B.o.B Talks 'Psycadelik Thoughtz,' His No Genre Label & Relationships

Jimmy Fontaine

"This is me getting back to my roots again.”

That’s how B.o.B characterizes his latest project, Psycadelik Thoughtz (Rebel Rock/Grand Hustle/Atlantic). Debuting at No. 10 and No. 7, respectively, on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums charts dated Sept. 5, the surprise release follows 2013’s Underground Luxury and the rapper’s 2014 top 20 hit “Not for Long” featuring Trey Songz.

While in Los Angeles to perform at BMI’s recent R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, the Grammy-nominated artist behind such hits as “Nothin’ on You,” “Airplanes” and “Strange Clouds” noted his next project this year will be a mixtape showcasing acts on his label imprint, No Genre. That roster includes Jake Lambo, London Jae, Scotty ATL, Lin-Z, JaqueBeatz and Javi. B.o.B, who glided into the Billboard office on an electric skateboard, also chatted about his multi-instrumentalist skills, the metaphysical side of life and why his relationship with fellow artist Sevyn Streeter works.

Psycadelik Thoughtz originally began as an EP. What inspired the resulting 11-track surprise?

The track “Back and Forth” is the song that stemmed the evolution from EP to full-length project. I felt I needed a project that could be built around that song to help people digest it. I kind of compare myself to a chef. I have to have flavors and spices that can accompany and support the taste. I’ve had success at urban and pop radio. But the goal for this project was to make a cohesive body of work; to really give my fans— for the first time -- a project that shows my abilities as a producer, singer and musician. I play guitar, bass, piano, trumpet and fool around on the drums. Put me in the studio and I’ll pretty much play everything.

On this album, you dig even deeper into fusing pop, rock, hip-hop and more.

I’ve always wanted to architect a career through which I can do any type of music I want to do without backlash. I want to get it into people’s heads that there isn’t one genre that defines what I do. It’s all genres.

In what genre box do people primarily try to put you?

It’s more so misconceptions. When I put out my first album [2010’s The Adventures of Bobby Ray], a lot of my mixtape fans were like, “Why are you making all this big pop music? We want the old Bob back.” Then when I did Strange Clouds, it was “I want the “Nothin’ on You” Bob back. Even with Psycadelik Thoughtz there are still some fans saying, “Go back to your old stuff.” It’s a never-ending conversation. But my story is still being told. Now I’m at the place of wanting to take all of these sides I’ve exhibited musically and combine it into a masterpiece that all of my fans can collectively enjoy.

It’s been five years since your debut album. What would fans be surprised to learn about you?

How much I’m into the metaphysical side of life: meditation, mudras, chakras, electromagnetic fields and astrology.

Since auditioning for the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, are more acting gigs on your horizon?

Eventually I want to get into more acting, something that requires just as much discipline and diligence as music. I’ve appeared on TV’s Single Ladies and The Game. I also do lot of skits with Vine stars. I’ve just been whetting my appetite.

One of your album’s guest stars is girlfriend Sevyn Streeter. What is the secret to sustaining a relationship between two well-known artists

The secret is there’s not a secret. It’s understanding that what works for one couple doesn’t work for others. And this works for us.