ATLANTA — Earlier this year, MTV News tapped B.o.B as one of the new wave of MCs that will bust into the mainstream with major impact in 2009. How ironic was it then, when rumors of his rap retirement abounded a couple of weeks ago? A blue-chip artist quits before he even releases an album?
"I didn't quit; I didn't quit anything. I've always had music in my life, at the top of my priority list," [artist id="1534347"]B.o.B[/artist] said Monday night at his home in Atlanta. In an exclusive sit down with MTV News, the multitalented up-and-comer said that the business of being in the rap game was so irritating, he hastily contemplated throwing his hands up at his career.
"It does get frustrating, trying to be as free as possible but at the same time working with people," he said about the art of dealing with such entities as record labels to get his music out. "At the end of the day, everything is relationships. I really had to understand that making music is great, but if you're music can't get anywhere and you can't cooperate with people, it'll just stay on your laptop. It'll stay on your computer. I'm really learning and growing as a person, aside from growing as an artist. They go hand in hand. Your talent doesn't hide your character and how you are. It always shows. That really was something I had to learn. In the process, I was applying a lot of pressure on myself to be something. To really live up to some type of hype."
B.o.B has a very healthy buzz. He's down with one of the hottest MCs in rap right now — [artist id="1225081"]T.I.[/artist] — and has shown that he's able to stand on his own with mixtapes and the single "I'll Be in the Sky." The 20-year-old did come to a revelation about himself and his career.
"I don't have to live up to this hype," he determined. "I can just make music. The music is always what speaks. It's never anything else. At the end of the day, if you don't have talent, no one's gonna care. That's where my focus is, I'm back to the basics.
"It's the 'music business,' " he continued. "The two sides, they work together, it's a love/ hate relationship. They work together for full 360, to get the music to the people. I'm willing to go that far just for the sake of these notes that we put together."
Although B.o.B did not disclose many specifics about what triggered his now-tempered frustration with the business side of the industry, he did point out that he realizes he's not alone. Every performer goes through some type of dissatisfaction at one point or another.
"It's all the rights of passage," B.o.B said. "Every artist has been through it. Any artist who says they haven't been through it, they're lying."
B.o.B doesn't have a concrete date for his debut LP, but he is still recording and contemplating an iTunes EP soon. In the meantime, B.o.B is trying out a whole new vibe. As you'll see in his upcoming performances, like his set at the SXSW Festival, he'll be playing with a live band called the Eastsiders and introducing an alter ego named "Bobby Ray."