It had to be around late 2007 when I first heard B.o.B’s “Haterz Everywhere,” the perfect single for a junior in high school that needed a lively anthem about haters for his ringtone. I soon found his Cloud 9 mixtape, Atlanta was rooted to all his raps, he exuded this energy of being young and black that grabbed us.
He didn’t seem too different from me and my friends, his music ran with us through the high school hallways and right before we walked across the stage to graduate he was featured on XXL’s Hip-Hop Class of ’09. What a cover, in that moment they all seem to have such big, bright futures.
And make no mistake, B.o.B’s future was brighter than most. He continues to feed fans mixtapes while dealing with album delays. He picked up a guitar, experimented with a new sound, and even split his personality to separate the rock star (Bobby Ray) from the rapper (B.o.B.). And then “Nothing On You” changed everything, it was a wildfire single that took B.o.B. and Bruno Mars to the top. Two new stars were born. B.o.B's star shined even brighter when “Airplanes” featuring Hayley Williams skyrocketed, successful in the states and overseas. His debut album, The Adventures Of Bobby Ray, balanced his pop fame and rap roots, a balance of club bangers and radio darlings that he would continue to juggle.
After being a fan for a while, as the years ticked by, I felt more and more that I knew what to expect next from the man. Even with an artist who broke boundaries, a formula, a predictable pattern, became evident. Now I would hear his music in passing and not feel compelled to stop. The music wasn’t bad—he has a verse on Tech N9ne’s “Am I A Psycho?” that’s nuts—it was more like hearing him was like running into an old acquaintance. One that you never seek out but when your paths cross you find comfort in knowing he hasn’t changed. Even with the best artists, once listeners detect a pattern it's easy to simply check out.
So when B.o.B released the recent mixtapes W.A.T.E.R (We Are The Enemy Really) and F.I.R.E (False Idols Ruined Egos), I didn’t stir, assuming that if any records were good enough they'd eventually find me while venturing through Atlanta. And then the other day we randomly received a tweet that linked back to B.o.B’s Twitter account. He was asking fans to pass his mixtape on, not because of an unsatisfactory response but in the name of fighting “censorship.” He went on to say that his account is censored, which means that not all his followers can see his tweets, that his numbers are decreased so his tweets don’t trend and even his YouTube views are tampered with.
A few fans that follow him wrote that they haven’t been able to see his tweets. Wait...what? There’s a lot of outspoken users on Twitter, but this is the first time I’ve heard of anyone being actively and selectively censored. It was even more surprising that it was B.o.B who was the target. He claims that all his social media is being heavily monitored and crippled. I hadn't seen any websites reporting a big change in B.o.B., it was puzzling. Who would want to censor the same guy that brought us “HeadBand”? “We Still in This”? It seemed stranger than the clouds he rapped about on his sophomore album.
I began to scroll through his tweets and Instagram and discovered for the last few months B.o.B has been tweeting some rather radical theories about the world. He's adamant that they're not "conspiracy theories," but that's the term most will immediately think of. His views on the moon landing, the government, and human cloning are all across every social media timeline. Looking into B.o.B's recent thoughts resembles entering that dark corner of YouTube where videos speculate about which rappers are in the Illuminati, but B.o.B apparently isn't interested in secret societies, he's onto alternative time streams (the Mandela Effect) and government cloning centers. Movies are recommended, articles are shared, more than once he stressed to his followers that he wasn’t on drugs or crazy and if anything happens to him it’s a cover up.
Occasionally you'll see flashes of the fun and carefree B.o.B, he'll pause to occasionally plug his new single "Cold Bwoy," but it’s not long before he’s back to fighting the forces of oppression that surround him. The B.o.B I knew or thought I had known, had changed drastically—how long had I simply not noticed?
From last November, through to today, B.o.B’s tweets have been largely focused on conspiracies. Almost daily his Twitter is updated, he has been consistently sharing sudden knowledge with his followers. But looking back, there are almost no mentions of the government and no cloning centers tweets before October of 2015. Like any other person that’s also a fairly well-known rapper, he spent his days tweeting memes, interacting with fans, firing off inspirational messages, promoting music, nothing out of the ordinary.
