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Tuesday, December 23, 2008



Meet the breakout rap star of 2009. "This is a mix tape from the future!" B.o.B. shouts on his latest underground release, a splashy collection of tracks that proves the young Atlanta rhyme zinger is certainly capable of future pop dominance. And maybe time travel, too.

Without an actual album to his name, B.o.B. graced various magazine covers in 2008 on the strength of mix tapes like this. And though he's one of numerous ultra-promising rappers set to drop debut discs next year, B.o.B. manages to match the lyricism of Washington's Wale and the affability of New York's Charles Hamilton with the bravado of a restless multi-tasker. He plays guitar, produces his best tracks and playfully swerves between rapping and crooning, like his hero André 3000 of OutKast. Plus he's got range. "Double Bubble" translates doo-wop fluff into a post-crunk epiphany, "[Expletive] You" seethes over an acoustic blues and "I'll Be in the Sky" soars toward Stevie Wonderish cloudscapes.

B.o.B. has clearly grown up on the music of revered Atlanta space cadets Goodie Mob and OutKast -- and while not as wildly inventive as his forbears, he keeps his feet planted in pop while reaching for the cosmos. Over the twinkling, music-box melodies of "Generation Lost," he makes a new year's resolution: "I'm-a play my guitar, rap about aliens and sing about stars 'til you understand that's what we are."

-- Chris Richards

DOWNLOAD THESE: "I'll Be in the Sky," "[Expletive] You," "Double Bubble," "Generation Lost"

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