In the seven years since starting his hip-hop career, B.o.B has already released four mix tapes and three full length albums, and he still has an all-rock album in the works. He’s collaborated with Bruno Mars, Hayley Williams of Paramore and even Morgan Freeman, among others, and, at 26, has been nominated for six Grammys, including “Record of the Year.”
amNewYork caught up with the emcee, also known as Bobby Ray, to talk about the whirlwind start to his career, how he finds collaborators and the influence of hometown heroes in his work.
Three albums in four years, all before you turned 26. How do you keep this going without getting burned out?
Basically, we’re starting a new label, trying to do something unique in terms of how we do it. We’re going to do it where it’s not defined by genre. Any kind of music can come from this label, and in any type of format. ? You’ve always got to switch it up. You can’t get monotonous.
Your songs have featured everyone from Juicy J to Taylor Swift to Morgan Freeman. What do you look for in a collaborator?
You’ve got to find that sweet spot with the chemistry. Like the singer-rapper collaboration — that’s always been a part of hip-hop, going back to sampling the old R&B records and throwing hip-hop drums on it. That’s how a song like “Airplanes” came about. You’ve got to find that sweet spot where two different things can come together and be dope. I don’t really go scavenger hunting for stuff. I just let it come to me. I hear [people] on elevators, walking down the street, anywhere.
You’re from Atlanta and you’ve worked with both Andre 3000 and Big Boi on songs before. Can you describe what this Outkast reunion has meant to you?
There’s something special about that. Something like that doesn’t happen every day, or even every generation. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. There will never be another Beatles or Michael Jackson. Once the seal has been cracked, then that’s it. To be a part of that, to see that, is just amazing.
IF YOU GO: B.o.B brings his “No Genre” tour to Irving Plaza on November 24 at 7 p.m., 17 Irving Pl., 212-777-6800, $47.