Today marks the official release date of B.o.B’s sophomore album, Strange Clouds. If you read this blog with any sort of regularity, you probably know by now that I’m a big fan of Bobby Ray. I think he’s an unbelievable performer, he plays multiple instruments and is musically talented in a way that most hip-hop stars are not, and he can also rap with the best of them. On top of all that, he’s always looking out for his fans and releasing free mixtapes. My one complaint that I began to notice was that his mixtapes appeared to be more for his “true fans,” while his album(s) went the more mainstream direction. What does that actually mean? His mixtapes had a bit of everything: hip-hop and pop, heavier beats and lighter melodies. His first album was very one-sided. It stuck to the radio-friendly poppier songs. And as much as I loved The Adventures of Bobby Ray, I didn’t think he did a great job of really showing off the range of his talents.
My biggest concern was that this album would follow the same formula as his first. And when he released ‘Both Of Us’ featuring Taylor Swift, I was certain my suspicions would be correct. But after a couple listen throughs, I was proven wrong. And I couldn’t be happier about it. When you listen to tracks like ‘Bombs Away’ I can’t help but be reminded of older B.o.B from the days of B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray. Then you put on ‘Both Of Us’ and you get that poppy feeling and just know that it’s sure to hit the radio. So he really covers all the styles that he’s shown us in the past through his mixtapes and his first album. But then you hear a track like ‘Out Of My Mind’ featuring Nicki Minaj, and you don’t know what to think because it’s some brand new version of B.o.B that we haven’t heard before. His versatility throughout this entire album is what makes me immediately fall in love with it. Once I get passed that fact, I can then start appreciating everything else that makes this album great: the amazing production, the star studded cast, the catchy beats/melodies, and the story-like commentary in his lyrics.
Although this is only his second album, B.o.B is far from new to the scene, and his experience really paid off with this one. Strange Clouds has everything and more that fans have come to expect from Bobby Ray. So make sure you pick it up on iTunes, because this is an album that will be talked about the rest of this year.
With the release of Strange Clouds just around the corner, B.o.B is giving us something to be excited for. The latest single, ‘So Hard To Breathe,’ is said to be Bobby Ray’s favorite off the album. So far, I have to agree with him. This is what B.o.B does so well. He bends genres that mold into something brand new and completely his own. The light acoustic guitar at the beginning is a pretty serious juxtaposition to the angrier sounding verses about the struggles of stardom. But that’s what makes this track so great; it gives us signs of alternative rock with the guitar and the hook (which B.o.B sings himself), while still sticking to the hip-hop roots that you would expect from, well, a hip-hop artist.
This is the best we’ve heard from B.o.B and Strange Clouds, but I have a feeling we’re in for some great surprises come May 1st.
B.o.B – So Hard To Breathe [audio http://themusicish.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/bob-so-hard-to-breathe-hiphopearly-t12567.mp3]
There are a lot of unexpected things about this song. First, I never would have expected country star Taylor Swift to team up with Atlanta hip-hop star/musician/singer/songwriting B.o.B. Second, after getting passed the fact that B.o.B is on a track with Taylor Swift, I never could have imagined genuinely liking it. I mean, I do love Bobby Ray more than you’re average music fan. But I also dislike Taylor Swift more than your average music fan. So the fact that I really do like this song, and all it’s various components, is something of a surprise to me.
Set to be on B.o.B’s upcoming Strange Clouds album, ‘Both Of Us’ starts off as what you would imagine your typical Taylor Swift country track would be. But it quickly drops into an unreal verse from B.o.B. The back and forth duet between the two artists makes for a track that can make country and hip-hop fans alike really enjoy it all the way through.
Strange Clouds is set to drop May 1st. So be on the lookout, but let this hold you over till then.
[audio http://themusicish.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/bob-ft-taylor-swift-both-of-us-hiphopearly-t12456.mp3] B.o.B – Both Of Us (Feat. Taylor Swift)
Since B.o.B “went mainstream” he’s received a lot of criticism. I’d like to go ahead and say that he hasn’t gone mainstream just because he has some tracks that are radio hits. Isn’t it every musicians dream to hear their song on the radio. If people criticize an artist for going mainstream because they start hearing it on the radio, then what’s the point of making music. All the radio does is get the music to the masses, and if it’s not an artists goal to have as many people as possible listen to their music, then they are destined for a failed career. Bobby Ray definitely has some softer, radio friendly tracks, but he still releases mixtapes, still throws down some hard and heavy hip-hop verses on a lot of his tracks, and he produces some of the best melodies and beats in hip-hop. He’s come a long way since The Future and Cloud 9 (his first few mixtapes). And some may see that as a bad thing, but I’m glad to see an artist progress and continue to push boundaries and change their style around. It keeps an artist interesting and relevant.
B.o.B’s newest track, ‘Where Are You (B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray),’ is a reflection of his progression as an artist, and a lot of the criticism he’s received from a lot of critics. It starts off and almost seems like an apology. But I think it’s really him saying that this is who he is, this is where his music is going, and he doesn’t care about the critics, as long as he believes in the music he’s making and his fans are behind him. It’s a smooth, jazzy track with some really meaningful lyrics. B.o.B has always put together very coherent, intelligent tracks, and this is no different. Great melody, great beat, great lyrics. Everything you’d expect from B.o.B.
Pick up the track on iTunes, and be on the lookout for Strange Clouds, dropping May 1st.
[audio http://themusicish.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/bob-where-are-you-bob-vs-bobby-ray-hiphopearly-t11993.mp3] B.o.B – Where Are You (B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray)
‘Strange Clouds’ has attracted some pretty solid artists. The original featured a couple verses from Lil Wayne, and now the remix picked up T.I. and Young Jeezy. I don’t really know which version I like better, but both of them have that lovely, dubstep-influenced beat, and a catchy hook from Bobby Ray himself. Strange Clouds is also the title of B.o.B’s forthcoming album, which is set to release on March 13th. This track will be making lots of noise till the album comes out, so definitely don’t pass this one up.
[audio http://themusicish.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/bob-ft-ti-young-jeezy-strange-clouds-remix-hiphopearly-t10835.mp3] Download ‘Strange Clouds (Remix)’