Meet Bob Lennon
Meet Bob Lennon Native: Macon, GA Occupation: Rapper
Bob Lennon is sitting on a toilet, pants around his ankles, breaking up weed onto a hotel-room-issued Holy Bible balanced on his lap; out in the bedroom, two women are engaging in a little light rope bondage. “When you real, you real – when you fake, you fake,” Bob raps. “When you great, you great.” This scene, from the video for Bob’s song “Stoopid,” fascinated me the first time I saw it – it was so much different from anything else I’d seen local rappers doing with their visuals, so captivating and irreverent. Bob himself is a cool-looking dude, with a head full of asymmetrical dreads and a nose ring, and the music is great, catchy rap with killer vocals, memorable lyrics, and good beats. Bob Lennon is, by his own admission, a rock star at age 23, one everybody in Macon is going to wish they hadn’t slept on someday.
“I’m a black guy, I come from a black side of Macon, but when you’re different and from an urban side of town, it’s kinda weird to get out and kinda weird to not be boxed in, too. Once you start to venture out of your hood, you start to see there’s a lot of different parts to Macon, and that’s cool,” says Bob. He grew up in East Macon, raised by his grandparents, who from a young age inundated him with music that he still considers influential to this day – Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Nat King Cole. His first memory of rapping is from 4th grade, when he saw a group of guys freestyling on the playground and knew he wanted to be a part of that. He went home, started practicing his raps, and returned to the playground prepared. “I didn’t get the acceptance I wanted right away,” he says, “but I did get good at it.”
Rap as a serious career didn’t occur to Bob until he was away at ABAC on a golf scholarship. “Everything I couldn’t do at home, I did there,” he says. “You know, drugs, and just living the college life, the free life. I started to find my artistic side, and my friends were telling me, ‘Hey, you should do this for real, this is something you’re really good at, pursue it.’ So I did. I haven’t stopped yet.” Which musicians influenced him growing up? Andre 3000, UGK, Tupac, and T.I. – but really, he says, he’s influenced by everybody. “Music is my life,” he says. “I listen to the radio – I hate hearing the same songs over and over, but the hits are on there. I read fashion magazines for style tips. I study as much as I can.”
‘Study’ is a word he uses often when describing his relationship with music – he studies other artists’ performances for ways to make his own live shows better. “I like to watch Michael Jackson,” Bob says. “If you listen to Mike, and then you watch him perform, he sounds exactly alike. That’s something I try to do – I wanna sound the same live as I do on wax.” And he does – Bob Lennon’s live performances are high-energy and precise, with each lyrical flourish intact. As anybody who’s attended a rap show knows, that’s rare – a lot of times, even at rap shows of artists I love dearly, something can end up lost in translation between the recording and the performance; it’s the mark of a true professional that Bob works hard to be sure that doesn’t happen to him. Regular performing helps with that, too – Bob does shows weekly, a lot of them in Atlanta these days. He’s traveled to Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina for shows, and this summer he’ll be hitting South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, which hopefully will get him the kind of exposure he deserves.
And speaking of performing – one thing I was interested to talk about was the fact that rap music is pretty across-the-board popular, but the tendency seems to be that up-and-coming rappers really only perform in urban venues – I had a hunch this wasn’t exactly by choice, and I was right. “The first place I actually ever performed is Fresh Produce,” says Bob. “I was trying to do the downtown scene, but it was hard, because they’d already established their mirror of hip-hop, which at the time was Floco Torres. When I took my weirdness to the urban scene, it was like a breath of fresh air for them, and they kinda accepted me more than the downtown scene. The downtown scene’s starting to pick up but it hasn’t led to a gig for me yet. Right now the urban scene is working for me – I’m trying to venture out downtown but it’s hard to get my foot in the door.”
What other local artists does Bob admire? “I’m big on a guy named Cesar Royale – he’s got a hot song called ‘Put it on Me’ that’s playing on the urban stations here, but before that song I was paying attention to him hard. And B3, he’s dope to me as a DJ. He’s really trying to bridge the urban and downtown scenes. A lot of people haven’t noticed that yet, but I have, and I wanna give him a shout out for that.”
The music Bob has put out so far is great – you can find him on Spotify and iTunes, and he has several videos up on Youtube. “YaYa,” “Stoopid,” and the newest single “Chasing Pavements” are all fresh and fun and catchy; his rhymes are clever, and he sometimes veers off into odd melodic singing that harkens back to Andre 3000. He’s a lot of fun to listen to, and a lot of fun to watch. He has the confident swagger a rapper needs to have, but he’s sweet and easy to talk to, too – smart and thoughtful. I asked him if he could remember the best advice he could remember getting from anyone lately: “A guy named Wiley who helps promote me in Florida told me last time I was there that nothing was in vain. I needed to hear that. A lot of times in the music business you end up doing a lot of stuff that feels like it’s a waste of your time, but it’s not. Everything’s leading you to something, or teaching you something.”
Find Bob on Twitter at @bobielennon, and on Instagram at @whoisboblennon