B.o.B
Strange Clouds


3.0
good

Review

by Seth Barry-Hinton USER (18 Reviews)
May 13th, 2012 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: B.o.B expands upon his debut's pop-hop style, and creates a more organic, enjoyable album in the process.

There's a lot of divided consensus on Bobby Ray Simmons, a.k.a. B.o.B, particularly regarding his debut album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray, which was released in 2010. Some believed him to be the second coming of André 3000, what with his genre-blending style, multi-instrumentalism, and deep roots in both hip-hop and alternative rock. Others, like Tyler, The Creator, would rather see him die in a fiery airplane crash for his tendency to incorporate extreme amounts of pop and heavy usage of irritating hooks. But it has been generally agreed that B.o.B has plenty of rapping skill, and that helped his first album earn some clout and generated some steam for his second.

Now it's 2012, two mixtapes and a short-lived beef with Odd Future later. [i]Strange Clouds[i] has been released, with B.o.B comparing it to the second time you have sex. He also claimed that he felt like he better fit his niche, so to speak, and that the album would cause people surprise, that they wouldn't expect this kind of music from him. Although the latter half of that is inaccurate - it's the same pop/hip-hop amalgam that made up Adventures - the former is quite true. B.o.B feels more organic and less manufactured on this album, as if he's not only enjoying what he's doing, but that he's also not directly trying to hit the Billboard 100. He certainly will, and it's possible that's what he (or rather Atlantic) was aiming for, but regardless, the album's sound feels more natural.

One thing that can be noted is that the humble nature that was seen throughout much of his first album has mostly disappeared. There was already braggadocio seen there, but it's much more evident on Strange Clouds. For example, the song "So Good", in which he name-drops plentiful monuments and artists in a seduction attempt. The single is one of the album's best, combining a soaring upbeat piano with plenty of quality rapping from B.o.B without a guest behind him, and a stellar hook. On the other end of the spectrum is "Just a Sign", which features Playboy Tre and some introspective thoughts on technology, faith, and loss from both artists. There are still flashes of humility, such as on "Both of Us" or the aforementioned "Just a Sign", but for the most part, the themes are wealth and fame, either celebrating or questioning it.

Speaking of "Both of Us", that song is a good example of the blessing and the curse around the album: it's very, very similar to Adventures. Many of the songs, although they stand on their own well, simultaneously feel like re-hashes of songs from the debut. "Both of Us" inherits the theme and style of "Airplanes", "Ray Bands" continues the sunglasses concept from "Past My Shades", "Never Let You Go" is essentially a reversal of "Don't Let Me Fall". Although the songs all work well and aren't irritating or bad, they do raise the question of whether B.o.B can write lyrics that approach new subject matter while remaining clever. The album's beats tend to balance out the lyrics, however, bettering the poppy sounds of the original and cutting the more annoying ones. In terms of production, there isn't anything particularly new, but there aren't many sounds that should bother anybody (unless they find it corny, which is fair enough).

The album also retains the guest-heavy format of its predecessor, which can vary in result. On "Out of My Mind", Nicki Minaj does that brilliant thing she did on Kanye West's "Monster", where, instead of pigeon-holing herself into the role of pop singer, she spits truly venomous bars. On the titular track, Lil' Wayne delivers one of his best post-incarceration verses. And on the album's opener, Morgan Freeman brings that fantastic voice of his to some comic-book/sci-fi spoken word to introduce B.o.B. However, there's still the matter of the hooks. Though they've certainly improved from his debut, the guest singers tend to add little. Swift and Trey Songz do quite well on their respective guest spots, but both Chris Brown's presence and his lyrics are infuriating, and Lauriana Mae's voice is rather irritating. Either way, B.o.B does an excellent job of not being overshadowed by his guests, and you can tell instantly that he's the star of the show on this album.

Although the album as a whole is highly enjoyable, there are a few slip-ups. But thankfully, these slip-ups are less on the level of "tripped and fell down some stairs, cracking one's head open" and more along the lines of "tripped and did a decent front-flip to cover up the mistake". On the title track and on "Bombs Away", there are sparks of dubstep, which neither sound appealing or fit in with the rest of the production. There's the aforementioned lack of diversity in lyrical content. And certain songs, such as "Circles", just feel unnecessary, as if the album wouldn't have suffered in the slightest if they were removed.

But despite some issues, B.o.B's sophomore album is a good
one. It expands upon the positive aspects of his original, cuts down on the eclectic and chaotic genre-bending to a reasonable level, and generally improves in sound, making Strange Clouds more organic and enjoyable.



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3.1
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B.o.B is stongly and rapidly progressing, however he needs to utilize the talent he is getting on hi...


Comments:Add a Comment 
bloc
May 12th 2012


34919 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I really like the beat in the title track.

JWT155
May 13th 2012


9297 Comments


His last album was really enjoyable, definitely the soundtrack of my summer 2 years ago. Shame the singles were overplayed into oblivion.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 13th 2012


4950 Comments


crash that f*cking airplane that f***** n**** BoB was in

That's all i hear any time i see a record by him

gabethepiratesquid
May 13th 2012


4521 Comments


I don't mind a lot of B.O.B.'s mixtapes, and I liked the title track (kinda, even if Lil Wayne's verse was awful), but I have zero interest in listening to this.

qwe3
May 13th 2012


21362 Comments


yeah wish lil wayne wasnt on the title track

Tupik
May 13th 2012


673 Comments


"crash that f*cking airplane that f***** n**** BoB was in

That's all i hear any time i see a record by him"

haha so true. AND STAB BRUNO MARS IN HIS GODDAMN ESOPHAGUS

JazzHands333
May 13th 2012


312 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I thought Wayne's verse was better than anything on Carter IV, but maybe that's just because he only popped up briefly.

barbarian
May 14th 2012


341 Comments


B.o.B is a genius. But he's got a different style on his mixtapes. The studio albums are good to listen to if you are with some random hot stupid girl though.

gabethepiratesquid
May 14th 2012


4521 Comments


"I thought Wayne's verse was better than anything on Carter IV, but maybe that's just because he only popped up briefly."
6ft 7ft tho.

Storm In A Teacup
May 14th 2012


13149 Comments


6ft 7ft is a beast and not even Lil Wayne haters like myself should be able to deny that.

Hammrhead
May 14th 2012


8 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Although this album has its peaks, i think a 3.5 rating is a little excessive.

TheDjehuty
May 28th 2012


388 Comments


This album isn't good and some of these ratings are a clear indicator of what is happening to Hip Hop, It's a damn shame.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2012


9048 Comments


This dude needs to go Beastmode again

gabethepiratesquid
June 23rd 2012


4521 Comments


poor BoB, this basically made him completely fall out of relevancy.

Riano
June 25th 2012


16 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Most boring thing i heard all year

chesse13
July 23rd 2012


3723 Comments


The Notorious B.O.B

Digging: -

LifeAsAChipmunk
July 23rd 2012


4854 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This guy is a but underrated but I feel like I won't like the rest of this album.

Storm In A Teacup
June 27th 2013


13149 Comments


wow one year later and this album clearly didn't catch on at all

thepaintedalice
April 8th 2014


109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review



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