Young Bobby Ray a.k.a B.O.B has done very well for himself in a short time. After releasing his solo album The Adventures of Bobby Ray in 2010, B.O.B has released hit records, been grammy nominated and sets himself apart from a lot of his new school bretheren. He does so by maintaining a playful personality in full awe of his own experience. He falls more in the category of a music artist, than a rapper. Although mainly noted as being a commercial act, he seems to challenge himself musically – whether it be with the use of instruments, or him layering his own harmonies over hooks – B.O.B has helped to separate himself from the majority, which is a rarity in today’s “copy cat” music scene.
With “Underground Luxury” fans are curious to see if his development as an artist pushes him further up the list of today’s rappers or if he might just be trying to hard to continue to stand alone. The over-all feel of “Underground Luxury” is a young man who seems to signify success with material possessions as he states in his opening track “All I Want.” He prides himself as being able to “put food on my momma’s table” with his talents – and sees nothing wrong in wanting to pursue more of what life has to offer him for those talents. Then Bobby Ray kind of confuses the listeners by following “All I Want” with “One Day” – which takes us into a mind of a younger B.O.B who dreams of what the present day B.O.B has attained and escaped. Although lyrically on “One Day” his honesty of a poor upbringing shines in his story telling ability, the piano on this song sounds like something the character Linus from those “Peanuts” cartoons would play.
The strongest song on this album is “John Doe” which features Priscilla Renea. Bobby Ray has a knack for coming off more genuine than most do and it shows with lyrics like: “I spent so much time as an underground artist / Cause I was afraid to succumb to the business / And what I’d become / But that what you’d judge I become / The path with the greatest resistance / that’s how the tables can turn when they pivot / and change your perspective and flip your entire position.” On the track “Coastline” it seems like the money, fame and women that he talks about throughout the album, seem to have him forgetting who he is sometimes. It’s like one of the moments you get in life when you see the world for what it is and you ask yourself if I’m special for thinking differently or am I just lost in the shuffle of my own thoughts. And although “Coastline” provides a nice melodic hook and lyrics that are introspective – the problem with “Underground Luxury” becomes clear pretty quickly. It becomes harder to distinguish one song from the next because they all, for the most part, have the same format. B.O.B sings on nearly every hook and the energy is typically duplicated from track to track.
B.O.B has a knack for being a little “out-there” and that’s evident on tracks like “Cranberry Moonwalk” which doesn’t provide anything except an erupt shift from the verses to the chorus, provided by Mike Fresh. “We Still in This Bitch” features T.I. and Juicy J – and is totally out of place on the album and B.O.B goes down as another artist who features Future on a track in another failed attempt of trying to pass off Future as a decent artist on the song “Ready,” – seriously what’s the appeal of Future? . . .
“Headband” sounds like a bootleg version of the Juelz Santana “Whistle Song” but it does feature 2 Chainz who always seems to steal the spotlight with his simply-obnoxious delivery with gems like: “Chain hang to my ding a ling / Chain hang, chain hang to my ding a ling,” pure poetry.
There are more moments to forget than remember on this album and it’s a shame because B.O.B, in terms of delivery and lyrics is pretty on point throughout the project but it seems as if he got caught up in the same niche on every record, which is surprising for someone who is pretty open minded and knowledgeable to music in terms of genres and concepts. I expected more tracks like “Paper Route” on this album, in which the beat is layered with so many different elements and he maintains a level headed confidence throughout, : “And of course it’s unfortunate that n*ggas out here robbing for Jordans/Can we not afford them but got enough to get a Glock 40 / Is our views on reality kinda distorted?. . .you think you really know what’s goin on? They passin laws where they can run up in your own home/ cameras on your laptop, tv and your iphone / the battery don’t come out, that means it’s always on.”
Maybe this is just a speed bump in what should be a long and enjoyable music career for us to experience. The fact that he’s 25 and on his third album, leaves room for optimism moving forwards, but he states “maybe I bit off more than I could chew” on the track “Nobody Told Me” – and he was probably right about that, at least this time around.
Rating 5 out of 10
Shameless plug. . . if you want to download a remix I did a while back of B.O.B’s “Airplanes” – download it here: