B.o.B. keeps it real on his third studio album, "Underground Luxury".
Bobby Ray is often cited as one of today’s underrated rappers. In the past, his hip hop game has come under fire for infusing pop and rock into his music. He’s also been dubbed a “sell-out” many a time, for creating radio winners. On Underground Luxury, he fights the critics bringing more of a hip hop feel. B.o.B manages to deliver a good set of tracks here, as the album acts as a chapter to the novel of his growing discography.
The singles that were released earlier this year from Underground Luxury, “Headband” and “Ready” could easily have people misunderstood about the ideas behind this album. There are certainly an appropriate number of dope club bangers. It would be a crime not to mention “Throwback,” which surfaced on the internet sometime last month. With a feature from Chris Breezy, this track has a sick beat with an ill sample. The track is produced by Mr Bobby Ray himself, and it’s one track you have to “go crazy to”.
The real essence of what B.o.B is trying channel here is his personal struggle, something he’s never really addressed before on his past work:
“A lot of people didn't get to see the full spectrum of what I do. So it's kinda like a re-introduction of my roots. My album coming out this summer, Underground Luxury, is really telling the story from...I grew up with very humble beginnings” (Power 105).
This vibe is gathered on tracks such as “One Day”. The Hustle Gang rapper opens up about how little he had growing up, “And when they laid my momma of no it just didn't amount/I still remember how she looked when she walked into the house/But still she tried her best to show what was Christmas about/And if we wanted hot water we had to microwave it”. When you learn this from such tracks, other joints such as the opener, “All I Want” about striving for money, and all things shiny make much more sense.
From this album you really get the impression that B.o.B has now come into his own with his music and identity in hip hop. The reflective track “John Doe” which talks about addiction, has real depth alongside the beautiful vocals of Priscilla Renea on the hook. On “Paper Route”, we also get a chance to hear Ray spit about politics and conspiracy. Here, B.o.B is the realest we have ever heard him.
This won’t be the best album you’ve heard this year, but it’s a dynamic, and mostly solid effort. It may require a few listens, but overall, it's definitely some easy listening. It takes you from lows to highs with a carefully balanced mix, and there are definitely some standout tracks you shouldn’t sleep on.