By Sarah Godfrey
It would have made sense for Decatur rapper-singer B.o.B. to use his debut major-label CD, "B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray," as a showcase for his solo skills, a chance for the mix-tape star to let the world know he can hold down an entire studio album all by himself.
Instead, he treats "The Adventures of Bobby Ray" as a collaborative party, seemingly using his status as the Next Big Thing to call on all of his favorite artists: T.I., Rivers Cuomo, Paramore's Hayley Williams and Lupe Fiasco, to name a few. B.o.B. goes it alone on only four tracks, but the cameos augment rather than overwhelm his talents. B.o.B., who produced most of the album, thoughtfully creates tracks to suit the strengths of each guest, with the one constant being his ability to adapt to almost any style.
(Not settling on a single sound, after the jump.)
On album standout "The Kids," B.o.B. and Janelle Monáe drop non-preachy social commentary over a sample of Vampire Weekend's "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance." With "Bet I," featuring T.I., B.o.B. reminds fans that, despite his pop and indie-rock leanings, he's still a lyrical rap monster, and on "Airplanes (Part II)," Bobby Ray and Eminem imagine what life would be like if they'd never embarked on rap careers.
"Nothin' on You," featuring Bruno Mars, has positively flooded radio, and for those who once loved it but have tired of hearing it, B.o.B. provides the sonically and thematically similar "Lovelier Than You," another sweet, sentimental relationship ode.
The album never settles on a single sound: B.o.B. seems to travel wherever his friends and his mood take him - but that's exactly how an adventure should be.
Recommended tracks: "Airplanes II," "Bet I," "The Kids," "Lovelier Than You"