The Evolution of Bobby Ray

27 Apr

With B.o.B’s debut album, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray, dropping today on Atlantic Records, we figured it was a good time to recap the ATLien’s career. He’s drawn comparisons to Andre 3000, and rightfully so—they share a nimble but distinctly Southern drawl, and B.o.B’s folk and techno influences run parallel to Three Stacks’s neo-soul and funk tendencies. But since his 2007 debut, Bobby Ray’s proved he’s a different beast altogether. Here’s a look back at his time in the industry:

Late 2007: Releases his debut, DJ Smallz-hosted mixtape Cloud 9, exposing the world to his melodic, genre-exploding brand of hip-hop fusion.
Key songs: Cloud 9, Sing my Song

2008: Releases three strong but non-essential mixtapes (The Future; Hi! My Name is B.o.B; and Who the F*#k is B.o.B?), and signs to Atlantic Records via Jim Jonsin’s Rebel Rock imprint. By March, T.I’s Grand Hustle Entertainment was onboard, amidst rumors that B.o.B had retired, which proved untrue.
Key songs: I’ll Be in the Sky, Generation Lost

2009: Changes his name to Bobby Ray, then makes the cover of XXL Magazine as part of their Freshman class of ’09. A new mixtape B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray, borrowing on T.I.’s dual-personality idea, has “B.o.B on the spitting, Bobby Ray on the singing.” Shake at 2DopeBoyz, impatient with delays on his debut album, compiles Should Have Been the First Album, which nicely packages his best material to this point.
Key songs: Lonely People (which samples the Beatles’ “Elanor Rigby”), On Top of the World (with Grand Hustle boss T.I.), ”

2010: Releases May 25th, a mixtape titled to remind listeners of his album’s originally slated release date. But the success of singles Airplanes and Nothin’ on You (still #1 on Billboard and iTunes) prompted Atlantic to bump the release up to today.

From this point, Bobby Ray could go anywhere. If you’re a fan, make sure to cop the album on iTunes or in stores now.

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