B.o.B Tells Us Why He’s Ushering Fans Into the After Hours With New ‘Somnia’ Album
B.o.B had a vision for his new album before the pandemic hit. He tells us it was meant to have a fiery energy and pace to it. Then the world changed, and so did the vibe for Somnia.
The Atlanta-bred rapper’s latest project drops at midnight on Sept. 11 and features the singles “ZZZ’s,” “After Hourzzz,” and “Slizzy Sity.” Crafted during quarantine, the album morphed into a thematic collection of songs intended to help listeners escape into an after-hours suite, and as B.o.B says, “to soothe the beast.”
Can’t sleep? There’s something for you on Somnia. Feel like partying? Step into the after-hours realm. Want to unwind? There’s something here for you too.
In a phone interview, B.o.B told Showbiz Cheat Sheet about the creative process for Somnia, what he learned about himself during quarantine, and why this album is unlike any other in his career.
Showbiz Cheat Sheet: The vibe of these Somnia songs feel kind of downtempo or trance-y. Would you say the whole album sticks to a cohesive theme/sound?
Yes, it’s definitely a concept album — truly an after-hours album.
Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Does it tell a story about your waking and sleeping states of mind?
It’s interesting you ask that because I feel like there are two different types of people. You know, there are people that like to party and people that don’t, and I feel like there’s a misconception about the people that party.
I feel like it has to do a lot with the surface of what it looks like and to be honest — I can speak for myself, I’m a kid that used to see ghosts, that used to stay up at night, that used to be up ‘til five in the morning playing video games or just staying up because I can’t sleep, because I’m thinking about all the anxiety and all the sh*t in life.
And so, when you grow up, you know these patterns and these personality traits just stick with you and you just end up with other people who can’t sleep — and other people who just be up. And then you get the “After Hourzzz.”
And so, it’s really like soothing the beast. You know, staying up, finding peace with life. Partying, drinking, having fun, trying to balance out all the bullsh*t and all the work that you’ve been doing all week.
All the bullsh*t that you deal with and all the mistakes that you made might keep you up at night. And a lot of people experience insomnia. So, this is the opposite of that — this is Somnia. This is like soothing the beast, so to speak.
Showbiz Cheat Sheet: You created this album during quarantine, a time when some people experienced anxiety, melancholy, introspection, or even fun. What are some of the things helped you tap into your creativity during this time or did it all just flow naturally?
Well, you know it’s funny because I feel like the album took shape on its own, ‘cause I really started out with a completely different album with a completely different theme.
One day, some of the sounds were sounding a little too chill … I wanted a fiery album, but the sooner it came close to getting ready, quarantine hit and all this introspection happened.
So, the album just kind of took a shape of its own. And it kind of became the after-hours album. It just ended up like a soundtrack for what’s happening.
Showbiz Cheat Sheet: So did it feel like work or did it feel like just a natural thing happening for you?
Well, I feel like an artist like myself, I have the luxury of working and partying at the same time. So, it really came from my lifestyle. Like — I think it was Marvin Gaye or Al Green — I can’t remember which one but they used to have a lot of people in the studio when they were recording.
I feel like when you do that, you kind of capture a collective vibe of what people are feeling and just all the little nuances and intricacies of emotions and dialect. All the good nuances — you kind of capture it in the record.
So, that’s what happened on this album, and I don’t feel like I’ve really had an album like this, ever in my career. The only project I feel that was like this that had a theme and kind of captured the moment is probably the Elements.
Showbiz Cheat Sheet: How about production? I know Tay Keith worked on this. Will fans get to hear you play any instruments on this one?
On this album, I worked on some stuff with my band — songs like “ZZZ’s,” “Slizzy Sity,” and “Pressure.” With these songs I really got a chance to get in with my band and really produce and orchestrate stuff even though a lot of trap music these days is all based on loops. So, I really had a chance to blow the parameters open and allow for a real composition.
And a lot of these songs I had to work on piece by piece. You know, I couldn’t just be like ‘Alright, take this part loop it there, then loop this here, then loop it there.’ I really had to write the entire song in a lot of cases.
I feel like my fans have a certain taste. They have a certain palate — a musical palate — and I’ve grown to trust that.
I’ve built that type of relationship with my fans, so I feel like they’ll definitely be able to appreciate the work that I put in on the musical side, and just the live instrumentation that so effortlessly blends in with what music is today. And music that you would want to hear after hours.
Stay up and stream B.o.B’s Somnia on Sept. 11 on all platforms when the clock strikes midnight.