INTERVIEW: B.o.B Opens Up About New 'ETHER' Album & More

By Isha Thorpe

May 17, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, B.o.B is officially back with new music. In Dec. 2013, the rapper released his Underground Luxury album. Since then, we’ve been waiting for another full-length project.

Yes, last year B.o.B dropped a compilation project called ELEMENTS that consisted of his four previously released mixtapes; WATER (We Are The Enemy Really), FIRE (False Idols Ruin Egos), EARTH (Educational Avatar Reality Training Habit), and AIR (Art Imitates Reality). But, that didn’t fulfill our appetite for hearing more of the talent’s skills. That’s why we’re so excited that his brand new studio album, which is named after the fifth element ether, is now available. Not only that, but B.o.B is also about to hit city after city in his “Elements Tour,” which kicks off June 8 in Jacksonville, NC.

B.o.B's new album is the artist at his best. It combines his intellectual thoughts with his sometimes complex, sometimes clever bars; while showing hints of his other trap and turn up/fun characteristic traits. True fans that appreciate B.o.B for everything that he is will definitely love the new project. There’s no doubt in our minds. The star studded 12 track album features the biggest names in the business like Lil Wayne, T.I., CeeLo Green and Usher.

Perhaps one of the reasons that ETHER shows so many sides to the MC is because he’s gone independent, since his last album. He has much more freedom to be himself – and unapologetically. With less restrains holding certain aspects of him back, B.o.B went all in with ETHER and we’re here for it. iHeartRadio got the chance to sit down with the artist to talk about his new LP and more. 

Check out our interview with him below. You can purchase ETHER here.

Why is now the perfect time for ETHER to be released?

Well, since I knew that what started as a WATER mixtape ended up being a whole tetralogy, I knew that I couldn't just stop after there. I had to do ETHER. But also, I felt like I was also long overdue for an album. So, I felt like it was the best time to segue from the ELEMENTS to kind of involving all my fans and all my demographics because every fan isn't into conspiracy theories. And every conspiracy theorist isn't into mainstream music. 

What was the recording process like?

It always changes but for the most part, it’s still making music. It's different things depending on what I'm doing. If I'm doing live music, or if I'm doing trap music, or reggaeton, or dancehall. It kind of varies a little bit how it's made, but ultimately you got to just dive into it. I don't think it's possible to make music without spending time, hours on end on whatever it is that you're working on.

How does ETHER show your growth as an artist?

I've never put out an album, where I put this much into the lyrics as far as from a creative standpoint. Really taking the concepts that apply to my personal life and [putting] in a lyrical finesse in it [and] into the songs.

What are your favorite songs on the album?

My favorite songs are "Middleman," "Fan Mail," "ET," "Avalanche," pretty much a lot of the songs that I produced. (laughs)

You already dropped “4 Lit” and “Xantastic” featuring Young Thug. Why did you decide to drop those two songs first?

“4 Lit" was a record that was actually done before the album was completed. I'd go into DJ booths in all the clubs and be like ‘Yo, play this song.’ And people responded to it. So, I was like, I think we got a record.

The one with Young Thug, I wanted to kind of play with people's brains a little bit. You would expect me and Thug to do a trap record. It's [really] dream pop. Retro.

So, "4 Lit" features T.I. and Ty Dolla $ign and this is your first album that you will be releasing independently. So, you and T.I. are obviously still cool.

Yeah, definitely. I'm still Hustle Gang even though I'm independent. A huge part of being independent is being able to use the relationships and resources that I've developed and accumulated over the years, but at the same time without any red tape. Because there's a lot of people that I wanted to collaborate with, but I couldn't because I was on a label and there's just a lot of politics involved, I feel like now I'm really able to go full strike.

So, what do you want fans to feel when they hear ETHER?

I feel like a lot of the conscious crowd that I've gained is very honest when it comes to outside stimuli and things that affect us on the outside. But, I feel like nobody is really transparent about their personal struggles that they deal with. And I felt that's an angle I had to keep to on this album because everybody is always pointing a finger at the government and corruption, etc. But, ultimately everybody is a person. We're all people.

Photos: Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio

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