B.o.B On Performing With Eminem, ‘Airplanes’ & Next Album
Definitely…it’s human nature. It’s not even about an artist versus label thing. You’re always going to have some form of struggle when you’re dealing with personal conflicts. But Lupe has had hit singles so it’s not like he’s struggling in that sense. I think it’s all human nature.
Your recent performance on the BET awards was very well received. Was it your call to have Keyshia Cole sing Hayley Williams’ part on “Airplanes”?
It was actually BET’s call. We knew since fans of the song wanted to hear Hayley we were planning on showing her part as a video. But in the end, we came to the decision that someone needed to perform, so BET suggested Keyshia. We didn’t have any other ideas so we went with it. For the people who were not fans of the song before the performance, they liked the fact that Keyshia Cole did it.
You also performed with Eminem. In the past you talked about how much of a fan you are of him as artist. Talk about that experience of sharing the stage with one of those rare MCs that have reached icon status.
When we started working in the studio for the “Airplanes [Part II]” things sort of grew from there. Eminem doesn’t work with a lot of people, so when he does, he has to feel the project. And that’s how I am as an artist. I really have to feel it. I think the reason why Eminem collaborated with me is because he related to the song. He took to the story I was telling on “Airplanes” and brought it home. But you know what? I don’t think it really sat in that I was performing onstage with Eminem because everything was happening so fast. It’s like, “Oh B.o.B, your song ‘Airplanes’ is in the top 10. Oh B.o.B, you were able to get Eminem on your remix…Did you know you were no. 1 in the country? By the way, you are performing with Em and you are nominated for a BET award…” Everything moves so fast that you never get the chance to sit and really think about what’s going on.
On “Airplanes” you mentioned how you want to retire from the music business because you were getting fed up with industry politics. Do you still feel that way given your current success?
[Laughs] Definitely not. My frustration was actually speaking from a place of artistry and not necessarily business. I could have easily just been a street performer and sat on the corner and play my guitar, but I wanted to grow. So, if you want your career to grow and reach critical mass, a lot of the politics that I’m speaking on in the song is actually necessary politics…but it’s still frustrating.
Hey, at least you’re honest.
But you know what? “Part II” was the original version of “Airplanes.” But we couldn’t shoot the video for that one because Eminem was recording and he didn’t want that track as his first look coming back out of the gate, which is understandable. But doing the new version was part of the politics I was speaking about, so I’m actually talking about the song as I’m in the actual song. That’s just one of many things in the industry that you have to deal with. As an artist you always want what you want.
So you didn’t want to record part II of “Airplanes”?
I wouldn’t say that I didn’t want to record it, but I would have rather kept the original. I don’t want to sour anyone who is a fan of the song.
You have a reputation as being pretty prolific in the recording studio. Are you already working on your next album?
My album is being worked on in the astral realm [Laughs]. It will precipitate on me when it’s time to record. But one thing I’m looking forward to is [playing more instruments] on my albums. It’s going to be great. I’m excited.