TRIP SLAYMAKER ’18
On campus this weekend, it has been widely speculated that rapper and musician B.o.B., whose real name is Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. has been selected by the Barnyard committee and is in talks to headline Spring Weekend. Though the official announcement had not yet been made to the student body of Trinity by the time of publication, the odds of this rumor being true are favorable enough for a published review of his work and career.
For many, the selection of the rapper marks a welcome return to the Hip-Hop genre following last year’s E.D.M. headliner Louis the Child. Yet the reaction of students regarding the selection has been ambivalent. Even a big fan of B.o.B. is likely to associate the artist only with the summer of 2010, when B.o.B.’s biggest hits “Airplanes”, “Magic” and “Nothin’ on You” were at the top of the charts.
Though B.o.B. has continued releasing albums since his 2010 smash hit The Adventures of Bobby Ray, he is now noted more by the general public for his controversial beliefs than his music. Most famously a champion of the “flat-earth” theory, B.o.B. has often rapped and given interviews denouncing the “theory” that the earth is a globe.
In an internet fundraiser in 2016, B.o.B. asked fans to “show him the curve” and help him raise $200,000 for the task of creating a fleet of satellites that would measure the curvature of the earth. When the fund slowly began to fill with contributions, Simmons raised the goal to $1,000,000 for additional materials. It is unclear whether these projects reached any conclusion.
B.o.B.’s social media feeds have often been centered on other, more harmless conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11, the 1969 moon landing and the colonization of Mars, as well as other more obscure theories surrounding the cloning of celebrities.
B.o.B. drew more attention to his flat-earth theories as well as a collection of other conspiracies in his 2016 song “flatline.” The song opens with a conventional rap rhythm before finally shifting into a 30-second sampling of Neil Degrasse Tyson explaining the curvature of the Earth, to which Simmons reacts lyrically.
Though most of the song is a “dis-track” to celebrity physicist Tyson and his views on the shape of the planet, B.o.B. inexplicably enters into a bout of what seems to be undisguised antisemitism in the latter part of the song. “Do your research on David Irving– Stalin was way worse than Hitler–That’s why the POTUS gotta wear a kippah.” The David Irving referenced in the lyrics is an infamous British historian and Holocaust denier. Irving made a career travelling the world defending Hitler and describing the Holocaust as an elaborate hoax. These troubling lyrics in B.o.B.’s song seem to disparage a perceived overemphasis on the extermination of the Jews compared to other twentieth century genocides.
If B.o.B. is indeed the official selection of Barnyard, it seems likely there will be at least some student-motivated repercussions in the weeks before the event itself.