He does mention in February of 2015 that “Mars is colonized,” but the very next tweet is “Underboob Tattoo Thumbs Up.” There’s an FBI tweet that’s worth mentioning. In August he mentions the movie “The Stanford Prison Experiment” and on September 11, he tweeted “Jet Fuel Does Not Melt Steel Beams.” Twitter doesn’t allow me to go beyond December 2014, but this tweet was a bit of a surprising find.
I remember news reports that he got into an exchange with some users and controversial tweets about protesting that were later deleted. This exchange led him to record and release the New Black mixtape, a project that's eight songs long and supposed to inspire the listener to question the government. It’s done intensely, there isn’t any sugarcoating.
Back on his 2010 mixtape, No Genre, there’s a song called “Dr. Aden” (he tweeted the actual news story that inspired Dr. Aden in August 2015). The tale follows a female doctor who gets approached by a government official about a job, relocating to Central America for this new position. While in this secluded area she discovers documents that unveil a top secret that rattles her world. It’s inspired by Bayer Company, a discovery by an employee that medicine had AIDS in it and the FDA even knew about it.
That’s not the only song, there’s another, called “The Watcher” that is deeply rooted in some of the same theories he preaches today. Both of these songs were eventually turned into visuals and reappeared on the New Black mixtape. So these thoughts aren't exactly new, but what is new is the fervor and dedication to which he's devoted himself to spreading his vision of the truth. Based on the titles and the intricate artwork of both mixtapes that dropped just months between one another, I had a feeling the same viewpoint that was being displayed on his Twitter would seep into his music. I had to press play to see what this new and “woke” B.o.B sounded like.
The first song on his F.I.R.E mixtape is titled “Bend Over.” Based on the title, I assume it would be an ode to all the strippers in Atlanta and would be playing in a Magic City near you. I was wrong. The first two minutes of the track is news clips of celebrity deaths being reported and a soundbite of Dave Chappelle. It’s a heavy beginning, far from a club record, the hook alludes to something deeper, but the first verse is rather fixated on women. It’s not until the second verse, the beat switches and he begins to mention rituals, sacrifices, blood religion and cloning centers. Most of the tape is strongly influenced by his views, while the trap beats bang and his flow is smooth, the lyrics are guaranteed to leave you asking questions. I’m certain that’s the point. The song “Shh” might be the perfect example of old B.o.B meets new B.o.B.
W.A.T.E.R bleeds the same honesty, on the intro he doesn’t hold back calling healthcare the modern day “Adolf Hitler.” Whoa. At the end of the third song, “The Crazies,” he goes into a rendition of “Why You Always Lying” after referencing 9/11, Bill Clinton, and a woman who claims her ass is real. It’s the same silliness for which Bobby is known but with a twist. There’s no “Netflix And Chill” on either one of these tapes, without question B.o.B has entered into the “Red Pill” period of his career.
It’s been almost 10 years since I started listening to B.o.B and I would’ve never guessed that he would become an artist dedicated to presenting such a radical message in his music. I wonder what triggered the change? What made him start to speak out so righteously on subjects that are highly speculated on but rarely put to light by an artist adored by the mainstream? It's passionate, I believe that he truly believes in what he’s preaching. This is his truth. He wants all listeners to do their own research and come to their own conclusions. I don’t necessarily agree or understand all his notions but I can appreciate he’s doing something different that is making listeners think and ask questions. I spent a good bit of time getting familiar with the Mandela Effect, but truthfully I only emerged more confused about what timestream I'm writing this article in.
He isn’t the first artist to spread his views on the government and worry about the consequences, even Kendrick was worried about assassination in “HiiPower.” (Crazy that he just met the President. You think Obama heard Section80?). But B.o.B has undoubtedly become rap's most prominent radical tweeter, and while it didn't exactly happen overnight, the speed and intensity with which he's carrying out this new calling has frankly shocked me.
The adventures of Bobby Ray is now going down a giant rabbit hole, and there's not a wonderland in sight.
Editor's Note: We reached out to B.o.B.'s representatives asking to speak to him for this story. They have yet to respond.
By Yoh, aka Y.ogurt O.ver H.oes. aka @Yoh31