B.o.B Talks 2014 Plans, Launching Record Label, Jewelry Line & World Tour [Exclusive Interview]
B.o.B doesn't make New Year's resolutions. It's not that he's above the practice but his motivation doesn't start on the first day of the year. “I’m not really into resolutions," he tells The Boombox. "I do that year-round, but 2014, I’m definitely gonna get at the acting, the tour and my jewelry line -- that’ll be my main focus. I’ll actually be in an episode of [VH1's] ‘Single Ladies’ and an episode of ‘The Game.’”
“In one of the roles, I’m giving my guy friend advice on how to deal with girls," he shares. So is 25-year-old Bobby Ray "that friend" in everyday instances? Does he give dating tips to members of his circle? “Nah, man," the southern MC says with a laugh. "I hang around a bunch of OGs so I’m always learning.”
In fact, B.o.B's been learning lessons from those more experienced than him since the start of his career, just over six years ago. 'Cloud 9' was actually his second mixtape, but that was the one that pushed the Decatur, Ga., native into mainstream consciousness, prepping him for the uber-success that was to come in the following years. Signing with T.I.'s Grand Hustle label didn't hurt either. From big-name collaborations to millions of records sold, Bobby Ray set his sights on Cloud 9 and really made it there.
“I think understanding different cultures and different walks of life, different areas, I think that enables me to collaborate with people like a Trae Tha Truth, or a Taylor Swift, or a Nicki Minaj," B.o.B reveals. "It makes me appreciate where people come from to be able to speak to their audience.”
Watch B.o.B.'s 'Headband' Video Feat. 2 Chainz
On his latest LP, 'Underground Luxury,' the multi-talented rapper flexes his executive producer muscle for the very first time and it shows. The album sounds like everything B.o.B. has claimed as inspiration for years. “Being as how this is the first time I executive-produced, it just made it even more special for me," says the singer-songwriter. "And I got really personal on this one too -- that was a standout moment.”
The album showcases a very distinct presence of youthfulness, southern strip club bump and tasteful variety. With so many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to the recording process, the decision for him to lead his own project wasn't met with opposition. “It was never a battle I had to fight," he shares. "It kinda just happened naturally because I just wanna go for the best production, whether it comes from me or somebody else but on this album, the most natural songs came from me. There were a lot of urban songs that were produced by me. It was me, my own hands, produced in my basement, just jammin’.”
“It’s always a different type of response from different people," the 'Ready' creator says about the reception so far. "Some people really love it, others kinda like it... But as with everything in life, there’ll be different opinions but for the most part, it’s my best album. My favorite album. It’s the one where I’ve had the most fun while recording.”
Last year was good to B.o.B, so good that he's planning on starting his own imprint in the coming months, following in the footsteps of some of the aforementioned OGs in his circle. Although the label doesn't have a name just yet, he says he has the execution all planned out. “You gotta be confident always," the 25-year-old says airily. "I think now, I know enough that I know what to do: you kinda have to find a balance between being a businessman and making it a passion project."
"You wanna lean towards the passion side," he adds, smiling. "Because you really have to be into it to dedicate your time and money and energy to it. It’s an investment so you have to be passionate about it.”
Another goal in the next year is the world tour that is continually coming together as the weeks go on. Once every couple of days, the 'Headband' rhymer thinks of another spot he wants to add to the list of dates. "It’s gonna be a long tour," B.o.B discloses excitedly. "I’m trying to go every place... I really wanna go to Australia, then Europe. I can’t wait to go to Dublin and Toyko."
"Dublin, man," he continues, laughing. "It’s like the livest place I’ve ever been. I don’t know what’s in the water over there but they ‘bout that life.”
Between touring, acting and starting an imprint, Bobby will somehow find the time to dedicate to his newest hobby -- making jewelry. He is a creative, after all. "It all started when I found these amazing antique Indian beads," he explains. "I liked how they looked so I just started making my own neckpieces. They’re actually on my Instagram if people wanna look at them. It comes natural to me, almost like meditation and it turned out pretty good to where people were like, ‘You know what?’ You should just do it!”
Seems that B.o.B. already has the blueprint and the tools to make 2014 a banner year -- even with all of the accomplishments made in the last 12 months. One out-of-the-ordinary achievement that was crossed off his list had little to do with music. “You know what felt great? Organizing my closet," he admits with a grin. "I took all this time, stepped back, looked at it and I said, ‘This is good.’"
Watch B.o.B.'s 'Ready' Video Feat. Future