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Atlanta's Most Hated No. 4: B.o.B

Rapper abandons hood clichés for pop success


MAJOR SHADE

"im so happy tyler dissed him" — "hmahmood786," YouTube


HATERADE

"I grew up in the cul-de-sac/Where the coke and dro is at," B.o.B rapped on the lost classic "Fuck You." The uninitiated might assume that B.o.B grew up in Epcot. From the sounds of it, any modicum of his plastic-spoon upbringing has long since been beaten out of him; these days, B.o.B is more interested in making kidz bop than making the trap go ham. Both The Adventures of Bobby Ray and this year's Strange Clouds take blind stabs at a kind of pop-trance-rock that no rapper could be expected to make work. They're skin-deep records with pretensions so vastly outsized that they make OutKast's Idlewild look tact by comparison. For B.o.B, the call of stadium status is reason enough to subtract the very qualities that once made him great (working-class pathos, a born intensity). Any remnant of the B.o.B that existed before 2010 is gone now, diluted beyond recognition. — M.T. Richards


PLAYERADE

The funny thing about B.o.B is that some of his biggest detractors were once his biggest fans. Perhaps it's to be expected with an artist whose internal conflict has consumed such a large part of his creative output. More than any rapper in recent history, his artistic evolution — from Bobby Ray to B.o.B to Bobby Ray and back — has been laid bare. But a big part of Ray's identity crisis came in reaction to the industry's attempt to typecast him as yet another crunk rapper from the A. And despite early hits like the hood anthem "Haterz Everywhere," B.o.B was never just another rapper from the A. Sure, he gets derided for being a crossover pop success now. But there was nothing popular about B.o.B brandishing a six-string or daring to belt out power-ballad hooks at Bankhead's Club Crucial in 2006, when Atlanta was the snap-n-trap capital of the world. To go against the lame-stream and brand himself a multi-instrumentalist with a gift for pop melodies at the risk of losing his hood credibility, well, that took the kind of balls most rappers only rap about. B.o.B's willingness to stay true to his parallel path — even in the face of haterz everywhere — actually makes him kinda gangsta, acoustic guitar and all. — Rodney Carmichael

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