Who is B.o.B?
B.o.B is an American rapper, songwriter, singer, and record producer from Georgia, US. He was born in North Carolina and decided that he wanted to become a rapper when he was in sixth grade. While his parents were not very supportive of his career initially, they eventually allowed B.o.B to pursue his dream. After getting a keyboard as a gift, he started learning music on his own. By the time he was in elementary school, he had already started playing the trumpet in his school band. After spending years trying to showcase his music to a wider listener base, he finally got a breakthrough in 2007, when his underground single ‘Haterz Everywhere’ started gaining fame. In 2010, B.o.B released his debut album, ‘B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray,’ in association with ‘Atlantic Records.’ The album was a success. It featured major artists such as Bruno Mars and J. Cole. With his subsequent albums, B.o.B established a loyal fan base. His subsequent studio albums, ‘Stranger Clouds,’ ‘Underground Luxury,’ ‘Ether,’ and ‘The Upside Down,’ were moderately successful. However, B.o.B was criticized for maintaining the same style in all his songs. He gained attention by supporting the ‘Flat Earth Society,’ a small group of people that believes the Earth is flat.
Childhood & Early Life
B.o.B was born Bobby Ray Simmons Jr., in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on November 15, 1988. His family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, a few years after he was born. He developed a keen interest in music while in elementary school, and that was when he started playing music in front of a crowd. He played the trumpet till his high-school years.
His decision to build a career in music was not accepted by his parents. However, observing his passion and talent for music, his family decided to support him. He was gifted a keyboard in his early teens. He soon started making beats on his own. B.o.B attended the ‘Columbia High School’ and played the trumpet in the school band. At the same time, he made his own music and presented his talent to record labels.
Following a record deal that he earned when he was in ninth grade, B.o.B dropped out of school to devote his entire time to music. He was 14 years old when he sold his first beat to rap artist Citti. Around the same time, he teamed up with his cousin to form a duo, ‘The Klinic.’ When his cousin abandoned B.o.B and started attending college, B.o.B decided to pursue a solo career in music.
In his late teens, B.o.B hired a manager who started promoting him. He managed to acquire a deal for B.o.B to serve as the DJ in one of the most happening clubs in Atlanta. B.o.B made the best out of the opportunity by wooing the audience with his knowledge of hip-hop music. TJ Chapman, an industry mogul, was impressed when he heard his beats and tracked B.o.B down. This led B.o.B to sign a contract with ‘Atlantic Records,’ one of the biggest rap music labels in the country.
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Soon, B.o.B started gaining fame with his underground singles, such as ‘Haterz Everywhere.’ A few of his early singles, such as ‘I’ll be in the Sky’ and ‘Generation Lost,’ ranked regularly among the top 20 singles of the ‘Billboard’ charts. He made it big when he featured in rapper ‘T.I.’s highly successful album ‘Paper Trail.’
Between 2007 and 2008, B.o.B recorded and released half a dozen mixtapes. He then produced a track named ‘Auto-Tune’ for the game ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ In January 2010, B.o.B announced that the work on his debut studio album was almost over. To promote his upcoming debut album, B.o.B released a mixtape titled ‘May 25,’ which was a reference to the release date of his album.
The album was released as ‘B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray’ in late April 2010 and received positive reviews. It sold more than 84 thousand copies in the first week of its release and attained the first spot on the ‘Billboard 200’ chart in the first week itself. The album’s critical success earned B.o.B nominations for several awards, such as the ‘MTV Video Music Awards,’ the ‘BET Awards,’ and the ‘Teen Choice Awards.’ He then performed live at the ‘MTV Video Music Awards’ and was part of the lineup that included rappers such as Kanye West and Eminem.
He landed collaborative singles with Lil Wayne and Jessie J in 2011, while he worked on his second studio album. In November 2011, prior to the release of his sophomore album, he released a mixtape that featured guest appearances by Eminem, Meek Mill, and other rappers. The album ‘Strange Clouds’ was released in May 2012 and featured a number of big names such as Morgan Freeman, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Nelly, and Lil Wayne.
The lead single of the album, ‘Strange Clouds,’ had been released back in September 2011 and had received critical and commercial acclaim. Later, the album received positive to mixed reviews from critics. The presence of a number of big names from the industry made the album a commercial success. It sold more than 76 thousand copies in the first week of its release.
In December 2012, B.o.B showed a keen interest in rock music. He announced that he would work on a rock-influenced EP but also said that his next release would be a rap album. In May 2013, B.o.B released the lead single from his third album, ‘Underground Luxury,’ titled ‘HeadBand.’ Another single from the album, ‘Ready,’ was released in September. The album released in December and received moderately positive reviews.
The album debuted at number 22 on the ‘Billboard 200’ and sold 35 thousand copies in the first week. However, the album dropped to number 30 in its second week, and the sales continued to drop with each passing week.
In June 2014, B.o.B announced his very own record label imprint, ‘No Genre,’ which was a direct reference to one of his earlier mixtapes. Tora Woloshin was one of the very first musicians to be signed by ‘No Genre.’ In October 2014, B.o.B released a single titled ‘Not for Long.’
In early 2015, B.o.B established a partnership with rapper Tech N9ne and came up with a collaborative mixtape titled ‘Psycadelik Thoughtz,’ to create anticipation for his next album. Later that year, he self-released a mixtape titled ‘WATER.’ It became obvious that there was a rift between him and ‘Atlantic Records.’ B.o.B then publicly stated that he was being “suppressed” by the label.
By 2017, B.o.B abandoned ‘Atlantic Records’ and released his fourth studio album, ‘Ether,’ independently. The album received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and many reviewers noticed that he was finally back in form after years.
B.o.B is known to be highly explicit about his anti-establishment views. B.o.B has backed theories that stated that 9/11 was an inside job and those that stated the NASA moon landing was fake. His liberal views also had him raising his voice for social causes.
In January 2016, B.o.B openly expressed his views about the Earth being flat and not round. Neil deGrasse Tyson, a popular astrophysicist, replied to B.o.B on ‘Twitter’ citing a number of previous cases of the theory being debunked. B.o.B did not pay attention to Neil’s views and officially joined the ‘Flat Earth Society’ in 2016. He then launched a campaign to collect money to launch his own satellite to prove that the Earth was flat.
In 2014, B.o.B began dating musician Sevyn Streeter. The relationship did not last very long, and the couple parted ways in 2015. Following this, B.o.B included her in the lyrics of a few of his songs.