The 21-year-old MC, singer and producer with two names -- B.o.B and Bobby Ray Simmons -- may feel like an overnight success since his debut album, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures Of Bobby Ray, opened at the top of the pop charts this week, seemingly out of nowhere. But this is hardly the case.A few months after graduating from ATL's Columbia High School in 2006, he landed a deal with Atlantic Records in a partnership with Jim Jonsin's Rebel Rock. Jonsin is the mastermind producer behind Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams," Lil' Wayne's "Lollipop," and T.I.'s "Whatever You Like." T.I.'s Grand Hustle label later entered the fold.While it has taken three-in-a-half years for B.o.B's album to get released, he has kept busy making a name for himself. The reaction to his popular mixtapes resulted in his feature on covers of leading urban magazines XXL and Vibe in 2008.But B.o.B's most recent success can be attributed to his song "Nothing On You." The pop-friendly alternative hip-hop ballad featuring Bruno Mars singing the catchy chorus was #1 for the past two weeks and has been embraced by urban, pop, and rock radio stations.
The song about being a hopeless romantic is followed by an equally infectious track, "Airplanes," which features Paramore's Haley Williams providing the hook. Eminem makes an appearance on a second version of the song, "Airplanes, Part II."T.I. has helped B.o.B find the balance between his hip-hop and alternative sounds. When B.o.B has strayed too far away from his hip-hop base, T.I. has offered his input. "'You got to bring it back to the hood some Bobby, you got to come back down to the earth and land,'" B.o.B laughs, quoting advice from T.I. in an interview with Urban News Network.Before adopting the stage name B.o.B, Bobby Ray would simply refer to himself as B. But one night, his friend Willie Joe inadvertently suggested a new moniker. "My name is really Bob. So he was like, ‘What's up B.o.B?' and I was like, ‘Dawg, you just gave me my name'" the rapper told DJBooth.net.
B.o.B grew up listening to fellow ATLiens OutKast and Goodie Mob, but credits DMX with helping him learn how to write raps. "I learned how to rap by writing out DMX's lyrics on It's Dark And Hell Is Hot," B.o.B told MTV. "I listened to it religiously. I was in the third grade at the time." Clearly, B.o.B's dedication and hard work have paid off in a big way.
B.o.B wasn't the only musician with good news this week. After suffering a brain hemorrhage a few weeks ago, Bret Michaels' doctor expressed that the Rock Of Love star would make a complete recovery.