There is an old saying that goes, “all I need is a foot in the door”. The phrase usually comes from someone hungry and hopeful in getting a simple chance in what they love to do. However, what happens when that person has already walked through the door and is just sitting on the couch? Well, established artists usually have much more leeway when it comes to organically creating their music. Take all the major hip-hop stars in the game, they put out albums or projects when they see fit. Now, while B.o.B is a solid star ,he isn’t as established as others. Luckily for him, his label allows him to have creative control over most of his music; having 5 chart topping singles doesn’t hurt either. The success of his first album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray, undoubtedly gave B.o.B and his label some much needed confidence in his music; off that success, it allows Bobby Ray to present us with his second offering, Strange Clouds. The albums release date was May 1st, you ask then why did it take over a week for a review? Ill tell you why, it’s because the type of music presented. I was expecting a very unique and diverse project, but what I got was kind of out there. Now I’m all for different style music, artist like Cee-Lo, KiD CuDi and even Drake bring their own unique style to hip-hop. However, many listeners knock some of these artists, because they feel the music shouldn’t necessarily be considered “Hip-Hop”. Now, I fully respect and agree that B.o.B is extremely talented; however I feel that he is just so creative and so unique that it takes away from him being considered a true hip-hop artist. Let’s dive into the album and see just how strange the clouds really get.
Production – 6.5
When you shuffle through the album as I usually do on first listen, I couldn’t help but think “that’s it?” When you listen to a hip-hop album you expect to hear hard knocking drums, Snares and blaring bass lines the occasional piano key and classic turntable scratches. I have to say that the majority of these elements are absent in B.o.B’s new album. The sound has a much more Popish vibe in my eyes than that of a hip-hop album. The melodies and sounds associated with the project remind me of something I would her from a teenage girl’s car. Dr. Luke and Bobby Ray himself carried the load of the album production wise. Some other notable names on the boards include Sean Garrett and Cirkut. The sounds will definitely appeal to many listeners; I just can’t say that the beats are traditional. However, just like his last album, B.o.B will be all over the radio with his catchy and energetic singles.
Lyrics – 7
I have always liked Bobby Ray’s flow and word play. He keeps it real and stays true to himself, and this album is no different then what I have come to expect from the Grand Hustle superstar. He spits bars like “Since day 1 I said f-ck the fame and everything it dealt But the fame is really here just to facilitate the wealth But the wealth attracts you haters like you mosquitoes to a well,” which lets listeners know that it isn’t about anything but the music for B.o.B. I see him always making the music and art that he feels is best for him. Never falling into the pressure or hate from fans like myself. Some listeners will enjoy the hooks and bridges produced and the project is full of great ones. Not to be out done lyrically though, Bobby Rays shouts, “I’m killin this sh-t n-gga, hands down And I go hard, my passport’s like a postcard Give a f-ck if I’m solo, I’ll go toe to-toe with your whole squad” and even still continues the verse with “I’m throwed off for the most part, A young dog with an old bark Flow dumb, but I’m so smart… I compose art, call me Mozart” Even if I don’t like the sound and overall music, I can never say B.o.B isn’t a musical master with a great feel for lyrics and rhymes.
Songs – 7.5
First off, I have to start by saying this album to me was a bit feature heavy. You have all sorts of people from Taylor Swift to Lil Wayne to Chris Brown, Trey Songz, of course T.I., Nicki Minaj and Ryan Tedder who was on the production, and the list goes on. Some absolutely added to the track, like Trey Songz on “Castles,” T.I. And Chris Brown on “Arena.” After that I would have just done without the rest. Nicki and Taylor are an absolutely no go for me, and Lil Wayne and Playboi Tre just give lackluster verses. I would have liked less of compilation album as most artist like to do nowadays and just kept it in house. I’m not sure if he was trying to have a diverse group of features, and if he did, then he sure accomplished that. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since B.o.B has been known to work with almost everyone in the music industry. I enjoyed the project, but don’t see it as a hip-hop album. I see it as a cross-over effort that will be very well received. It has been featured all over television and radio outlets. I have to say that my favorite joint regardless of the sound feature or anything is “So Good”. Other notables for me are “Never” and “Where Are You (B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray)” where B.o.B addresses his fans personally.
Conclusion – 7
As I have stated a bunch of times, the project is not a traditional hip-hop album. It has a very popish and mainstream sound that is more of a “Strange” kind of project. It is very well put together, meaning the album flows and each track plays off of the next. The sounds (while not my style) are very nice musically. It’s hard for me to say that it’s a bad project just because it’s not hip-hop, it’s just not something I would have on repeat. There is no denying the commercial success the album will have and the positive reception that the project will gain. I can see a bunch of outlets using tracks from the album; The Hunger Games and ESPN’s First Take have all used songs for their soundtracks. I heard something very interesting this weekend; it was an artist who said… As a listener, it is important to keep an open mind and don’t fight the changes and experiments that the genre you love throws at you. It will make those projects that you do love that much better. I think that’s exactly how I feel, I don’t love this project, but I can except it and appreciate the music as great… even if it is not for me.
Review by Edgar Gomez for Defsounds.com