The ATLien B.o.B. has landed. After taking his fans through the Adventures of Bobby Ray and Strange Clouds, the Grand Hustle signee is throwing his middle fingers in the air on his new mixtape Fuck Em We Ball. The newly turned 24-year-old chopped it up with VIBE about working with Taylor Swift, tackling new genres, dancing to his own songs on the video game The Hip Hop Dance Experience. and more.
VIBE: Congrats on being the only artist to place two tracks "So Good" and "Airplanes" on the The Hip Hop Dance Experience. Have you tried dancing to them in the video game?
B.o.B.: I’ve tried to “So Good,” but haven’t to “Airplanes” yet. I actually watched two of my dancers perform to “Airplanes."
Were you able to get through it?
I scored, let’s just say that.
Does the game make it easy to follow along with or do you need Michael Jackson skills?
Nah, You don’t need to be a Michael Jackson or a Chris Brown to play this game but I would say it really makes you feel like you’re in a music video, like you're performing it for real. They really took the time to pay attention to the artists and their videos for the songs they put in the game.
Were there other songs that you tried to dance to?
Yeah, I tried dancing to Chris Brown “Look at Me Now.”
You were being overambitious huh?
(Laughs) It was on rookie mode. It really looked like the set on the video. It's pretty accurate.
Serious question. Do you know how to “Gangnam Style?”
(Laughs) No I don’t. I don’t know how to Gangnam Style. I’ve been seeing the phenomenon take the world by storm. I’ve never tried it myself but I’m gonna have to check that out.
This past summer, you collaborated with Taylor Swift. How did that come about?
Taylor Swift was on tour and she invited a lot of her hip-hop friends on stage with her. She stopped in Atlanta and invited me, Grand Hustle and Usher, but I wasn’t there. She still wanted to reach out and she brought me out to Dallas. I just had a record that was good and I thought, 'Let me just play this for her and see of if she likes it.' I played ["Both Of Us"] for her and before the verse even dropped, her eyes were watering up. She was like “Yes, I wanna be a part of this song.” And the rest is history.
The girl makes hits from heartbreak. Did you learn how to write about your exes better after working with Taylor?
(Laughs) Well I’ll tell you this. I learned a lot about appreciating the crowd better after watching her perform. At her shows, it's crazy. She’s really in tune with her fans. It’s almost like she has a telepathic connection with them.
Were you a fan of hers before you heard the music?
I love her music. "Mean’’ is my favorite record from her. I heard her music before because she was so popular but when I heard “Mean” I was like whoa. Even though it was a country song, it was still just a great song period. Every artist has one of those songs where you’re not a fan of the music, but you just like it. Kinda like R.Kelly with Ï Believe I Can Fly” and [Mims'] “Party Like A Rockstar.” It’s just they're so good.
You think you’ll try out country music anytime soon?
You know what? I play the guitar so I don’t know where it will take me. However it sounds, I will be the only one with that sound.
What about EDM? A lot of hip-hop artists are on that wave right now.
If I ever did an EDM song, it’s gonna be like the best [but] it would have to come out naturally. I would never attempt to make a fall on the floor (imitates EDM beat). If you’ve known I did that, then I’ve gone overboard.
Would you call on a Diplo or AfroJack-type to do this?
I would wanna work with a Diplo, but I would wanna do it my way. I’d probably collaborate with a producer like Mi-K. They do a lot of stuff with Travis Porter, and we’re from the same city so that will bring the bridges together.
So no hope for EDM on your new mixtape Fuck Em We Ball?
No, there’s nothing like that.
You also got to work with Nicki Minaj on “Out of My Mind.” Is she really insane to work with?
She’s actually really professional. When you have artists of that caliber, it’s like a real Hollywood movie on set. There was a lot of acting that was involved in the taping of that video. It doesn’t look like it 'cause we were performing, but because of the content of the song and the treatments of the video, we really had to channel our inner actors for that video.
Were you intimidated by the size of her backside?
B: Nah, I, um... it was inviting. It was a great place to be. It was a great day to be me that day.
