“In my entire life, I’ve never seen the whole world unite on an incident, topic or concept — ever,” B.o.B said, before noting that he’s only 26.
The Atlanta artist was performing at Irving Plaza in New York City when St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced on Nov. 24 that a grand jury would not indict Wilson. When B.o.B left the stage and heard the news, it disappointed him. But he wasn’t shocked.
“I never felt like the legal system was just,” B.o.B said. “Prior to the Mike Brown or the Trayvon [Martin rulings], I heard a lot of headlines about crazy sentences for people … so I was praying and hoping there would be some type of verdict that would hold [Darren Wilson] responsible. But it didn’t, so I think this moment is a catalyst for change.”
On Nov. 27 in response to the verdict, B.o.B released a new mixtape titled “New Black.” The eight-track project is made up of songs that B.o.B had already recorded about subjects such as black culture and the government. He felt like it would be the perfect time to release the content, which is intended to be thought-provoking.
The first line on the first song on “New Black” is, “Seems like since we got a black president, black people stopped questioning the government.” B.o.B, who claimed he’s not democrat or republican on “New Black,” released the title track in August in response to the death of Michael Brown. He called for boycotts in the song, but he told Global Grind on the final stop of his No Genre Tour at The Fillmore Silver Spring in Maryland that he didn’t want people to boycott voting — like protesters of the Ferguson decision said to do in front of the White House last month.
“You don’t boycott voting,” B.o.B said. “This is what you do with voting: you vote very locally. Don’t wait until there’s a black president running for office. There’s so many pieces to so many moving parts to this society. You can’t just place all the responsibility on one president. When [Barack} Obama’s out of office, we still have to have the responsibility — and I’m talking to the minorities here and people who are in the lower class — even after he’s out of office, you still got to locally vote. You still have to participate.”
While B.o.B may not agree with the specific message of every protester, he has been encouraged by the sheer number of them. He expected riots in Ferguson, due to the emotion that the news would evoke, but the global spread of peaceful protests surprised him.
“I knew it was going to be an initial reaction of anger,” B.o.B said. “But then, as time progressed, I’ve been seeing a worldwide movement. There’s footage in Hong Kong of people protesting. This is phenomenal … Looking at the ability that people have to coalesce is amazing.”
On Dec. 3, another grand jury acquitted New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo after he choked Eric Garner to death on July 17. Protests of the decision began that day, and they continue to occur around the globe.
“I think we’re entering a new era, a more proactive era,” B.o.B said. “I think people are now getting to the point to where [they know], ‘The way the system is structured right now is not fair. We have to protest.’ I remember when I was in school when we studied the French Revolution. This feels like it’s the French Revolution, except it’s the world revolution.”
Now that his tour is over, B.o.B will work on completing an album with his record label, No Genre, titled “No Genre Presents: The Label.”