“I feel like I would have remained closer to artists like Bruno [Mars],” he says. “We were basically nobodies just trying to make it, trading ideas back and forth, cracking jokes. Same with Ty Dolla $ign, [though] I was already established. Over time, there’s a lot more red tape that develops when people blow up. There’s so much that can get in between the relationships. People just want to know that the appreciation goes both ways, [but] sometimes it’s hard to really articulate that once the fame train takes off.”
When he calls in mid-April, he notes that he just wants “to focus on what I’m excellent at doing” now. He’s less concerned with trying to stack his plate with too many side hustles -- he’s lost interest in the acting and clothing-line ambitions he held five years ago, but still has tentative plans to create a documentary and write a book at some point -- and more intent on getting the most out of everything that he interacts with. And given that he’s picking up pizza from Chuck E. Cheese, which he deems the best around, at the time of our call, his day-to-day life doesn’t need to be exorbitant, either.
“I would love for my life to be like when you go to a real fancy, futuristic hotel,” he continues. “One alarm clock. One TV. I want to focus on compact and potent lyrics. Real simple things but they mean a lot. Less is more.”
The immediate future will see the release of his new album, Somnia, which is currently without a release date but is “coming very soon” and will be filled with “more stories and retrospective” about his time in the limelight. He’s not making any concrete plans about what the next decade holds for him, though he notes that being in his thirties gives him a new perspective for music that he could never have held in his twenties.
Over the course of a decade and a half in the industry, it’s unclear if anyone has been able to fully understand B.o.B -- but that’s always at least partly been an intentional act. On the third track of The Adventures of Bobby Ray, “Past My Shades,” B.o.B sings on the chorus, “I play my role and never, ever speak it, like a secret/ And all the while you just try to figure me out.” The role has shifted a number of times -- and it’ll probably change again a few times before he’s done in the industry for good. But for seemingly the first time in his career, he’s come to terms with just exactly how he fits into the business.
“As an artist, you’re always looking to get better, get more fans, more notoriety,” B.o.B reflects. “You’re trying to challenge yourself. And sometimes you have to come to terms with whatever happens. I’ve accepted that wherever I am is where I need to be. There are no mistakes, there are no f--k-ups.”