Zero in on the lyrics for deeper meaning.
When it comes to OutKast's songwriting, we need to look at André 3000's and Big Boi's respective parts as their own separate entities, since the two have very different songwriting styles. On the first verse of "B.O.B.," we hear André take the microphone, starting the track with a bang. As a songwriter here, André is all about masterfully describing the bleak circumstances he sees around him in the ghettoes of Atlanta. He is also less hesitant than most rappers to expose his vulnerabilities and his fears to the listening public. As he told the Guardian
, "in hip-hop people don't talk about their vulnerable or sensitive side a lot because they're trying to keep it real or be tough - they think it makes them look weak." In the second half of his verse, André shows that he is willing to expose this side: Black Cadillac and a pack of pampers
Stack of question with no answers
Cure for cancer, cure for AIDS
Make a n---- wanna stay on tour for days Get back home, things are wrong
Well not really it was bad all along
Before you left adds up to a ball of power
Thoughts at a thousands miles per hour
Hello, ghetto, let your brain breathe,
Believe there's always more, ahhhhh!
In this section, André exposes himself as a young father who still drives a black Cadillac, though now it's filled with Pampers. He also describes his fear of cancer and AIDS and all the hardship that comes with living in the ghetto ("thoughts at a million miles per hour").
Big Boi, on the other hand, is a bit more guarded than André when it comes to the subject matter of his verse. Instead, Big Boi focuses much more on spitting out creative rhymes. For instance, check out the line, "Big things happen every time we meet/ Like a track team, crack fiend, dying to geek." Big Boi uses the word "meet" to describe both a "track team" and a "crack fiend." In the case of the track team, he is referring to a track meet. And the crack fiend "dying to geek," wants to "meet" with his crack in order to get his next fix. Overall a pretty crazy line. Or then there's the incredibly inventive line: Before you re-up, get a laptop
Make a business for yourself, boy, set some goals
Make a fair diamond out of dusty coals
Here he urges a young drug dealer to buy a laptop before he restocks his drug supply so that he can start a business and make a "fair diamond out of dusty coals." This last line means that the boy can make money the honest way through hard work rather than the easy way, by selling drugs.
The very fact that André and Big Boi can create such descriptive, inventive lines over a beat measured at 135 beats per minute is an accomplishment in its own right.