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Album Review | HIP-HOP

B.o.B., ‘Underground Luxury’

The multi-talented B.o.B sounds like he can’t figure out just what kind of artist he wants to be on his third record. The rapper/musician born Bobby Ray Simmons Jr. tries to recapture the pop success of his debut with smartly conceived hooky songs while also churning out overly familiar trap-informed grooves. The latter dilute his charm and vision. When he focuses on spinning his autobiographical tales about his early struggles and the lessons of success over tightly arranged melodic tracks (“Nobody Told Me,” “Paper Route”) he hits the mark. Too often he seems hell-bent on denying the hip-pop instincts that made him a star with “Airplanes” by venturing into territory his solid but unspectacular rhyme skills can’t support. B.o.B gets lost in his collaborations as “HeadBand,” featuring 2 Chainz, merely sounds like a very bad Chainz throwaway. Future dominates “Ready,” making his host seem invisible. A dumbed-down stripper anthem like “Wide Open” is redundant and antithetical to the kind of music (“John Doe”) that makes B.o.B interesting. (Out now)

ESSENTIAL “John Doe”

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