Thursday, July 29, 2010
B.o.B: Guardian UK Feature
'This is the gateway," says an animated Bobby Ray Simmons Jr, rearranging glasses of water on a table in a central London hotel to represent a portal. The rapper, already a veteran at 21, is trying to explain why his career to date has been defined by the tussle between his experimental inclinations and commercial realities, between going his own way and following the gangs/guns/girls crowd. And in so doing he is providing an object lesson in how hip-hop – once a music defined by its resistance to compromise – operates as an increasingly dysfunctional business in 2010.
"You have everybody filing in," he continues, marching a pepper pot and a salt cellar between the drinks to represent the rappers who are content to simply supply music to the mainstream market. "And it's easy, because it's just straight up-and-down, everybody followin' the format. But when you wanna do something different, you have to go all the way around …" At which point Simmons picks up his own drink – an Earl Grey Martini, rather than the rapper stereotype of Moët or brandy – and sweeps it to the left, around the side of the gateway.
"And a lot o' people don't wanna do that," he smiles. "They'd rather just go straight in, rather have a surefire way of makin' it as an artist. I kinda started that way, but it was like, 'Aargh! I just can't do it!' I can't. I can't conform, it's not in my nature. So it took me a long time."
Read the full feature here:
B.o.B - Guardian UK