B.o.B. - Underground Luxury

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There's far more Luxury than Underground on B.o.B.'s third LP, making for a dispirited & surprising genuflect to the worst of commercialized Southern Club Rap.

B.o.B. seemed to be turning a corner on “Bombs Away,” the portentous intro to 2012’s Strange Clouds garnished with a monologue from none other than Morgan Freeman. It was the type of mad-at-the-world syllable cramming expected of a 23-year-old on his second album, albeit an unexpected jilt from the artist already perpetually perched atop Billboard charts with hooks from Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and Paramore’s Hayley Williams.

“And I ain’t too big on duality, but / You think you know me, you ain’t seen the half of me,” he rapped, eager to shed the Hip-Pop image that carried him through his radio-ready debut two years prior.

As it turns out, B.o.B. was huge on duality. Some of it worked to his advantage; stylistic duality cast him as one of mainstream Hip Hop’s most eclectic musicians, able to run through genres with aplomb while holding down collaborations with everyone from Lupe Fiasco to Janelle Monae. Lyrically, duality came back to hurt him. But it set the stage for Underground Luxury to make a discernible artistic jump: either a fleshing out of duality on an album with a dichotomous title, or a focus on quality, consistent output now that duality was battled and perhaps put to rest. When B.o.B described Underground Luxury as “a reintroduction of his roots” and “a lot edgier” on Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” last spring, it seemed that the latter would happen. It didn’t.

But that’s not what makes Underground Luxury a disappointing album. B.o.B. isn’t obligated to live up to his own standards of instrumentation or thematics, nor is he penalized for focusing more on pole dancers than his guitar. Rather, Underground Luxury is at best a blandly mediocre album because of an inexcusable lack of execution and a sudden loss of the charisma and creativity that got him to this point. Party Rap can of course still be creative—it’s inescapable for a dude that shares a label with Tip, Trae Tha Truth, Killer Mike and Travi$ Scott. But on the 10 or so songs that fall under the Luxury advent, there’s none of that to be found.

It’s damn near criminal to rhyme “bottles” with “models” in 2013, but B.o.B. does exactly that on the opening song “All I Want,” which uses a chant of “All I want is money, money, money, money” for a hook. Things don’t get much better: the Future-assisted “Ready” is catchy, but features lines like, “I do it daily, I do it daily / That’s my swag, you should pay me,” and “Cranberry Moon Walk” has him boasting about “banging that bitch in her baby maker.”

In today’s oversaturated market for strip club Rap, originality becomes the benchmark. Yet after three years of diverse instrumentation and vibrant double-times, B.o.B’s transition to a new subgenre is almost laughably predictable, and shows no semblance of the inventiveness he ascended on. He flounders on his own—monotonous synth and “East Side, West Side” callouts make “Back Me Up” one of the album’s most forgettable songs—but the biggest shortcomings of B.o.B.’s relaunch are highlighted when he partners up with club Rap’s veritable juggernauts. Hearing him unspool the lines, “Don’t be scared bitch, throw that back / This dick right here is cleaner than a hypochondriac” with chopped cadence on “Throwback” is ugly enough; it gets considerably worse when going against a smoother, more rhythmic Chris Brown in the next verse. “Picture-perfect body, that’s a Kodak there” from the lead single “HeadBand” falls flat. And comparatively, 2 Chainz’s feature forces a good laugh with punches like, “Middle school, I was getting head on a 10 speed.” It was nearly impossible to root against the kid spitting vaudevillian verses on “Magic” in 2010; it’s pretty much impossible to root for that same guy who now says, “Dick so big, call it four by four” on “Wide Open.”

Underground Luxury does have its rare moments. “Paper Route” sees B.o.B. marathoning dissenting bars over rising synth and crashing percussion, and “John Doe” is an honest attack on infidelity and addiction. But neither do enough to buoy an album that starts and ends with unimaginative materialism. In post-Macklemore mainstream, burdening the position of alternative Hip-Popper or even nice-guy rapper is weighty, and it’s hard to blame B.o.B. for wanting to acclimate himself to a different scene. But the startling lack of creativity he exercises in doing so makes Underground Luxury easy to write off, and the duality that once powered crossover appeal is now hard to detect.



