B.o.B's real name is Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. In an interview with DJBooth's DJ Z, the rapper explains the variety of meanings this pseudonym can have – "...B.o.B. is very flexible and it applies to many situations. Like, for example, on the weekend, when I'm takin' it easy, I'm just Burnin' on Blunts, the Best of Buds. And when it comes Monday, I gotta get back in the studio, so I got my Business over Bullsh*t, Business over B*tches. And I'm quick with it, like a Bullet outta a Barrel, and I'm just Bangin' out Beats and Bustin' on Beats when I'm rappin'."
He started rapping at the age of 13 after studying classic albums from DMX and Eminem.
While still in junior high school, B.o.B formed a group with his cousin Swag, called The Klinic. When his partner left for college, B.o.B decided to launch a solo career and subsequently recorded a hazy ode to marijuana named "Cloud 9."
He was discovered at T.I.'s Club Crucial, where he used to perform with B-Rich.
His first studio album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray hit #1 on the Billboard 200, making B.o.B. the 13th male solo artist to have a debut album at #1 in its first week.
B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray includes contributions from Lupe Fiasco, T.I., Playboy Tre, Hayley Williams, Rivers Cuomo, Rico Barrino, Eminem, Janelle Monáe and Bruno Mars.
His mega hit "Airplanes
" featuring Hayley Williams, the lead vocalist of the alternative band Paramore, was recorded without B.o.B. and Williams even meeting each other, as Williams was touring with Paramore at the time. Eminem joined Haley Williams to provide guest vocals for the sequel, named "Airplanes, Part II."
B.o.B. features in the song "New York New York" that was used in the launch trailer for the first-person shooter video game Crysis 2.
He can play the guitar, the piano, the trumpet, the French horn and the cello. B.o.B's girlfriend, singer-songwriter Sevyn Streeter told The Boombox
that she is inspired by his endeavors as a multi-instrumentalist. "He'll come back from out of town and he has this new instrument at his studio that… kind of like a round bowl-looking thing but it's like a xylophone," she shared. "You hit the inside of it and everytime you hit someplace different, it has a different sound."
His father is a preacher. Going to the church and listening to gospel music every Sunday influenced his songs "I'll Be In The Sky," "Satellite" and "The Lost."
B.o.B is a vocal proponent of the Flat Earth theory - the claim the Earth is, in fact, a disc rather than spherical. His 2016 track "Flatline" expands on the rapper's views about the shape of our planet.