Thursday, May 31, 2012
"B.o.B - Strange Clouds" Review by Dom
B.o.B is a multi-instrumentalist and rapper from Atlanta, GA. Strange Clouds is his highly anticipated sophomore album following his acclaimed debut: The Adventures of Bobby Ray. Now B.o.B has stated this album would be more pop-oriented and less rap-oriented and after listening to the album this is definitely not an understatement. Now to the track-by-track.
1. Bombs Away (featuring Morgan Freeman)- The song starts off with a spoken word intro by the amazing Morgan Freeman and leads into a very promising opening track. Not only is the song catchy, the rapped verses are excellent and it just sets the tone for the album.
2. Ray Bands- The promising opening track leads into a song that isn't on par with the first track. The song is one of those typical pop-rap songs,almost no substance in the content. To it's credit, the chorus is fun and it definitely succeeds at doing what it's meant to do, be a chill party song.
3. So Hard to Breathe- One of the slower tracks, this one got my attention right away, one of my favorite tracks on his debut was the slowest on the album, "Ghost in the Machine". This man knows how to make a slow, deep song, especially when it covers the struggles he deals with. The chorus is just fantastic.
4. Both of Us (featuring Taylor Swift)- Well if this isn't on the poppier side of B.o.B, I don't know what is. It's a decent song, one could see it becoming a huge radio hit, especially with Miss Swift contributing vocals. In that lies the songs downfall, the song seems more like a Taylor Swift song with some verses from B.o.B on it, while the verses are adequate the focal point seems to be Taylor's chorus.
5. Strange Clouds (featuring Lil Wayne)- The first single released from the album, it was actually released almost 6 months before the album dropped. It's a straight pop-rap party song, it succeeds at that. That being said, Lil Wayne's verse is not only unnecessary but it's also a below-par verse. Overall, it's not a bad song but it doesn't get played much anymore.
6. So Good- Yet again, another pop-rap song. This one though is much better than the rest out there, the chorus is infectious and contagious. There's not much to say about this one, fun lyrics, definitely a song to blast when you're in the car with the windows down during the summer.
7. Play for Keeps- B.o.B returns to rapping on this one, his beat choice on this track is pretty fantastic. It does make one start to wonder if he's putting on a front, talking about how hard he is on this track but then with the other songs on this album we have a lot of soft songs. Regardless, this song is to the level of songs off his debut and especially of his earlier mixtapes.
8. Arena (featuring T.I. and Chris Brown)- This track, to me, reminds me of the song "Lighters" from Bad Meets Evil. On this track you have to rappers that you know can spit rhymes just like Royce and Em, then you have a pop artist with a great voice coming in and doing the soft chorus, this song has Chris Brown, "Lighters" had Bruno Mars. That being said this song is good, not fantastic, maybe this will be a preview of the B.o.B/T.I. album that is being rumored.
9. Out of My Mind (featuring Nicki Minaj)- Back to rap, this time Nicki Minaj is here to help. This has become one of my more favorite tracks on this album. Definitely is experimental, this is probably the first song on the album that I really can't see on the radio but with Nicki on it it will definitely get some attention, and it deserves it.
10. Never Let You Go (featuring Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic)- Just when it seems he settles into rapping he comes back with a pop song. Now B.o.B has worked with OneRepublic before, he did a verse on the remix version of "Good Life". While it's not a standout track, it's appeal is easy to see.
11. Chandelier (featuring Lauriana Mae)- This is a feature where I actually am not familiar with the artist so I didn't know what to expect. She's got a good voice, it fits with the song, to me though, the chorus doesn't make a lot of sense: "Hold me when I'm down, bury my soul underneath the ground, let my blood keep pumping, heart keep beating, shining like a chandelier", to me it just seems quickly thrown together.
12. Circles- I can't even call this one pop-rap, this is straight pop and it takes the crown of worst song on the album. The lyrics aren't great, the beat is lacking and it just falls flat on it's face.
13. Just a Sign (featuring Playboy Tre)- These two have worked together before, on the song "Bet I" from B.o.B's debut album. This time around the tone is completely different. The song is slacking, the chorus is boring, as is the song overall.
14. Castles (featuring Trey Songz)- A good featured artist, fits perfectly with the song. This one's like "So Good" in the way that it's got a summer, feel good feel to it. Just a song to chill too and be happy.
15. Where Are You (B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray)- This song was a surprise to me, it's a self-reflective song but from the perspective of fans. It's similar to "Stan" by Eminem in it's subject matter but it's a different song all together. It's a slower song, mostly just a piano and B.o.B's vocals, the song is ironically about B.o.B's transformation into a pop artist over a rapper. It's not only one of the better songs on the album but it's very interesting, especially as the album closer, it leaves the question in your mind of what direction will he go with his next album?
Overall- It's a good album, not to the degree of his debut album but going into it I knew it wouldn't be. While it won't be herald as a classic in 10 years it's definitely a worthwhile album to pick up. For his rap fans, I guess we'll have to wait for his mixtape, that seems to be where he raps more.