    Not as good as his previous album. 2/5 stars.

  • Anonymous

    Damn he's too talented to make an album this bad

  • 2Hard4hiphop

    I thought this album was Hott!! Real easy 2 listen to, nice to listen to... nice production, nice sound.. Not the greatest album ever made... but who's is?..... Hot album!!

    • Crap

      Its by far my most listened to album of the year so far. Throw this in the car on at home with guest and nobody complains. i think he hits all targets and a very easy listen. people whom i've never expected to dig BOB love this album. its his best! not what i want from BOB but he's doing "drake" better than drake and getting 2 stars. hiphopdx has the most whack internet suburban dork editors

  • Dylan Black

    Nice album. Bandz.

  • Anonymous

    Good Album the beat sound nice it not very lyrical, but good to listen to when your bored.

  • Big Daddy Caine

    B.o.B. didn't bring it this time around. B.o.B.'s albums seem to be getting worse and worse. The album is about a dream of fame and luxury that became B.o.B.'s reality. Except he didn't know what came with the territory. However, he wouldn't trade it for the world. Yep, we've heard it all before. B.o.B. is a creative rapper that combines genres. I know he can make a better concept album than this. At least with a better story. The music isn't terrible, it just sounds average. Of course it sounds different than a lot of things out because that's B.o.B. On "Ready" he states he was top 5 mc, now he's #1. If you're going to make these claims, than please back it up with a great body of work.

  • Clark

    Get off his back!!! He is 24... Most of you were making minimum wage at that age. If you listen to his interviews about this album, he states that this is a "get by" album while he is working on his other projects."This project is a lot more effortless than anything because Ive really shown the full spectrum of what I can do musically, so now Im just having fun with it. Im 24 years old, so Im partying." I will be laughing when the exact opposite reviews hit in the next year when he drops his "all rock" album. He is still one of the most talented artists out there right now, so let him do his thing and trust the kid!

  • Come on

    At least he had his Pop Fans before and could get radio play and got paid, Now he;s got nothing no hip hop fans or R&B fans. Strange Clouds was much better than this pop or not.

  • Anonymous

    such a bad album coming from a b.o.b fan, he just getting to lazy coz he "made it"! go back to the "who the fuck is b.o.b" roots man original and creative. this shit is so disapointing 2 stars at best.

  • Kelvin Thomas

    This album fucking sucked. What the hell is wrong with B.o.B right now mayne? His first 2 albums were amazing, but this... I'd rather go buy a Lil Wayne album than listen to this shit. Fucking sell-out...

  • Justin Moss

    Good review. This album was horrible. It seems like B.o.B is taking the "sell-out" route instead of sticking to his real roots. Easily one of his worst works ever.

  • Anonymous

    nothing was underground about this album.his first album was beast.

  • Papi

    Why everybody bitchin its an ok release i dnt even listen to bob with the exception of this he's lyrically years ahead of other atlanta nd south rappers no one rappin lik this on trap beats

  • my nuts in your bitch mouth

    Man u got play this shit in a ride with a bitch in the front man its riding music not something 2 sit down and direct he's a fuckin artist much 4 than a Mc people. .geez awesome album thanks b.ob got me and my boys bumping your shit here in southern cali cause I'm a fly muthafucka....805 Oxnard ca.2 b exact

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    He could make an album 100 times better than this

  • Anonymous

    this fucking faggot talking about his swag and twerking and ratchet... fuck outta here BOB

  • Anonymous

    god rating. this was shit

  • Bordomsdeadly

    B.o.B used to be special, he was one of the rare rappers were skilled in both writing and rapping. This album is just stereotypical rap TRASH. There is nothing unique about this album. Maybe B.o.B will dream about another familiar melody before his next album, but if not his next CD won't be worth buying.

