Bobbie Ray Simmons, aka rapper B.o.B, hit his stride early. Growing up on the east side of Atlanta, the teen wannabe started rapping at age 13 and shortly thereafter formed a production duo dubbed the Klinic with his cousin.
In 2006, the then-16-year-old slipped in the back door of an Atlanta rap club and wowed the audience with a self-produced ode. One of those in the crowd was industry veteran TJ Chapman. Within a month, Simmons was signed with Atlantic subsidiary Rebel Rock.
Just like that, B.o.B was born. When asked about his acronymic moniker, Simmons made things simple for People: “Bob is short for Bobby, and I made it B.o.B to give it style.”
His first single for Atlantic, “Haterz Everywhere” reached the Top 5 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop chart. Before long, pundits were calling him an “artist to watch.” Now, his breakthrough No. 1, “Nothin’ on You,” features the smooth tenor of guest contributor Bruno Mars and a mash-up of jazzy piano, funky beats and hip-hop lyrics that soulfully lays out the singer’s claim that he’s renounced his formerly wild ways after finding the lady of his dreams.
“Beautiful girls all over the world/I could be chasing but my time would be wasted,” we hear. “They got nothin’ on you, baby/Nothin’ on you, baby.” The video contrasts a revolving montage of pretty ladies—some wearing tight, revealing clothes—with the one B.o.B has chosen.
How perfectly amazing is this newest love? “Baby you the whole package/Plus you pay your taxes/And you keep it real/While them others stay plastic/ … You always steal the show/And just like that, girl, you got me froze/Like a Nintendo 64.”
Most of these corny lyrics steer around typical hip-hop excesses. But not all of them do. One verse about the rapper’s prodigal past appropriates a mild profanity (“Regardless of the things in my past that I’ve done/Most of it really was for the h‑‑‑ of the fun/On a carousel, so around I spun/With no direction, just tryna get some”). And B.o.B also makes an appreciative reference to his girl shedding her clothes (“And you wild [or perhaps “you wow”] when you ain’t got nothin’ on.”
So audio and video memories of his skirt-chasing days, along with a reference to a sexual relationship in the present end up modulating the mood of B.o.B’s otherwise lighthearted hip-hop ode to infatuation.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.