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Last week, B.o.B. dropped his fourth studio album, Psycadelik Thoughtz, out of nowhere and alluded to the fact that surprise albums have become the new go-to in the world of hip-hop releases. The 11-track effort entails a more trippy feel than his 2013 effort, Underground Luxury, with the ATL rapper considering it a right of passage piece. The LP's funky cover art depicts Bobby Ray decked out in Parliament Funkadelic-inspired gear and the album comes equipped with a live instrumentation sound. Not to mention, the rapper produced the majority of the album himself.

Last week, B.o.B. dropped by the XXL offices to spring the news, all the while treating staff to a first listen of the then-unreleased effort. The No Genre label head also sat down for a chat to spill all the details regarding the album and to also catch us up on his additional endeavors, his label movement and his auditions for the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton. —Miranda J.


XXL: So you have your new album, Psycadelik Thoughtz. I have to ask, where’s your head at right now?
B.o.B: This project, for me, it really started off back and forth as a song and me wanting to build a couple of songs around it to build a short EP. And it really just blew into an album. I’m actually working on my next album and I noticed a lot of my fans have been saying they wanted the old Bob back. This project is like right now. It’s urgent. It’s a real body of work. I feel like this is the most cohesive project that I have ever had. I tend to go from left to right a lot, but all in all it feels like a relief for me to really get that side out in a really creative, direct way. It’s always been, "How do we translate who I am? How do we get that across?" I feel like this is very accurate.

We were talking a while back and you had said that since you came in the industry so young, you had to find yourself throughout the journey. Would you say that you now have a firm grasp of who you want to be? And does this album kind of define that?
It kind of feels like a right of passage in a way, because when you’re building your identity the identity that you're building is based off of your career, because your career has so much to do with your identity. It’s like you really have to understand the difference [between] perception and your reality. So there was really a lot that I had to learn. But getting to this point, I had to go through everything that I went through. People just see the tip of the iceberg, but they don’t see the missed shots and the mistakes.

How does it differ from Underground Luxury? I know with that album you were trying to get back in tune with your hip-hop roots.
Underground Luxury, I was trying to do two things with that project. First, I wanted to be in the club and I wanted to tell my story. Just really describe my perspective on life and really what created me. So this album is me going kind of personal, but it’s not overshadowing the fact that it’s a very musical album and I spent a lot of time on this music. I don’t think I spent this much time on any other project, musically. Some of the songs date back to 2008. It’s a lot of different layers to it.

Would you say this album is sort of like a homecoming?
Definitely. It’s funny, because this album has the same amount of songs as The Adventures Of Bobby Ray, regarding the fact that one of the songs was a remix. So they both have the same amount of songs, technically.

You dropped the cover art and it gives me the vibe of that essential ATL hip-hop. When I look at it, I think of Dungeon Family and OutKast. Do they have any influence?
Conceptually, I’ve been working on it with the artist who painted it from Atlanta and I think putting it together we both were aware of what it can be compared to—even a Jimi Hendrix album cover. That was one of the references we used putting it together. We kind of just wanted to give it this real psychedelic, worldly feel, but at the same time keep all the symbolism in it true to me. Also, I wanted it to be a thought-provoking piece. I think it’s a real conversational piece.

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STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON VIP Screening With Director/ Producer F. Gary Gray, Producer Ice Cube, Executive Producer Will Packer, And Cast Members

Who are some of the producers that worked on the album? To me, it has a really fresh sound.
That’s one thing to me. I always want the music to pop off the canvas, but I did most of the production on this album. I collaborated with Arthur McArthur, Cooks Classic did the intro track and everything else was all me. I talked to a few musicians here and there, but I ultimately handcrafted this thing.

As far as features, who can we expect?
Of course, the bae [Sevyn Streeter] is on there.

The Bae gotta be on there.
[Laughs] You know it’s funny, because there are only two features. Her and Jon Bellion. Jon is singing "Violet Vibrato." He’s an artist on the rise. His personal style fits this whole world that I’m in.

Would you say you felt any pressure in making this album?
This is like the least pressure I ever felt on making a project. I actually like working under pressure. I actually love the feeling. I usually spring into action the most when there’s an urgent matter. But this felt effortless. It's really me, it’s me in totality. It just really came out and I had to just record what I was doing. It all pieced together. It’s a real package.

It seems you're in a place where you just don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks. You also recently took on a lead role, you introduced your label No Genre. What’s your plan in the next year for that?
It really started with the mixtape series that I had and it just stuck. No other name describes what I do better than that phrase. The artists that we’re working on now, like Scotty ATL, he has a huge buzz in Atlanta. They’re playing his record and they know it. We performed it at Birthday Bash and he was like, "Damn, they know it." I remember when I had that moment when T.I. brought me out. I was like, "Man, I hope they sing the song." It’s just a surreal feeling. Just being a part of something is actually just as satisfying as being the artist yourself. I know from being on a label what I would want a label to offer me, and I feel like I can, in turn, offer a lot of those things as an independent label to artists as well. It’s a real exciting journey for me.

I’m curious to know how much of a role T.I. still plays in your career.
Me and Tip are close beyond music. So he’s always going to a part of my life and my career. He’s like a big brother, the big brother you never had. I’m always hitting him up about different things. We build on a lot of things outside of music anyway on the business tip. In the years to come, we’re going to probably end up doing some crazy things. And movies, Tip has been doing his thing with movies. Seeing that, it lets me know how to move next.

Speaking of that, a while ago you were in Single Ladies.
Yeah, I definitely had an acting role. I do a little bit.

Is there anything else on the horizon?
I actually auditioned for Straight Outta Compton. I was watching the movie and I knew the whole take. It was good practice though, but for somebody who’s like me who has to develop my acting ability, you have to really go as hard as you do with music. But truly, what acting is, is just being. You have to tap into that, that’s the gift.

Who were you trying out for in Straight Outta Compton?
They actually tried me out for two parts. They tried me out for Dre and for Ice Cube. I was surprised with Ice Cube. I was like, "They want me to try Ice Cube?" They were like, "Yeah, we want you to try Ice Cube." I was like, I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s crazy how where your are [vocally] and how the lines are delivered. Cube is more low with it and Dre is more cerebral. So it’s crazy getting into their different characters. It was fun though and it was a good experience for me to do that. It’s really about painting the picture and showing what your art is, what you bring to the screen. So when you audition, you have to have it positioned right. Working with the acting coach was crazy. I did pretty good, considering. But they cast the really good actors and they got Ice Cube’s son to play Ice Cube. It couldn’t have gotten better than that. That shit was crazy.