Bobby Ray Simmons is not to be pigeonholed.
One can't define his music in a single genre, he can do it all. He raps, sings, plays guitar, plays piano, plays trumpet and produces. He mixes elements of hip-hop, rock, reggae and various others into his 12-track introduction to the world.
His highly anticipated debut album, "B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray" hit the shelves on April 27 after being pushed up from its original May 25 release date due to the success of his chart-topping lead single, "Nothing on You."
The album features guest appearances from rap's elite (Eminem, T.I. and Lupe Fiasco) as well as big name singers from the pop and rock worlds (Hayley Williams of Paramore and Weezer's Rivers Cuomo).
The album kicks off with the hard-hitting 808s and rolling keys of the self-produced "Don't Let Me Fall," followed by "Nothing on You" and the Lupe Fiasco assisted "Past My Shades."
Ray's Adventures heavily features a pop-oriented sound, which can be a turn-off to pure hip-hop fans. The poppiness of tracks 7-9 ("Kids," "Magic" and "Fame") can be a little grating for hip hop listeners. "Kids" uses an awkward interpolation of Vampire Weekend's "the Kids Don't Stand a Chance," which doesn't do the original justice. "Magic" features an extremely radio-friendly hook provided Rivers Cuomo. And "Fame" features some of the best rapping on the disc, but is lost in the sing-song hook and unnecessary chant.
The sole traditional hip-hop song on the album, "Bet I," features guest verses from label-mates T.I. and Playboy Tre. It sounds a little out of place and would have been better suited for one of Ray's mixtapes.
While the album isn't short of catchy, feel-good songs perfect for the summer, B.o.B's subject matter throughout is pretty unoriginal and superficial. The record may be lacking in any lyrical dexterity and there aren't any stand-out bad songs to be found. It is a very fun, laid-back record that one would think a 21-year old would make. Bobby Ray simply crafted an excellent pop record.
7 out of 10 Beets.