Live Review: B.o.B — House of Blues, West Hollywood
Tue, 04 May 2010 09:11:01
B.o.B might be a rock star in disguise as the savior of hip hop.
Lil Wayne and a lot of rappers have tried to pull off the rocker thing, but they forget the level of nerdiness inherent in most modern rock. Our musical and social landscape truly couldn't birth the kind of bombast that epic arena rock flourishes in. In order to successfully rock these days, you've got to be more Weezer than Metallica. Guns N' Roses most likely couldn't "start" in 2010. People are looking for different things, and one of the things they're not looking for is, sadly and regrettably, a traditional record. Rock audiences are more dazzled by eccentric and catchy songs along a pop tip—singles with self-awareness.
However, B.o.B has the gusto to appeal to folks on both sides of the coin. The Atlanta rapper has got the uber catchy massive hit "Nothin' On You" but he's also made a record loaded with unique and undeniable rock-infused, boundary-bashing hip hop.
Last night at the West Hollywood House of Blues, B.o.B channeled Sublime, 311 and Slick Rick all the while conjuring a sound that was distinctly his. With a set list culled heavily from his undeniable debut, B.o.B Presents the Adventures of Bobby Ray, he lit up the sold out crowd before Lupe Fiasco's set. Crushing a spitfire verse over T.I.'s "On Top of the World," B.o.B's flow remained sharper than a razor and he perfectly pounded out each line with palpable charisma.
On standout cut, "Airplanes," he cut through a verse, brandishing fire in his eyes as he weaved around the beat using his verse almost like a guitar. He's got a street swagger, but he can appeal to the hipsters and tastemakers too. Donning glasses for "Generation Lost," he cut out all the music and tore through a fiery freestyle announcing, "Honestly, I don't even listen to rap cuz when I turn on the radio, out comes crap" and adding, "I can't be fake because God won't let me." With no music behind him, B.o.B's voice was just as captivating as it was backed by his band and DJ, showing the kid has got that traditional street poetic charm few rappers have.
Donning a Fender strat, he cranked out a catchy groove for "Don't Let Me Fall" over spacey ethereal production. His voice also hit flawlessly on the track's massive hook. B.o.B stayed in outer space for "Satellite" and "I'll Be In The Sky" both of which sparked a crowd-wide jump-a-long.
The rock cred shined at one crucial moment though. With a smile, B.o.B announced, "I have a special guest in the building…you might know him…"
The first inclination may be to think T.I. for a raucous rendition of "Bet I," but like any real rock star, B.o.B had a shockingly awesome surprise up his sleeve. After that little intro, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer sauntered out. Bespectacled and in a windbreaker, Cuomo belted out the hook for B.o.B's "Magic," punching the sky with true fervor and a beaming grin. The two of them volleyed hooks impeccably, and the song was a standout.
However, B.o.B's range was truly evinced on "Letters from Vietnam." Strapping on an acoustic guitar, he finger-picked a melodic intro a la "Going to California," while slowly crooning out a sad soldier's tale. Every great rock star needs his power ballad, and this was it.
Rap and rock need B.o.B!
Were you there?