bobby-ray_web.jpgATLANTA (AP) — A year ago, B.o.B was frustrated over his music career. He was anxious because his album hadn't materialized yet, and also worried that he wouldn't be able to combine all of his talents — rapping, singing, and playing instruments — into one niche.
But a hit changes things. And after his first single soared up the charts (the song “Nothin’ on You,” featuring Bruno Mars), it impressed his record label enough that his debut album was released a month ahead of time, an unusual occurrence in the music industry.

“I went through my transition phase for a reason to get to this point. So if you think about it, everything is falling into place. Perfect timing, actually,” said B.o.B, who was born Bobby Ray Simmons.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. His debut album, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray, claimed the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s album chart during the week of May 10, a week after “Nothin’ on You” hit the No. 1 spot on the pop charts.

“I felt like someone put in the cheat code to get the high score,” he said of his single nabbing the top spot. “It was like, ‘Wow, how did this happen so fast?’”

But there were times when the 21-year-old thought things were unfolding much too slowly. He was 17 when he was discovered at rapper T.I.’s Atlanta nightclub, and he was later signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle record label. But it took a while for his album to come to fruition, and in the interim, he found it difficult to establish himself as a force on rap’s important mix-tape circuit, where rappers release music intended for the streets.

“It was a transformational period into the mix-tape field. I had to stay patient with crafting myself musically,” he said.

One person who was influential in helping B.o.B find himself creatively was his mentor, T.I.

“[T.I.] taught me how to embrace all my sounds in its totality,” he said. “I have to let it flow. I also learned that I need to care about the music I’m making. If I don’t feel like doing something, I don’t do it.”

Throughout The Adventures of Bobby Ray, B.o.B fuses hip-hop, R&B and rock. His latest single, “Airplanes,” features Hayley Williams of Paramore and is already a top 10 hit.

Photo: Bobby Ray