  • Anonymous

    It's not THAT bad...

  • Geemoney

    I don't know why..these niggas lames and I don't know why..lol

  • Geemoney

    Let me set the record straight...b.o.b. Goes hard..& they album is fye..y'all niggas need to stop being lame and don't be bandwagon niggas...it's called be futuristic..the hated on T.I.P. the same way when be first came out..catch up niggas

  • Anonymous

    Bob can Bob his head on my dik

  • seduction

    6 horrible songs in the album, cranberry moonwalk, headband, we still in this bitch, all i want, wide open, throwback

  • clizz

    Honestly don't understand everyone's disappointment with this album; I found it decently solid. Most reviews are acting as if they're expectations for Underground Luxury were sky high, while its release and promotion was very quiet compared to other albums. Regardless, the sound of this album is diverse and cohesive; and while his collaborations aren't as immediately recognized/accepted by the mainstream as his previous efforts (hence the title Underground Luxury)and his content is slightly more limited this time around it still remains a good listen 3.5/5

    • Anonymous

      In order to understand everyone's disappointment, it's important to examine B.o.B.'s first two ablums. In The Adventures of Bobby Ray and Strange Clouds, B.o.B was both original and diverse, showing talent as a rapper, guitar player, singer, and composer. In Underground Luxury, it seems Bobby Ray lost his uniqueness as well as his fire. To me, Underground Luxury represents B.o.B.'s shift to a mainstream hip hop artist, and frankly, it's a little hard to digest. Only "One Day", "Coastline", and "Nobody Told Me" from Underground Luxury bare any semblance to the artist that I remember. His content is far more limited than any of his other tracks. If he produces anymore albums like this, I don't think I'll be the only fan B.o.B loses.

  • Anonymous

    Damn, a 2??? I'm pretty sure I've never seen HipHopDX rate an album this low! I didn't listen to the album, but I knew my interest in B.o.B was gone after last year's mixtape. Hearing "HeadBands" on my Pandora station didn't do me any favors either.

  • Anonymous

    HHDX doesn't rate albums how they are, they rate albums against their expectations of the artist

  • Anonymous

    garbage this nigga has no fans lmao wack ass pop rapper

    • Fuck you faggot

      he has fans lil bitch! this album was horrible but it's because he was brainwashed by all these other artists

  • asher1985

    Haha this review is laughable. 2 stars?! Get outta here, this is a sold 4. One of the most enjoyable albums I've heard all year.

  • Tanner

    This is his best album to date. Better than any albums this year. The only albums that's close to this is Kanyes Yeezus, Pusha Ts My name is my name, Drakes NWTS,Eminems MMLP2, and Mac Miller WMWTSO

  • Anonymous

    this is pure shit! :D

  • jg

    This is the same guy who made that Beautiful Girls song with Bruno Mars? This nigga dun changed lol

  • Corey

    This album was solid, i would give it a 3.5. Haters just jump on the hate bandwagon and can't come up with their own opinions, you haters are sheep..

  • Anonymous

    Thought it was catchy, a little bit of a disappointment, but I really want to like B.o.B and I think that overall the album wasn't as garbage as everyone seems to think it is.

  • Anonymous

    Damn a 2 lmao. and flop of the year goes to!

  • Kwesi Aaron

    I'm sorry, did you say "post-Macklemore"... That's what we do? Operate with white bread as the standard for comparison???

  • bigl139

    Fuckin album is enjoyable...there's tracks 4 all types of moods & situations u in..niggas out here robbing 4 Jordans. .bumping this album with the fine asss hoes here in southern cali. .oxnard ca.2 b exact where we got bomb trees..thanks b.o.b..4 a goood album with my $

  • BUn

    i found this album to be catchy a'f, much better than strange clouds!

