.B on Twitter
Website:B.o.B's Website

In a day and age when delays are the rule rather than the exception, it takes a brave artist to immortalize his debut set’s release date in the title of a pre-album mixtape – especially when said date is still months away. Demonstrating that his boldness and willingness to take risks extend well beyond the studio walls, Best of the Booth award-winning Southern buzzmaker B.o.B has done just that; in addition to being a collection of dope tunes, his May 25th street album serves as a promise to his fans and a friendly reminder to the label brass.

With the tremendous success of lead single “Nothing on You,” as well as previously-released buzz tracks “Haterz Everywhere” and “I’ll Be in the Sky,” it’s a good bet Bobby Ray will be able to keep his vow and drop his long-awaited The Adventures of B.o.B LP on the appointed date. Either way, though, May 25 offers listeners plenty to enjoy in the meantime; featuring Kanye West-produced, Asher Roth-assisted leak “F*ck the Money,” Mobb Deep freestyle “The Biz” and much more, the critically-acclaimed set is available for free download at the artist’s official site.

In an exclusive interview with our own DJZ,” B.o.B steps into the Booth to discuss his patient yet very excited mindstate leading up to the arrival of his freshman set, his upcoming performance at this year’s Coachella festival, and why President Obama may already be a fan.

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B.o.B Interview Transcription

DJ Booth:  What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth for the second time is a Georgia native whose brand new mixtape proudly announces to the world that this spring his debut album finally will arrive. Please welcome the man born Bobby Ray Simmons, B.o.B – how are you, my friend?

B.o.B:  [imitates crowd cheering] Ahhh! [laughs] What’s up, man? How you feeling?

DJ Booth:  I’m doin’ great. Good to talk to you, as always. We were talking about, in the pre-interview, our last structured interview was all the way back in May of ‘08, after “Haterz became a really big buzz record for you. Has the waiting game since then – so, roughly two years – made you more patient, or impatient?

B.o.B:  I definitely went through a place and a tiime when I was very impatient, I was very frustrated, because of everything I had to build. It’s like I had to build a house; it took a while to dig the trenches and put the cinderblocks in, and build the foundation, but now it’s there. Now I’m glad, I’m in no rush at all. The album is close, the release date is May 25th, I’m in no rush, I can just take it ad ease, as a ease, ah! [stumbles over words] take it at an easy pace. [laughs]

DJ Booth:  [laughs] You’re so excited about the May 25th release date, the words are just not coming out right, I know…

B.o.B:  [laughs] I’m just so stoked about it!

DJ Booth:  I can hear the excitement! Now, obviously, titling a mixtape project as your release date 114 days before it’s ready to drop, is both a bold and risky move, considering how mixtapes and albums never drop when you’re supposed to. So, how sure are you, without a doubt, that this May 25th date will stick, and we’re not going to have to see a June 27th mixtape to promote the new date?

B.o.B:  Gosh… yeah, May 25th the mixtape is like, putting the stake in the ground, “This is it.” It also adds a sense of anticipation on the fan side and on the label side, so everything gets processed the right way, so the album can come out May 25th, so, like you said, we won’t have to do a June 28th mixtape! [laughs]

DJ Booth:  [laughs] I hope everyone’s calendars are circled, ‘cause May 25th is certainly going to be a day that everyone’s gonna go out and pick it up. I normally don’t argue with people I interview, but I have a beef with you: in the opening track on the mixtape, ”The Biz,” you say, “I ain’t famous until Obama knows my name.” I’m gonna disagree with you.

B.o.B:  [laughs] How do you disagree?

DJ Booth:  Here’s where I’m coming from: considering that your “I Am the Champion” record was used as the theme song for ESPN’s college football Bowl Season, and knowing that Obama is a huge sports fan, I think it’s safe to assume that he probably has heard your song, and he knows who you are.

B.o.B:  You’re right! Obama probably has seen that! He’s probably seen it multiple times, actually! So I guess I am famous.

DJ Booth:  OK, so you’re saying my argument is compelling enough for you to believe that you are indeed famous?

B.o.B:  [laughs] The evidence is substantial enough to change my position on that statement.

DJ Booth:  Yesss! That wasn’t too hard. Let’s talk about another song on the mixtape, “F*ck the Money” with Asher Roth. You rap about the misconception that artists have about the reality of this music business. So, having experienced both ups and downs, put into perspective the gap between your original expectations, and where they are at right now.

