Release Date: Dec 17, 2013
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop, Rap, Pop/Rock, Alternative Rap, Hardcore Rap, Pop-Rap
Swaggering has always been a key element in mainstream hip-hop, and during its golden age, the gold chains and money love were often talked about over the artistry, but B.o.B.'s third studio effort kicks off with a cloud-rap shopping spree called "All I Want," twisting the whole come-up concept into more of a "net worth" song. The rapper actually sounds dazzled by his account balance, and proud that he "took a dream and made it exist," and then one rollicking track later, "One Day" dreams "Well, who knows, maybe one day we'll have a little more/We'll finally shop somewhere else besides the corner store," as if this near-concept album is was financed by the National Retail Federation. B.o.B.
B.o.B is a gifted crossover artist – a fluid rapper, a fine singer and a skilled piano and guitar player who stuffs his albums with diverse cameos (Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Rivers Cuomo). But his lyrics have never been worthy of his wide-ranging sound or rich drawl. At times, his third LP goes for playalistic realism; "Paper Route" meditates on the perils of rapping about politics ("Look what happened to the Dixie Chicks").
At least B.o.B's downtempo 2010 radio hit, Airplanes, matched its melodramatic lyrics. Similarly, in 2012, So Good's jaunty piano jibed with its upbeat joie de vivre. You might hate them for being the most pop-radio form of pop-radio rap, but at least these songs made sense. The opening track on the Georgia rapper's third album, however, is perplexing to the point of hilarity.
B.o.B. seemed to be turning a corner on “Bombs Away,” the portentous intro to 2012’s Strange Clouds garnished with a monologue from none other than Morgan Freeman. It was the type of mad-at-the-world syllable cramming expected of a 23-year-old on his second album, albeit an unexpected jilt from the artist already perpetually perched atop Billboard charts with hooks from Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and Paramore’s Hayley Williams.
After facing a substantial amount of heat from rap fans for his past pop-oriented catalog, B.o.B was adamant to provide a balancing act on Underground Luxury.. On his third studio album, one certainly finds the Atlanta rapper migrating into new territories. Combining his earlier pop-esque records with more of an organic hip-hop sound, B.o.B reinvents himself on this LP all the while staying true to his original nature.
The multi-talented B.o.B sounds like he can’t figure out just what kind of artist he wants to be on his third record. The rapper/musician born Bobby Ray Simmons Jr. tries to recapture the pop success of his debut with smartly conceived hooky songs while also churning out overly familiar trap-informed grooves. The latter dilute his charm and vision.