x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

B.o.B: Underground Luxury

Moments of great reflection and insight are subsumed beneath great, thick, diamond-encrusted piles of rap rhetoric.

B.o.B.'s third album Underground Luxury
B.o.B.'s third album Underground Luxury


Underground Luxury



One of the great young hopes of Atlanta rap, B.o.B (aka Bobby Ray) has had a bit of a battle reconciling his eclectic tastes and references with the poppy production and mainstream aspirations of his recent output. If his third album is any indication, the mainstream wins out, with a few moments of great reflection and insight subsumed beneath terrific, thick, diamond-encrusted piles of rap rhetoric: the money, the women, the cars. It’s an album that purports to be a discourse on the challenges of a developing music career (“From a demo to a limo, from a limo to a Lambo,” as he declaims in the wistful One Day, one of the early standout tracks). But it ends up being an example of just the empty grandiosity it sets out to puncture. Interspersed with a pedestrian set of songs that employ the regular tropes of “hip-pop” – menacing synths, ponderous Kanye West-style melodics, overblown production, backslapping bragging of success, swag and power – are perceptive conversations on the nature of poverty. They merely serve to highlight the extent to which, on this record, B.o.B has underestimated the intelligence and integrity of both himself and his fans.

* Gemma Champ

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