You Sold Out, Homie: B.O.B.
The release of B.O.B.’s long awaited/delayed debut album The Adventures Of Bobby Ray has inspired me to resurrect this short lived series from my glory days at that other site. Basically here’s the premise for those that missed the pilot: nobody in the hip hop media calls a sell out a sell out anymore. Go pick up a back issue of a rap magazine from the mid 90s. When a major artist sold out there were long think pieces on the societal and business ramifications on the hip hop world. I am bringing that the fuck back because sell out rap sucks.
My one time bossman at that same gig now claims that “we off” the sellout. When The Roots made that horrible record with The Fall Out Boys that the internet hated their drummer Questlove took a similar stance. That the we, the people, were beyond sellout. Now this logic is understandable in the I’ll still sell my song to Nike even though they have sweat shops or whatever sense. Hey, make money off of your art in anyway possible since nobody is paying for the physical product anymore. No shame in product placement. But the opening of this path makes the B.O.B./Fall Out Roots school of sell out all the more detestable today. Because there are so many more lanes for an artist to make off of art, Pure Art, in today’s landscape if your business is in order. Look at Wiz Khalifa or Stones Throw or hell The Roots themselves, who now play J Dilla instrumentals nightly on network TV. (Not to mention any number of upper echelon Pitchfork indie bands who have almost already guaranteed a lifetime of mid-sized venue touring off one or two buzz heavy and eccentric albums.) So the idea that it’s somehow admirable to churn out this sort of near Miley Cyrus tripe is truly offensive. Because lane carving has never been easier, especially for a talent of B.O.B.’s level. So save the Sprewell family values.
The Adventures Of B.O.B. isn’t simply a sell out record. It might be the most selling outest sell out rap album to ever sell out. It’s not just pop rap. It’s unabashed pop music that happens to have rapping on the verses. It’s pure Disney Radio shit, Now That’s What I Call Music music. It’s got that sick sort of slightly twisted upper lip Blink 182/Avril Lavigne brand of Hot Topic cool kid rebellion pop feel to it, which didn’t seem particularly rebellious or cool when I was actually a teenager. I can’t even wrap my head around the same guy that wrote smart and subtle songs like “Daddy” and “Life Of Sin” turning around and signing off on these ideas. What hurts the most is that dude is still rapping pretty well here. He’s just burying good rapping in bubblegum music. I’m trying to be kind. Or at least the kind of writer who can look at a well constructed pop record and admire it. I’m not qualified to make that call but I certainly can’t argue with numbers. Bob’s got two hits right now thanks to everything but his rapping. Fennessey seems to think that this turn is at worst essential (I disagree) and at best representative of the artist that B.O.B.’s always aspired to be. Which raises the questions: can pure intentions wash away the sell out stench? Does honesty negate tastelessness? Whatever the answer it needs to be said: you sold out, homie. Spend your earnings wisely.
Related: B.O.B. – Should Have Been The Album ++