Remember B.o.B? The rapper and vocalist from Georgia, who used to fill us with unfiltered joy thanks to this sort of thing?
B.o.B has been in demand for years. His collaborations alone speak volumes about both his versatility and the amount of love for this man in the world of music. It started with Bruno Mars in 2010 with “Nothin’ on You,” and since then, he’s worked with Taylor Swift (on “Both of Us”), Nicki Minaj (on “Out of My Mind”), Hayley Williams (for “Airplanes”), 2 Chainz (“HeadBand”), T.I. and Ty Dolla $ign (“4 Lit”), Lil Wayne (“ET”), Trey Songz (on “Not For Long”), Future (“Ready”), Jessie J (“Price Tag”), and even Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo (“Magic”). That’s not even everybody he’s collaborated with, but it does reflect the scope of his popularity and talent.
At the start of 2016, things took a weird turn for B.o.B though, when he started speaking out in his music, and on Twitter, about his belief that the Earth is flat — a notion that would be comedic if it wasn’t so inherently opposed to anything rational or sensible. On January 24 of that year, the rapper posted this:
The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart… where is the curve ? please explain this pic.twitter.com/YCJVBdOWX7
— B.o.B (@bobatl) January 25, 2016
A day later, he tweeted: “No matter how high in elevation you are… the horizon is always eye level … sorry cadets… I didn’t wanna believe it either,” and “A lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’ … but there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know… grow up.”
Voice of infinite reason, Neil deGrasse Tyson, was one of the first people to try and reason with B.o.B, using, you’ve guessed it, science.
@bobatl Earth's curve indeed blocks 150 (not 170) ft of Manhattan. But most buildings in midtown are waaay taller than that.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 25, 2016
@bobatl Polaris is gone by 1.5 deg S. Latitude. You’ve never been south of Earth’s Equator, or if so, you've never looked up.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 25, 2016
B.o.B responded by calling out Tyson on his 2016 track, “Flatline,” with the lyrics “Neil Tyson need to loosen up his vest / They’ll probably write that man one hell of a check.” Based on B.o.B’s rabbit hole of a Twitter account, the “they” in question is probably either government entities, or NASA, or both.
Still Tyson persisted, stating on an episode of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore: “Listen B.o.B — once and for all. The Earth looks flat because 1) You’re not far enough away at your size, 2) Your size isn’t large enough relative to Earth to notice any curvature at all.” He went on: “It’s a fundamental fact of calculus and non-Euclidean geometry. Small sections of large curved surfaces will always look flat to little creatures that crawl upon it.”
Undeterred, a year and a half later, B.o.B was still going after Tyson with posts like this one:
In fact, B.o.B is such a prolific tweeter on the subject of global conspiracy, mass deception, and flat Earther-ness that it would take an entire book to break down everything he currently believes he is being lied to about.
There is no higher warfare than deception…
— B.o.B (@bobatl) September 6, 2017
To give you some idea of the mental processes involved in B.o.B’s bizarre belief system, check out these tweets:
Y'all do realize Time-Zones were created right ? it has nothing to do with the shape of anything pic.twitter.com/MwvAczMmkf
— B.o.B (@bobatl) August 31, 2017
— B.o.B (@bobatl) September 12, 2017
All of this flat Earth business reached its zenith last month when the rapper set up a Go Fund Me account, requesting first $200,000, and later $1 million, so that he might “purchase and launch multiple weather balloons and satellites into space, for experimental exploration. He’s donated 1k to the cause to get it going, and will be keeping you updated with step-by-step documentation of the process! Help B.o.B find the curve!”
This insane project (that has, at the time of writing, managed to only raise $5000) prompted some of the most famous astronauts in the world to weigh in:
— Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) September 27, 2017
I did too. It's called an orbit: the curved path of a celestial object around a star, planet, or moon. https://t.co/h8GQJadfxD
— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) September 27, 2017
It seems that the more people who try to engage with him about the shape of the Earth, and the more publicity he receives around the subject, the more B.o.B doubles down on his theory that the globe is a vast conspiracy. No word yet on why NASA and the government would be lying about the shape of the world, but, on a surface level at least, he seems to be sticking with it.
When B.o.B upped the limits of his fundraiser to a million, he explained why in this video:
It was only after I saw him in fundamental denial about how successful his fundraiser was going to be that it finally occurred to me: What if B.o.B doesn’t believe any of this flat Earth stuff at all? What if this is all an elaborate hoax or social experiment? Joaquin Phoenix kept up his deeply uncomfortable, bizarro, beardy persona for his mockumentary, I’m Still Here, for over a year before it became clear what was really causing him to act so strangely.
Could it be possible that B.o.B is merely holding a mirror up to the post-truth-iness of our current age and seeing how many people he can get to stand up for science? Nothing in B.o.B’s background, before 2016, suggested the levels of absolute irrationality that he is currently displaying. Now that the issue has moved off Twitter and into the realms of literally trying to go to space, one has to wonder if B.o.B means any of this at all. The flat Earth stuff is certainly keeping him in the public eye more than his music has done in the last couple of years, and this whole thing could make for one hell of a concept album.
In order to genuinely believe the Earth is flat, there has to be a complete disregard for science, a denial of the mountain of evidence gathered by NASA over the decades, as well as a fundamental embracing of irrational thought. Sure, it is possible that B.o.B has had a break with reality, and it’s possible that he might actually want to get his own satellites into orbit, but as it stands, I’m holding out hope that this is merely an elaborate hoax. Watching B.o.B be so reluctant to absorbing any evidence that the world is a globe is depressing as hell. At a certain point, you have just have to cling to the hope that one day he’s going to wake up and declare to the world: “Gotcha!”