  • Anonymous

    bob is a pop rapper period

  • TaZzZ

    Reviews are opinions retard, there is no formula to objectively rate music, its an art form...

  • Brian

    Terrible review. People love to hate on B.o.B. You criticize him for lines such as "Dick so big, call it four by four" yet Kendrick is praised for his music in which his chorus on "Backseat Freestyle" is "Pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower, so I can fuck the world for 72 hours" Maybe you missed his Kendrick (How 2 Rap) where he calls out people like you. "My first mixtape, they all said I sounded like Dre. Then they said my album was pop, didn't really sound like the mixtape. Now I'm doing what I started, now they telling me I changed" Learn to put your opinion aside when reviewing music.

    • Anonymous

      It wasn't that complex. get off kendricks dick. He's dope, but fuck..

    • Brian

      You guys missed the point of that comment. I'm not hating on Kendrick so calm down. I'm saying it's unfair to judge the whole album off a few lines that may not be up to par - especially when the writer praises Chris Brown's rapping ability. The writer disregarded any content song B.o.B had (One Day, John Doe, Paper Route) and said that there's no creativity even though there's songs about government, drug addiction, twerking, reflecting on his successful career, etc. I'm not hating on Kendrick at all - I'm saying that this writer is terrible and put no thought into the review. PS B.o.B is one of the few artists that Eminem supports, along with Kendrick.

    • Anonymous

      ^^^ My thoughts exactly

    • Anonymous

      ^True. Kendrick was rapping as himself when he was a kid which shows a growing maturity throughout the album. So if you want to compare B.O.B's lyrics to the Backseat Freestyle, then he does raps like a immature kid Kendrick.

    • Anonymous

      You obviously never listened to the whole album. That entire song represents what his ignorance was as a kid, which he exposes later as why he decided to turn his life around.

    • Anonymous

      ^^Horrible comparison. Kendrick's line was more complex. Bob's line was just retarded.

  • Anonymous

    Damn B.o.B. fell the fuck off. Sad.

  • Come On

    The problem with B.O.B is he's says in one interview that rappers are too concerned about recognition, But then changes his style because he was considered too poppy? Everyone now knows that this is not B.O.B's style so now he looks like a try hard trying to get accepted, The haters won because you listened too them so much you change your style and it came back unnatural, Look at Diddy and Kanye how much heat they took when they were trying something different, And they didn't give a shit what ppl thought they made what they like and what was true to them and look at were they are now. B.O.B needs to figure out what type of artist and who he is not let ppl decide. He's going to have a difficult time in this game if he doesn't.

  • Anonymous

    bad album but better than a Lil Wayne or 2 Chainz album cause BOB spits better

  • Anonymous

    I listened to the album whenIt was streaming and I can't remember anything from it, so i'll agree with this review.

  • Mike Rotche

    Amazing Album!! Definitely not 2 stars.

  • kakid1

    Good album with my $ something u can play 4 the ladies 2 enjoy 2..

  • PauloMalo

    You could tell from the singles that this album wasn't going to be anything special.

  • Iain Fyfe

    Terrible review. Best album he has ever made with hits. Musically unreal, lyrically unreally. There is a but of everything on it. Personally the only song I skip past is John Doe, but this album is epic.

    • Anonymous

      @Steven Goldstein I agree with you 100% this is far from his best work I'd say its his worst for sure.

    • Steven Goldstein

      You're absolutely crazy. If anything, Underground Luxury is B.o.B.'s worst album to date and The Adventures of Bobby Ray is the best album he ever made.

  • x

    ha ha damn your lawyer just ethered this guy. If only he had been more creative with his woman-degrading wordplay

  • nightwalker

    wow a 2 thats harsh but i wont even be downloading after hearing the 2 chainz song

  • Anonymous

    Really DX 2 stars? Normally you praise ever southren hiphop album. Do you guys finally realize they we must get rid of those horrible dirty south rap including east and westcoast copycats