Review Summary: B.o.B is stongly and rapidly progressing, however he needs to utilize the talent he is getting on his collaborations.
Who knew the classic quote "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" can apply to music as well? If we look at B.o.B, whose previous album The Adventures of Bobby Ray
was widely successful, we can see this quote coming to fruition. The album boasted three successful singles which employed hybrids of hip-hop. These singles, "Nothing On You (ft. Bruno Mars)", "Airplanes (ft. Hayley Williams)", and "Magic", merged the musical cultures of alternative music, and hip hop into one artist rarely found in the scene. What makes B.o.B special is that he has a grasp on all types of music, with an undeniable pop sensibility. His newest album Strange Clouds
is no exception. The new work continues on his successful formula, of combining genres with more focus on rap and pop than on his previous record. The result is still widely entertaining, and the young rapper shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Compared to The Adventures of Bobby Ray
, Strange Clouds
shows more rap tendencies with a pop sensibility. The results are a multitude of generic lyricism, however simply catchy tracks. On club track "Ray Bands", he shows his ability to write a strong hook. The track is complete with a pumping bass line, and every intention of getting the listener(s) dancing in a club. On lead single "Strange Clouds", Lil-Wayne brings his raps (talents?) to the track. But the sheer highlights are B.o.B's verses complete with many tag lines to fill hot topic t-shirts, and the catchy as hell chorus about the typical rap star life. Tracks like these two fill the record to make the record an enjoyable listen.
Unfortunately, as fun of a listen as this record can be, it would not be complete without its fair share of complete bad filler tracks. On "So Hard To Breathe", the raps are solid, but ruined by a chorus ruined by his screechy crooning about how the paparazzi is drowning him.
There are also tracks that have potential, but ultimately fall flat on their face. "Both Of Us" features country pop star Taylor Swift. Not to say the track is bad. The strong rap verses compliment well with the dialed down vocal performance from T-Swift. However it is just an uneventful collaboration, that had the potential to be great. The track seems to steal too much influence from "Airplanes" off previous record. It's been heard before, and a waste of a probable large amount of time. On "Arena" which features Chris Brown, and one of B.o.B's past mentors T.I., he runs into the same problem. These blown collaborations, are sad considering they had potential to be superb.
However, as stated earlier, B.o.B has many redeeming qualities. His best one is his wide awareness of different styles of music. On intro track "Bombs Away" the young star implements different styles such as chip-tune, rock, opera, and obviously hip hop to create a complete sonic masterpiece. Plus, it features the legend Morgan Freeman himself to narrate an awesome introduction, and closer to the track that has nothing to do with the track or the album as a whole. However it is still an excellent listen. Also on stand out track "So Good" he uses island style musical influences, to create a Utopian paradise experience.
B.o.B is clearly on to something. Knowingly or not, he fills an apparent niche in the music industry for genre collaborative hip hop. On his second full length effort we see his maturation on most tracks to create an overall great listen. He is progressing and this album shows evidence of that. He still has a little bit of work to do utilizing his collaborative guests to their maximum abilities. And when/if that day comes, we may have a potential legend on our hands.
"All we do is pour it up, all night, drinks out. And all we do is light it up, All we see is strange clouds"