Back to your new mixtape. Where did the inspiration for the title come from?
I got it from a line in Snow On The Bluff. It's a movie based in Atlanta, and it’s about these college kids who go to the hood, looking for some ecstasy and they’re taping the whole thing then they get robbed. I put it up there with movies like Slumdog Millionaire, City of God, and Shottas. You don’t know what’s real and what’s fake. One of the characters [in Snow On Tha Bluff] says “Fuck em, we ball” and it really just stuck with me. That’s where I’m at right now in my career, ‘Fuck em, I’m doing what I wanna do.’ I’m not conforming.
What's gonna separate this project from the material we've already heard from you?
This (mixtape) is really me getting back to my roots and where I started, the creative zone I was in, the effortlessness in the music I made and how natural it was. It also gives people a chance for people to see me in that light, to see the rawness I possess in all my mixtapes and everything I did before The Misadventures of Bobby Ray, Strange Clouds and the worldwide success. It kinda just brings everything back home. At the end of the day, it's still amazing music that I’m very excited about putting out there.
Can you talk a little bit about the collaborations, producers and artists-wise that we’ll be seeing on this mixtape?
I do a lot of production myself, and I wanna say about half [of it is mine on this project]. I collaborated with the producer who did “Ray Bans” and a new producer, named Osinachi Nwaneri, who’s gonna be one of the best producers out there. Other than that, it’s all me and it’s just a great project. It's projects like these when you’re not under a microscope, there’s no label involved and you kinda do what you wanna do, it comes out so free.
On your Twitter, there's a pic of you and Iggy Azalea working together. Is this record gonna be on your mixtape?
You know, it’s too early to tell. You never know. We just recording music and whatever comes out the oven is gonna be delicious.
A collaboration that is happening for sure is the one with you, T.I, and Kendrick Lamar on Tip's Trouble Man album called "Somebody You Used To Know" that samples the Gotye joint. How did that end up coming about?
It was a concept that Tip had started and it was about a girl he used to know. That’s how all of our stories are but the way we tell our stories is just amazing. I’m not saying that because I’m on the song, but it’s a classic hip-hop song. Every verse is captivating, and I think it’s good to have a good concept song and a good story, especially from Tip to Kendrick Lamar. The combination of them and the story is just a win for hip-hop.
Did you try to channel you inner Taylor Swift for this one?
Ha! (laughs) Nah, I channeled my inner Tupac and my inner Eminem for this one.
Does the girl that you wrote about know this is for her?
Well you know, hit dog or holler. If the shoe fits, she gon’ wear it!
Speaking of Kendrick, have you listened to his album?
Oh yeah, I actually did. He did a really good job at making it sound organic. It doesn’t sound like a bunch of label reps and A&Rs were hovering over it, trying to make it something it didn’t need to be. He did a really good job of giving the people what they fell in love with Kendrick Lamar for.
Do you think that good kid, m.A.A.d city can be labeled a classic hip-hop album?
Absolutely because it's a really cohesive project. Each song goes with the next song and it flows; it’s effortless. He really brings you into his world. That’s what I really liked about the album.
Are there any other artists you're hoping to get in the studio with?
I’m a fan of Bjork. I love her. She literally does what she wants. If I collaborated with that type of attitude that type of energy, something amazing would come out.
Do you have any side projects lined up?
I’m pretty much continuing to venture off into the world of acting. I’ve been reading some scripts, hip-hop stories. I can’t really get into specifics since I have to keep things confidential.
Do you have any acting experience?
I was in a movie called Mahogany that came out two years ago. I like cameras so I think that me and acting would get along really well. And other than that I’m going to Hong King next year. I’m going to what will be the equivalent to the Chinese Grammys, like a billion people watch it so that’s going to be a really big event. I’m gonna be performing “Nothin on You.”
Bruno Mars is also making a comeback. Any chance for a “Nothin on You” part two?
You never know! And if I did, I’m not gonna say nothing. I’m just gonna drop it.
The Hip Hop Dance Experience is available now for Kinect, XBOX, and Nintendo Wii. F*ck Em We Ball available for stream and download below.