B.o.B:  The initial expectations… honestly, you learn a lot about having a team, a strong team. Initially, as an artist, you get into the industry, you can get stuck easily, and you can be under the impression that you’re gonna do everything yourself, which is highly impossible – it’s too much. In the song, what I was talking about was basically my perspective going through that phase where you realize it and you kinda get disappointed, but then you use it, and you take the situation and make it a good situation.

DJ Booth:  Absolutely. So you’re saying that what you’ve experienced has helped you better yourself in terms of where you’re at in your career right now? Bobby?

B.o.B:  Hey, sorry man, we’re drivin’ through the boonies, so it just dropped. [laughs]

DJ Booth:  Who’s your provider?

B.o.B:  Verizon, surprisingly – they’re supposed to have the 3G map on lock.

DJ Booth:  [laughs] Yeah, I was just gonna say, they’re lying! They’re lying to you!

B.o.B:  [laughs] AT&T and Verizon, they have this thing where they’re both competing against each other, but they’re both in bed together, because they’re both promoting each other in [their commercials].

DJ Booth:  T-Mobile’s sitting there, going, “What about us, what about us?!” Let’s get back on track; you have an outro track, “2010,” in which you say we have a lot to look forward to, and that’s quite the statement. So, what are you looking forward to the most, other than, obviously, the release of your debut?

B.o.B:  Well, as far as my QB vision can see, I’m very excited about, of course, the album, May 25th. I’m doin’ a free online concert February the 18th, over the Internet; it’s free, people can download it, it’ll be a pretty exclusive crowd of people, but the main purpose is for the Internet, and people who can’t come to a show, to experience it and see what it’s like. I’m also excited about Coachella; I’m performing at Coachella on the 18th… I’m sorry, I just said “18th.” It’s April 18th. And basically, if you’re not familiar with Coachella, for all the listeners, it’s a three-day event. They have Jay-Z the first day, Muse the second day, and Gorillaz the third day, and a lot of other supporting acts – MGMT, myself, the list goes on. So it’s gonna be like Woodstock, and I’m very excited about that. I’m possibly doing tours with Lupe in the future, I’m also doing a little mini-tour with Goodie Mob in D.C., Atlanta, and the North Carolina area, so I’m excited about that.

DJ Booth:  Back to what you said about [Coachella]. For listeners who aren’t familiar, it never used to be a festival that invited hip-hop artists, so I think it speaks volumes that you’re going to be able to perform there, because they like your music so much.

B.o.B:  I know, and it’s crazy because it’s like, all of the headliners are the combination of that. Like, if you mix Jay-Z and Muse you get Gorillaz!

DJ Booth:  [laughs] So, what two artists make up B.o.B?

B.o.B:  Um… [laughs] You’d have to get some Bjork, you’d have to get some Gnarls Barkley, you’d have to get some Coldplay, you’d have to get some DMX, some Eminem, some Dr. Dre, some Outkast, you’d even have to get some Lil’ Jon in there! You’d have to even get that!

DJ Booth:  [laughs] Throw it in a blender and you get B.o.B – got it! All right, we’re going to play a game, it’s called Title Mad-Libs. Using the titles of a few of the songs on the May 25th mixtape, I’m gonna read you a few sentences. All you’ve gotta do is fill in the blank. Cool?

B.o.B:  All right.

DJ Booth:  Awesome. First one, “It doesn’t Surprise Me that I am [blank].”

B.o.B:  [laughs] High.

DJ Booth:  [laughs] Number two, “I Don’t Feel So Good when I think about [blank].”

B.o.B:  That’s great… It doesn’t feel so good when I think about tax season.

DJ Booth:  And that’s comin’ up right around the corner. Amen, brother.

B.o.B:  Yeah…

DJ Booth:  And, last one, “I Bet that my debut album will [blank].”

B.o.B:  Go platinum.

DJ Booth:  Quite the achievement, my friend. I hope it does. Speaking of the debut, the current single off that debut, “Nothing on You,” is really gaining a lot of traction at radio. I’ve spoken to a few fellow DJs across the pond and the song is also buzzing overseas, which is always important. With that said, the singular driving force behind your rising popularity has gotta be your presence online. Do you agree, do you disagree?

B.o.B:  Definitely – like, the online presence played a huge part, and that’s primarily because a good part of the population is online, and they follow Twitter, they’re on these blogs sites that put up music, such as DJBooth.net. Hip-hop has become a lot more interactive. But at the same time, I feel like you still have to do physical, real-world promotion and real-world marketing and actually go perform and go places and do shows. [There] has to be a tangible aspect to it, and not just digital, and I think the balance between the two is important.

