Meat Rob. B :: Hip-Hop Well Done
Changing the face of hip-hop isn’t all that’s on out gay rap artist Rob. B’s agenda. The model turned hip-hop impresario is well aware of the expectations that are placed on the emerging artist. Ever since he went solo - Rob. B was once part of the duo called "The Black Market" he’s been pouring his tightly muscled frame into his latest project. The aptly named mix-tape Meat Rob B.
With Top 40 tunes invading the club scene, and chart-topping acts like Rihanna co-opting EDM, hip-hop is becoming the regular request on the weekend DJ’s setlist. More and more gay club night-crawlers are finding the groove in the stylistic rhymes often associated with the urban dance hall. "I love music and I always excelled at writing poetry." The San Diego native found an outlet for himself in rap and hip-hop. "I wanted a way to express myself."
Pursuing his artistic ambitions and finding an affinity in the beats, Rob. B admits that he wasn’t the best singer, but he had stories to tell. "I did want to show many aspects of myself." He was good with words and the minute he and his buddy teamed up in 2008 under the moniker of "The Black Market", Rob. B was instantly hooked. "We just decided to take a chance one day - kinda like chasing a high."
"The beat selection is probably the hardest part," Rob. B admits about working on his latest set of tracks. "I want everything to be cohesive - I want to make sure it’s not a one trick pony." The mix-tape project gave the artist the opportunity to allow old and new fans into his lyrical world, hence the play on words in the title: Meat Rob. B. "I want it to have something for everybody - but I also want it to be me." And revelatory the track list is.
Rob. B allowed his life experiences to shape the narrative of his work. "I don’t understand how people can write about something that they haven’t gone through," he states. "I like to keep it raw."
His writing process is honest and genuine. "I’ll often have a whole lot going on in my mind - it’s easier to translate it into my music," he says. "It depends on how I’m feeling that day. If I’m feeling cocky as fuck - just feeling myself, then I portray that."
He writes about love. He talks about betrayal. He raps about the love of his dearly departed mother - his biggest fan. "Not everything I rap is about the ’gay struggle’," Rob. B comments. "We go through everything that every other man goes through. I just want to be that platform."
Hip-hop is often linked with its über-masculinity, some might say misogynistic quality. As one of the few gay hip-hop artists, Rob. B has cracked the mold of what a rap act should look and sound like. "We don’t really have someone out there that is doing this [performing rap] and is being taken seriously."
Rob. B isn’t the only out gay hip-hop/rap artist on the scene. Pop artist Sir Ari Gold has teamed up with Mr. Man, and club life icon Amanda Lepore, who has relied on the talented hijinks of mix-master Cazwell for some of her biggest hits. Most recently mainstream act Frank Ocean has received many accolades and awards for his music, and has even gone to fist-to-cuffs legitimizing his credibility.
For Rob. B it’s important that his music have substance. "There’s always got to be some kind of punchline or joke behind it," he says about some current gay hip-hop tracks. "I just want to put out quality music on the level of the people that I look up to."
Among those hip-hop influences he credits Naz and especially the legendary Notorious B.I.G. Though from the West Coast, Rob. B’s influences have mostly generated from the East Coast sound. "All the artists that have always resonated with me - all have had a story to tell. They were able to translate their everyday life into music."
He goes on to describe the distinction: "West coast rap scene is more about glorifying a gang life or hard thug music - I never really got into those beats or the message that they were into. There often time wasn’t a real message behind it." Through his experience, and his art, Rob. B is letting other artists know he’s the real deal. "There are a lot of acts out there that are just full of a gimmick."
It doesn’t escape him either that his latest project Meat Rob B - as the title would suggest without provocation - Rob B the artist is full aware of his outward desirability. "A lot of people get caught up in the image - I can understand that. That’s what was paying for my music."
Mixing Things Up
With his urbanized Latino sexy appeal, and the skills to match, Rob. B is focused on the writing of new and fresh material now that he’s been signed to longtime friend and fellow out hip-hop/pop artist Solomon’s new label. The two best friends have collaborated often. "I do like to hold my own - I’m not an act that needs back-up," Rob. B admits. "But you always want more than one person’s perspective on a topic - you always need a second opinion. It’s like getting a doctor’s diagnosis." He values the opportunity to team-up with talent, and especially with Solomon.
Rob. B has put himself in a position with Solomon to revolutionize the way the world looks at popular music and the out gay artists commanding attention. "Anyone that is out in hip-hop right now had to have their name solidified - I’m already out. There’s no taking that back. I’d like to think that the hip-hop community is ready to take that step...to be public about it. Only time will tell."
Most importantly, he wants the music to take center stage. "I want people to hear everything I have to say. If I have to use a party song as a precursor to get people to pay attention to me - then so be it." But Rob. B want his music to also make you sweat. "I want people to get drunk and have fun to my music at the same time."
Relocating to New York City has also opened up the artist’s world. He’s connected to the inspired feel of the metropolis and also focused more on his music. "New York City is a city of hustlers - everyone’s got something up their sleeve. Everyone’s always doing a hundred things all at once...but everyone I’ve ever talked to about my music was always more than embracing." It won’t be long before his audience finds themselves in the same position and getting their cut of Rob. B. Talented and sexy, with instant swagger, Rob. B is raw and on it. Not just a piece of meat, but closer to your dreams.
Want a taste of the mixtape? Goto the website and Meat Rob. B.