B.o.B aka Bobby Ray – May 25th (Mixtape Review)

bob bobby ray mixtape

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Dual personalities in Hip Hop have been around from the jump off. From Kool Keith to Redman to MF Doom, pseudonyms have allowed artists to express themselves in numerous ways, most often they are heralded for their uniqueness. Fast forward to 2010 and we find B.O.B aka Bobby Ray continuing with the trend. Having sprung forth in 2009 with the optimism-fuelled anthem ‘In The Sky’, May 25th aims to introduce the world to B.O.B’s dual personas – in addition to acting as a promotional tool as May 25th is the release date for his forthcoming album.

Hosted by DJ Drama, May 25th opens boldly with a rhyme over Mobb Deep’s ‘Shook Ones’. Yet the confidence he displays alongside his aggressive delivery ensures the classic instrumental doesn’t go to waste. ‘May 25th’ sees Mr Ray delve into two roles; the-in-your-face rapper and the Hip Hop/Soul crooner. Playing lyricist, B.O.B produces well crafted, rapid fire verses with an inkling of conscientious lines to mull over.

With the help of Asher Roth on ‘Fuck the Money’, B.O.B dwells on the volcanic frustrations which often consume artists, all with the help of some subtle soul provided by Kanye West’s production. But the Atlanta boy also mixes it up with the hardest when collaborating with J.Cole on ‘Gladiator’ as the two graduates of 2009 deliver epic verses to further push their credentials.

Whilst the MC in Bobby Ray remains street, his vocalist motif produces universal gems which are contagious after the first listen. On the electro rock ‘Out of Time’ and acoustic melody ‘The Rain’, B.O.B’s falsettos and dazzling delivery are reminiscent of Andre 3000’s work on The Love Below, which adds colour to the often grey matter which appears on May 25th.

A mixtape which introduces us to all the faces of Bobby Ray, May 25th highlights the potential heights which Mr B.O.B could reach. As rapper, his volatile street odes have the capacity to pry him into the top ten artists of 2010. As harmonising jazz singer, his sunny vocals are made for MTV spins and radio success, all with a sense of honesty in his make up. The question lies as to whether a satisfying compromise will be made between the distinctive figures or whether the transfusion of both characters into one will lead to a B.O.B lite version resulting in a figure paling to the refreshing artist found on this compilation.

–Henry Yanney

Download: B.o.B’s mixtape May 25th.