Tuesday, 8 May 2012
REVIEW: B.O.B.-STRANGE CLOUDS
A Good Strange.
'The Adventures Of Bobby Ray' really took B.O.B. places. The ATL rapper with the regular Joe name became a superstar after his number one debut album, garnering huge returns, Grammy credits and even an 'Adidas' endorsement. This was all thanks to the huge, feel-good Summer smash with fellow then-megastar-to-be Bruno Mars; 'Nothing On You', a crossover takeoff with Hayley Williams of Paramore ('Airplanes' (with an even better Eminem part 2)) and some more mainstream 'Magic' with Weezer forever young, man-child Rivers Cuomo. It was little wonder this alternative rapper leapfrogged over his peers Lupe Fiasco and Kid Cudi and made his own money in the rap-rich city of Atlanta standing next to the cities last biggest star and the king of the south T.I. (literally in concert, B.O.B. is signed to Tip's Grand Hustle imprint) and fellow 'B.O.B.'s and legends OutKast.
Now Bobby Simmons is more than a NBA player namesake. Now comes the sequel...and 'Strange Clouds' doesn't disappoint. Showing his talent hasn't dispersed after two years and mixtapes since his 2010 breakthrough and groundbreaking album. It's clear to see that after all his success Bobby Ray has a lot more new friends as everyone from country star Taylor Swift (on the brilliant and beautiful partnership of 'Both Of Us') to movie legend Morgan Freeman are welcome guest on this ecletic piece. it's one Wyclef Jean collabo away from being 'ecelftic'. It's the worlds best narrator Morgan Freeman's deep baritone "As the war between light and darkness continues, heroes and villains become harder to identify" intro to this album on 'Bombs Away' that really makes the record and shows just how good B.O.B.'s pull really is. Don't get two excited the man who played Nelson Mandela is not rapping (thoughts of Biggie's "more gone than Freeman" anybody?), still you will enjoy the sound of Morgan's voice on this one. it's the best rap guest spot since ATL rapper Ludacris brought Ving Rhames and Chris Rock in on the same album.
'So Good' is exactly that, the feel-good track of the year and best since Bob's Bruno collabo, while 'Play For Keeps' gives this album and its artist more. 'Ray Bands' is as cool as the Lupe assisted 'Past My Shades' of ray's first album, while the sophomore single and introspective 'So Hard To Breathe' is so much more. The album-title track with Lil' Wayne is of course a big record as is the Young Money expense account, superstar Nicki Minaj assisted 'Out Of My Mind' in all it's classic craziness. Even though Drake's fabulous 'Fancy' hit and it's sample of a verse by B.O.B.'s mentor T.I.'s 'Play My Guitar' was left off the final cut, the huge 'Arena' with T.I. and Chris Brown more than makes up.
Ryan Tedder offers more to 'Never Let You Go', while Lauriana Mae gives beauty and shine to 'Chandelier'. The cut 'Circles' keeps this C.D. spinning around while the Playboy Tre assisted 'Just A Sign' is foretelling. B.O.B. may be far from the conscious level of Nas (no offence but who is?), but he gets his 'Nastradamus' on saying "Looking at the world from my rear view/Searching for an answer up high/Or is it all wasted time?/Everything is crumbling around me/Feels like the ending of the times/Or is it all just a sign?". It's clear to hear our man is getting older, deeper and better.
Then on this more than sand strong piece the rapper builds 'Castles' with platinum prince Trey Songz before performing an almost 'T.I. vs T.I.P.' conflict homage with the conflicted and introspective 'Where Are You (B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray)'. 'Back It Up for Bobby', 'What Are We Doing', 'Ms. Professional' and the Roscoe dash invited 'Guest List' give the iTunes babies more bounce for their downloading ounce, still it's the Nelly assisted jam 'MJ' that really is the bonus. As the past and current pop/rap kings get their Michael Jordan on passing the rhyme and the ball it's clear the torch has been passed. B.O.B. is still balling after his rookie of the year success. He's in his own lane and it's clear to hear the game belongs to him now. TIM DAVID HARVEY.