“I don’t remember everything from last night… I just woke up with a scarf around my neck,” B.o.B tells his camp and Billboard.com’s The Juice Tuesday (Nov. 29) as we follow the rapper for our Day in the Life series. “A fur scarf,” B.o.B.’s co-manager, TJ Chapman, replies to bursts of laughter.
Photos: Day in the Life: B.o.B
B.o.B.’s show at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday night marked the first time in months that Bobby Ray had performed a sold out concert with the backing of a live band. Aside from performing with his band, important people were expected to be in the crowd, including “Satuday Night Live” staff. “A lot of key people who I want to see at my show [will be] in the crowd. Where the show is in the timeline of the album roll out is a very special,” B.o.B says.
While en-route to NYC’s Hot 97 offices to talk to Angie Martinez and DJ Enuff, B.o.B recites his verses from “So So” under his breath. “Can you take it back to the second verse?” he asks his assistant Jay.
The calm and collected rapper turns “on” the minute the Hot 97 “On Air” light does. He only gets brighter when discussing his music and performance with Martinez, “I just like performing these songs. I put out songs that people want to sing to… not [to] just fade away.”
B.o.B doesn’t sound like what you’d expect when thinking of Dirty South rap, but that’s where the appeal lies. He colors outside the lines with his eccentric, unconventional arrangements and fast paced raps.
The consesus’ co-sign can be heard in his projects, including his most recent mixtape, “E.P.I.C. (Every Play Is Crucial),” released yesterday. On “E.P.I.C.” we find B.o.B. reuniting with Detroit rapper, Eminem.
B.o.B Releases ‘E.P.I.C.’ Mixtape
“I grew up listening to Eminem. When I was 15 I told myself, ‘Man I’m going to get signed to Shady Records,” B.o.B says of Eminem. Eminem and B.o.B. team up on “Things Get Worse,” off “E.P.I.C.” a year after releasing “Airplanes, Part II.”
Also on the mixtape, along side Lil Wayne, Mos Def, Big K.R.I.T., and more, is his mentor, T.I.
“On all levels, from a personal level to a business level, he’s given me the upmost support. He understands where I am at in my career,” B.o.B. says. “‘Everybody is not wrong,'” [T.I. would say]. What he meant was you can’t ignore all the signs and clues. He said this when I was really confused on what I wanted to do with my music because it was very challenging to get out with the alternative music that I had. You don’t have to necessarily apply what everybody says to your regimen or your life but see where the arrows are pointing.”
Fans will get a taste of the chemistry between the “man and martian,” as B.o.B describes the ATLiens’ bond, on their upcoming collaborative album. “We started talking about it years ago [but] we both want to put out our solo projects out first then [keep] working on our man and the martian project,” he tells The Juice.
“Strange Clouds,” slated to hit shelves on March 2012, is Bobby’s first priority. “It’s duality. I’m [going to] bring the galaxy to the ghetto [but] in HD,” he said of his sophomore album. “I have a collab with Andre 3000 that I’m excited about…”
He stops mid sentence and smiles.
“Sometimes I slow down and be like, ‘Wow, you were just in your room, writing in your notebook, wishing to have a real studio. Now, not only do you have a studio but you’re working with the artists that you used to listen to growing up,” he says.
B.o.B has come a long way. Since coming into the game at 17, the rapper has stacked countless awards, earned Billboard No. 1s (Hot 100 No. 1 “Nothin’ On You,” featuring Bruno Mars, and Billboard 200 and Rap Albums No. 1 “B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray”) and performed for President Barack Obama.
Still, B.o.B. promises an even bigger year with his truest album to date, “I feel like if you don’t know me after this album, then you just don’t know me.”