By Daniel Paiz
Digging into your own backyard is vital when it comes to getting an idea of the different sounds your city offers. For this installment of A Week’s Worth Review, the lens squarely falls on a Denver artist who has been taking his time and working on his debut album. This artist goes by the name of Bob Doe.
Sometimes you don’t really know a whole lot about an artist before listening to their music. Honestly that’s a pretty solid way to go into checking out their music: no expectations means this listener is more receptive. Debuts are honestly the toughest album an musical artist will create, because whether they know it or not, they’ve been working towards it their entire life. Every successive album that follows is the time period between the previous album and now. That’s why taking your time is vital. For Bob Doe, that might’ve been time well spent.
Breaking down “Who is Bob Doe?”
Rhetorical album titles add to the expected delivery of a project. You as an artist both have to answer the question, while at the same time providing enough details for the listener to make up their own mind about the album. This album for me both gives us glimpses of who this artist is, but at the same time doesn’t give us enough info to further develop a stronger image. This is oddly good and bad.
Good, because artistically Doe can still determine whichever direction he’s feeling for future projects. Bad, because after 45 minutes it’s still hard to answer who Bob Doe is outside of topical generalizations. Breaking things down track by track will give more credence to how on the fence things occasionally feel.
Track by Track
Intro is a bunch of voicemails giving intentionally vague answers, adding to the thematic entry into the album.
Overtime focuses on working and pushing past criticism and being about what one is saying they are about. “I’m not where I wanna be, so I’m gon work some more tonight” puts this song together quite well. The beat adds some gravity to the overall message.
Toast is a smoke song but also a unity track for Bob as well as those who have been a part of his life and hustle. A very positive energy type of beat, reminiscent of most weed songs.
Politics as Usual feels like a statement song from start to finish. Feedback about the state of society today follows with criticism of the current state of affairs. There’s also calling out the victim blaming when Black men are murdered by the police, as well as the double standards they face.
Pose for the Photo has the feel of a party/club song, has a bit of auto-tune on the chorus. Discusses interactions with women, and has moments where it could be about more than that but never fully develops. Probably a track that could grow in popularity due to the feel of it.
Who is Bob Doe? is a braggadocio track, showing the listener who exactly Bob Doe is. Basically, your interpretation is kind of your own, yet at the same time the artist presented throughout this tape is also the right answer.
Message to a Younger Me is an advice track of what Bob wishes he had known at a younger age, ideally delivering knowledge to someone younger now might learn from. Cautionary advice is the focus throughout, as well as lessons that were learned through earned experience.
All the Lies is a reflection piece about a past flame that was supposed to be a more meaningful relationship than it turned out to be. Another track that has a cautionary tale feel to it. Feels like a track to coast to, a reflect on life kind of vibe to it.
Good Die Young feels like a medication track in terms of dealing with trauma and pain that’s left scars of the emotional variety on the narrator. Sounds like a mentor or influential person is the focus. Another beat that does well to capture the narrative.
Maybe I’m Trippin focuses on self doubt and reflecting on life decisions up until this point. The production of this track might be the best on the album thus far.
Venting Freestyle feels like this one has a bit more direction than other songs on this album. This might be due to how it’s about venting, and when one is venting, they kind of ironically focus a bit more.
20/20 Vision is interesting because it feels like focus from the venting freestyle is carried over to this track. The delivery feels a bit more driven. Perhaps because this track focuses on being focused on one’s path.
No Boxout feels like a Denver anthem of sorts, referencing Old Denver neighborhoods. Subtle jabs at New Denver/gentrified neighborhoods. Definitely appreciating the basketball references throughout.
Keep Ya Head Up encounters someone he knows dealing with domestic violence or a bad home situation. Feels like a combination of making people realize violence at home is still out there, while also discussing how he is continuing to create and keep pushing through adversity. It’s a bit meddled, as it’s largely about pushing through overall adversity, and very light on addressing domestic abuse or other violence at home. Perhaps this is more of a general track about adversity of all forms.
Dear God is a reflective track via a conversation where Bob is confessing to God. Listing all of his sins/problems/shortcomings is an interesting track of vulnerability. There’s a connection that comes through stronger than other tracks do. Sharing of one’s issues and reflections definitely is something Bob might want to do more of on future projects.
Where It All Began (Remix) starts out with more Denver references, which automatically adds to the track. The instrumental adds some gravity to the track, making it feel heavier when it comes to reflecting on the outcomes some encounter. The feature is decent. It has the potential to be more of a closing track than it is; the last verse on the album is from the featured artist, it would’ve been more impactful for Bob to close things out.
This conclusion should be taken with a grain of salt, and not harsher than it might sound. I liked this project, but I wanted to like it more. There are moments where the artist Bob Doe can move towards comes through. However, there’s still some work to be done when it comes to doing a deeper dive of storytelling and giving more of oneself on the project. That is not to say this isn’t a good project, because it is. “Who is Bob Doe?” is a good starting point when it comes to being a debut album.
As someone who tends to dig for more concepts and overarching ideas throughout a project, I’m hoping lessons learned from this album project Doe onto that next level of artistic development and storytelling. There’s plenty of artists out there who can sound like whatever is popular right now. This Denver artist has the potential to carve out his image more than I’ve heard so far. The good news here is that this artist displays that he learns from past life experiences; now he has to do so again for the next project.