EXCLUSIVE: B.O.B. Hosts Private Listening Event, Discusses Collab With Andre 3000 + NEW Album
A few nights ago, Sound-Savvy was invited to and attended a private listening session for B.O.B., a chance to preview some brand new music from his forthcoming sophomore album “Strange Clouds“. The Atlanta-native played 8 songs from the album for a private audience at ATL’s Tree Sounds studio, then sat down with me to talk about the new album (watch the full interview below).
One of the tracks premiered was “Play The Guitar”, B.O.B.’s ode to his instrument of choice. He describes the song as one that expresses his “love for music and love for the guitar”. The song features the rumored guest appearance by the infamous Andre 3000. Of the song, B.O.B. says “I feel like it shows people that we are two different artists and we actually do sound different and have our own styles.
“Not to say that I wasn’t influenced by Outkast and Andre, but I feel like it’s a ‘pass-the-torch’ type of moment. He really gave me a lot of love on the feature and I’m looking forward to hearing what people have to say about it.” A lot has changed in the past few years for the Grammy-nominated musician, so I inquired about how he approached this album differently from his previous projects:
“I feel like I had to combine the way I approached a mixtape AND an album. With the Adventures of Bobby Ray, it was a very condensed version with only 11-12 tracks. I wanted to be able to show people who fell in love with the album AND the people who fell in love with the mixtapes, from Cloud 9 to The Adventures of Bobby Ray, I wanted to make music for those fans.” That said, he stressed the importance of remaining true to himself and always use his voice and candor to present his ideas and deliver a message. “My dad always says “Now you wanna show people you know music, but pretty soon you’re gonna wanna show people that you know people. And I feel like this album is more on that tip but it still has even better and more mature musicality.”
Here’s my interview with the homie B.O.B., check it out! And below, get my full synopsis on the 8 songs I heard from Strange Clouds. The album is scheduled for release in March 2012!
- Strange Clouds – This is the first single, produced by Dr. Luke, who also produced B.O.B.’s earlier hit, ‘Magic’. “The energy captured me as an MC”. Hard-hitting single, it’s in rotation already.
- The second song played is the upcoming single, entitled ‘Play The Guitar’. The hook features a sample of T.I.’s verse from Drake’s ‘Fancy’ and there’s also a pretty major guest appearance by the one and only Andre 3000. B.O.B. introduced this one with his origins on playing the guitar, which he picked up after urges from his brother. The beat on this is CRAZY, and of course the guitars are ruling elements. We were also informed that Andre 3000 actually plays the guitar on the track towards the ending. This will be a hit!
- B.O.B. played an incomplete version of ‘5 On The Kush’, it hadn’t been mixed or mastered but the vocals didn’t sound too rough. This track features Big K.R.I.T. and one other undisclosed rapper whose verse we didn’t get to hear. He describes this very accurately as a ‘Good Southern hip-hop song…’. It had a very old school sounding, slow beat with a southern thump to it. This one’s a banger for the car.
- This next one was my favorite of all the songs played, it’s called ‘So Hard To Breathe’ and B.O.B. calls this one a “sibling or sequel to ‘Don’t Let Me Fall’”. He produced this one, and wrote the hook along with Sean Garrett. It opened with an solemn acoustic guitar intro and progresses into a soaring electric guitar backing. Lyrically, it has a tone that’s both introspective and retrospective of his career thus far and his life before stardom. He informed us that this song is a favorite of both he and his team. I can definitely hear why.
- Arenas – feat. T.I. a real stadium sounding record, inspired by his live performances and his penchant for interacting with his fans in concert. He says he wanted to make “something for the fans to sing along to at the shows”. Sure enough, towards the end of the song, one glance around the room told me that his plan had worked: a large part of the audience was mouthing the hook. Catchy and not too complicated.
- Before playing ‘MJ’, his collab with St. Louis native Nelly, B.O.B. reminds the audience that he’s “always been the type of artist to say how I feel” and that the album “really shows all sides of me.” Nelly’s flow is pretty dope on this one and the song’s title makes a reference to Michael Jordan, with several references to ballin.
- Ryan Tedder worked with B.O.B. on ‘So Good’, which the rapper describes as a ‘victory lap song with a big sound that a lot of people will gravitate towards’. In concept and sonically (probably due to Tedder) it reminds me of OneRepublic’s current single ‘Good Life’ but has quite a few differences. Not a rip by any means. I could hear it as a feel-good summer single for the pop stations.
- So Good was supposed to be the final song, but a request from a female in the audience to hear a “record for the ladies” prompted B.O.B. to play ‘Circles’. It wasn’t one of the strongest, but it wasn’t a dud either. It garnered high praise and applause from the ladies who eagerly let him know they liked it.
Strange Clouds will be the next chapter in what B.O.B. says is an ongoing conversations between himself, his music and his fans – another accurate description. Content-wise it was very diverse and dynamic, much like the first album. The production mostly sounds very organic, not over-produced, and it’s very progressive. With the exception of the Tedder track (So Good) I couldn’t compare any of the music we heard to anything currently in rotation. He’s recorded about 70 songs, none of these are guaranteed to make the album, but if I had to make suggestions for definite picks: ‘5 On The Kush’, Play The Guitar, So Hard To Breathe, Arenas and of course Strange Clouds.