Review Summary: While not truly giving all he's got, this'll get us by until the next album.
For those of us who have kept up with B.o.B over the years, we seemingly expected a lot from his latest album, Underground Luxury
. Getting to know Bobby Ray Simmons through his down to earth lyrics of where he comes from and getting a taste of where he stands on issues both political and social, fans can attest that not only is he capable of making a beautiful album, but he's also a very likeable character. That being said, after the success of Adventures of Bobby Ray
going gold, and two singles from his sophomore album Strange Clouds
going platinum, fans and critics alike waited to see the catchy lyrics, great beats, and the smooth nature to come from his third studio album release. Maybe it was starting with such success that it set the standard too high, or maybe his followers just weren't expecting what was to come, but many aren't fully impressed with what was brought to the table this time around.
While a small lingering of his laid back lyrics still remain throughout the album, we also begin to see much more of the cockier side of him. This is apparent even 30 seconds into the opening track “All I want” with him saying, “I want bitches, I want cars, I dont give a ***, I want it all.” Though, he gives us the pleasure of a good balance of old and new Bobby Ray, with incorporation of tracks reminiscent of previous albums showing his ambition to succeed, making minor remarks on the corruption of government, and the ideal that even the most underground of artists can make mainstream hip hop bombshells. The secondary track “One Day” and track following, “Paper Route” most certainly reminds us of the B.o.B that exists behind the cocky cover. A now confident and unafraid lyricist expressing the poverty of his roots, and furthermore outright exposing the hidden nature of government officials, “And if we wanted hot water, we had to microwave it, and everyday the power cut off, but we'd tolerate it.” and, “You think you really know what's going on" They passing laws where they can run up in your own home, cameras on your laptop, tv, and your iphone.. the batteries don't come out, it means it's always on..”. In fact, a video was made for "Paper Route", but unlike other hits of his, or from any other popular artist, you won't be finding it on Vevo's Youtube channel.
In typical fashion though, pace is quickly changed to a more upbeat hip hop vibe featuring some other well know names, such as “Ready” with Future, “Throwback” backed by Chris Brown, and the latest radio hit, “Headband” with 2 Chainz. We even see an appearance from T.I and Juicy J in the finishing track, “We Still In This Bitch”. While not as up to par as assumed in terms of a fierce rap that B.o.B and his collaborating artists are capable of, the tracks do fair well as a filler and undoubtedly still keep a good beat and while repetitive, catchy choruses. Of course, in no album of Bobby Ray's do we ever solely hear hip hop, but more a combination of genres. A slight hip hop meets jazz feel shows itself in tracks like “Wide Open” and “Cranberry Moonwalk”. Later track, “Coastline”, even gives us a bit of a rock intro, which could be interpreted as a preview of what we can look forward to in a possible rock album hinted at in an interview with Billboard.
While some of us expected a much better production, based on his past albums and pure capability to exceed, overall Bobby Ray still continues to leave an impression on his listeners. We can only hope that his next album will show us what he can really do, and surpass the subpar impression left by Underground Luxury