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Lyrics

"In-slum-national, underground"
Quick Thought

André 3000 brings the thunder right from the very first line of "B.O.B." As the rapper mentions in this line, he is representing the slum-dwellers of America.

Deep Thought

This is simply incredible phrasing by Dré. What does "in-slum-national underground" mean, exactly? Well, for one, it sounds like he is trying to say "international underground," but this international underground links a particular caste of people - those living in the slums and the ghettoes of America and the whole world; those on the fringes of society; those whose voices are often silenced and kept underground. In other words, the outcasts.

"Like a million elephants and silverback orangutans"
Quick Thought

OutKast is bringing the war elephants, just like Hannibal and Alexander the Great.

Deep Thought

Dré equates the force and weight of his lyrics to that of a million elephants, invoking the image of the famous war elephants of ancient history. He also mentions silverback orangutans, which do not really exist. (He is probably referring to silverback gorillas, which is the name given to mature male gorillas whose backs become silver in color with age... but "orangutans" rhymes better with "train" than, say, "gorillas.")

"Who want some?"
Quick Thought

Dré playfully calls out other MCs in this line, asking "who wants some?"

Deep Thought

This line shows that despite the fact that Dré isn't exactly your typical arrogant, macho, gangster rapper, he's still not afraid of a little friendly competition.

"In a silk suit, tryin' not to sweat"
Quick Thought

Just in case you forgot - and Dré reminds us all in this line - OutKast hails from the dirty, sticky, muggy South.

Deep Thought

OutKast was one of the first groups to popularize the genre of Southern rap, which is known for its distinct Southern bounce and drawling delivery. Over time, Oukast broke free of this niche genre, gaining international acclaim. But Dré and Big Boi never forgot where they came from. This line creates the image of Dré wearing one of his many flamboyant silk suits while enduring the humid Atlanta weather.

"One-Nine-Nine-Nine, Anno Domini"
Quick Thought

Not many rappers would ever use the term Anno Domini - but then again, André 3000 is not like many rappers.

Deep Thought

The term Anno Domini may sound unfamiliar, but most of us are probably more familiar seeing it in its abbreviated form - A.D. The Julian and Georgian calendars designate dates with either B.C. (Before Christ) or A.D. in order to distinguish the epochs. Many scholars today have dropped these terms, preferring to designate dates with either Before Common Era (BCE) or Common Era (CE), which are less overtly Christian in nature. André's line here may sound complicated, but all he is saying is 1999 A.D.... which is when the song was written.

"A scale and some Arm & Hammer"
Quick Thought

This is a reference to selling drugs.

Deep Thought

Arm & Hammer, a brand of baking soda, is necessary in order to process powder cocaine into crack, and a drug dealer needs a scale to measure out his product. The line punctuates a litany of bleak images drawn from ghetto life.

"Black Cadillac and a pack of Pampers"
Quick Thought

This is another line that not many rappers might put out there so willingly.

Deep Thought

The line creates a memorable juxtaposition between gangsta culture - the drug-dealing gear of the previous line, the big black Cadillac - with a whole different kind of "reality rap": the diapers that mark the responsibilities of fatherhood. Interestingly, André 3000 had a child with his girlfriend, the singer Erykah Badu, in 1997. They would later break up, prompting André to write the song "Ms. Jackson." So at the time "B.O.B." was written, it is quite possible that André was literally driving around in a black Cadillac with a pack of Pampers.

"Don't pull the thang out, unless you plan to bang/ Bombs over Baghdad/ Don't even bang unless you plan to hit something"
Quick Thought

The mantra-like chorus works as a basic foreign-policy stance, a hip-hop expression of the "Powell Doctrine" which called for avoiding military conflict whenever possible but using overwhelming force when necessary. Or maybe it's about sex.

Deep Thought

André overheard the phrase "bombs over Baghdad" while watching a news report while on tour in London. The report was most likely describing Operation Desert Fox in December of 1998, an aerial bombing campaign aimed at destabilizing Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq about halfway between the First and Second Gulf Wars. André was critical of the way in which the United States handled this, explaining to Rolling Stone: "the U.S. was trying to beat around the bush. We was trying to scare them by bombing the outskirts. If you gonna do anything at all, do it. If you gonna push it, push it."

"Before you re-up, get a laptop/ Make a business for yourself, boy, set some goals/ Make a fair diamond out of dusty coals"
Quick Thought

Big Boi urges a drug dealer to stop selling drugs and make money the honest way.

Deep Thought

When a drug dealer re-ups, he's simply buying a new supply of drugs to then turn around and sell for a profit. Big Boi urges this drug dealer to buy a laptop instead, so that he can start a business on his own and make money the honest way ("make a fair diamond out of dusty coals").

"A movin' like Floyd comin' straight to Florida"
Quick Thought

This is a reference to Hurricane Floyd, which threatened Florida in September 1999, forcing the third largest evacuation in United States history.

Deep Thought

As Hurricane Floyd made its way towards Florida in September 1999, over 2.6 million residents were forced to evacuate their homes. Hurricane Floyd struck the Bahamas at peak strength, but then turned away from Florida and weakened by the time it made landfall in North Carolina. Still, Floyd caused heavy damage and flooding in North Carolina before affecting the mid-Atlantic region and even New England.

"Yo quiero Taco Bell"
Quick Thought

A reference to the Taco Bell TV ad campaign that featured a Spanish-speaking chihuahua exclaiming, "yo quiero Taco Bell."

Deep Thought

The Taco Bell chihuahua, otherwise known as "Gidget," appeared in the Taco Bell advertising campaigns from 1997 to 2003, becoming a pop-culture sensation. His most popular catchphrase was "yo quiero Taco Bell" - that's "I want Taco Bell" for the fiercely monolingual among us - which Big Boi refers to in this line.

"When you come to ATL boi you better not hide/ Cause the Dungeon Family gon' ride, hah!"
Quick Thought

ATL is a slang abbreviation for Atlanta, the city that OutKast considers home. The Dungeon Family is the rap crew that OutKast is a part of.

Deep Thought

The Dungeon Family is the name of the Atlanta-based musical collective that OutKast anchors. The group took the name Dungeon Family because record-producer Rico Wade's basement recording studio was referred to as "the dungeon." This is where OutKast recorded their first tracks. The Dungeon Family includes the members of OutKast, Goodie Mob, Parental Advisory, the Lumberjacks, and Sleepy Brown.

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