DJ Booth:  Absolutely. So, how much stock would you say you’ve put into your online presence, and how do you believe that it does translate into your current buzzing popularity?

B.o.B:  I would say half and half. I would say I put half of it into the online presence, using the online presence to promote, show people what I look like, [do] press, and get songs out there. Getting songs out there is really the main purpose of the Internet, getting people to hear the music. And in the real world I really put huge importance in my performance, and making sure it’s a great show. And the balance between the two creates enough word-of-mouth to where people will know, it’ll be connected, it’ll connect the dots. So, all the people in California will know just as well as the people in Europe and the people in Atlanta – it’ll be like a web.

DJ Booth:  Absolutely – no pun intended! You literally took the next question off my one-sheet, it’s as if you’re standing over my shoulder.

B.o.B:  I could be!

DJ Booth:  You could be, but you’re not. That would make me high. I got to see you perform this past summer out in L.A,, on the Great Hangover tour with Asher and Pac Div at the House of Blues, and one thing I noticed was that, by the fourth or fifth song of your set, you really had everybody in the crowd singing along. It was almost as if we were doing “Kumbaya.”

B.o.B:  [laughs] I definitely feel like the comfort level went up dramatically, and it’s really because I feel like I’m becoming more familiar with the type of people who would come to a B.o.B show, and I’m becoming more familiar with the fans. And it’s crazy because I’ll go to a city, and I’ll see the same fans who were there for the first show. And I see a lot of people, so when I see a fan, I’m bad with names but I remember faces, and I’ll see some of the same faces multiple times, and sometimes in separate cities. Like, I’ll see one fan in one city, go to the next city, and see ‘em again. It’s almost like following, it’s like Twitter. It’s like physical Twitter.

DJ Booth:  [laughs] Yeah. You’ve gotta hope they don’t show up at your front door, though. That’s where it goes too far. Now, I remember a conversation I had with [your manager], at that show, where he told me that you had recorded a song and done a video with T.I., that was prospectively going to be a monster single off the debut – where is that?

B.o.B:  That is somewhere between here and there. Somewhere in the air.

DJ Booth:  OK, so how about a non-vague answer?

B.o.B:  Really it’s so vague, ‘cause it involves Coldplay, which is, that’s a whole different ballpark of artist. It’s not set in stone enough to put people’s expectations onto it, but it’s there… the potential energy is there.

DJ Booth:  You’ve got me excited, but only kinda.

B.o.B:  Yeah, exactly: only kinda.

DJ Booth:  OK, I’m trying to hold back. I’m holding back my excitement. Bobby, going back to our first interview, I asked you what people could expect from your debut offering, The Adventures of Bobby Ray, and you said, and I quote, “No one is gonna know what the f*ck just hit them.” Twenty-one months later, same answer?

B.o.B:  Same answer: people will not know what the f*ck hit ‘em.

DJ Booth:  That’s a good problem to have, my friend.

B.o.B:  [laughs] It’s the perfect problem to have.

DJ Booth:  Absolutely. Before we go, I just wanted to let you know, my mother highly enjoys your song “Satellite.” It’s on her iPod.

B.o.B:  Wow…

DJ Booth:  Yeah, she loves it, so you have a fan in my mother.

B.o.B:  People love that “Satellite.”

DJ Booth: Huge song with the ladies, let me tell you. Not that I don’t like it also…

B.o.B:  I guess it’s kind of like a galactic romance type of song.

DJ Booth:  [laughs] Exactly. Bobby, give everybody a website, a Twitter, a MySpace, something so they can find out more about you and, of course, the release of your debut this spring.

B.o.B:  People, go to bobatl.com, I’m on Twitter, twitter.com/bobatl, myspace.com/bobatl... everything is “bobatl.” And also, all of the information that you need – tour dates, the free online concert comin’ up February 18th, the mixtape – everything is on the website, bobatl.com, so check that out.

DJ Booth:  Keepin’ it simple, that’s what I like. You’re not tryin’ to confuse anybody.

B.o.B:  Yeah, gotta keep it very simple.

DJ Booth:  B.o.B, thank you as always for taking the time to join me inside the Booth for an interview, and nothing but the best of luck, my friend.

B.o.B:  Oh, definitely, thank you brother.

DJ Booth:  Anytime.

B.o.B:  All right, Z.

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