After Decatur, GA hip-hop artist B.o.B (Bobby Ray Simmons Jr.) released his third studio album, Underground Luxury, in 2013 to predominantly mixed reviews, he went on to explore some of the typical avenues open to artists of his stature, appearing on Hustle Gang’s two Get Dough or Die mixtape/compilations, releasing his solo mixtape New Black in 2014, even building his own label, No Genre, promoted by the lukewarm 2015 mixtape, No Genre: The Label. The “Nothin’ on You” singer and rapper, who is originally from Winston-Salem, NC, rose to prominence with a string of hit singles from his Adventures of Bobby Ray debut (2010) and Strange Clouds sophomore (2012) before things went further south for him in the trend-following Underground Luxury. Historically an alternative pop-rapper with a unique yet underutilized rhyme-flow, B.o.B again lets mainstream pop harmonies and his mediocre singing vocals kick his very talented rapping abilities to the curb for this year’s Psycadelik Thoughtz album, which is also a surprise release through Atlantic Recordings.
Not simply a cleverly named album, Psycadelik Thoughtz does have a psychedelic feel, and though there are no blatant fillers by regular music standards, there are fillers by tried and true rap standards. Probably the best track here, the first song and title track, “Psycadelik Thoughtz,” features some deep thinking about next level mind-states and an end of the world scenario all with a questioning tone, but the album’s hip-hop integrity quickly goes downhill from there. Regretted hostilities knock over the half unconfident “Violence,” which opens mental floodgates for the rest of the album’s generally vague music-trip that floats along the outer margins of love, partying, self-examination and social studies. Needless to say, Psycadelik Thoughtz doesn’t go extremely deep into any one of those areas.
As good a rapper as B.o.B is, it’s sad that his natural rhyming talents must take a backseat to the agendas of commercial pop like they most certainly do here. Even the beats have that hissy, throbbing hypnosis typical in cultish club singles, and what’s also a little troubling is that none of B.o.B’s No Genre artists show up on Psycadelik Thoughtz, instead replaced in importance by a number of uncredited vocalists, Jon Bellion, and RichGirl singer Sevyn Streeter in “Love Life.” The likability of the album might have been higher had its pre-release stream been dropped in full (only snippets of all eleven tracks were available the day before drop-date) and had its status not danced around whether or not to call it the official fourth studio album by the singer/rapper. From one perspective then, the whole buildup and promotion behind the album seems a bit too unsure of itself. At any rate, forgetting for the moment whatever forces were behind making it as publicly digestible as possible, Psycadelik Thoughtz further symbolizes B.o.B’s unfulfilled potential as of late and more firmly solidifies him in history as a great emcee that never was.