It was clear from the first B.o.B. mixtape release that he was unlike any other rapper in the game. Much like when he debuted in 2010, with The Adventures of Bobby Ray, B.o.B. is a breath of fresh air when hip hop needs it the most. A year after the release of his debut album, B.o.B., who had been out of the public eye, revealed he was close to completing his second album and would soon have new music.
Days later, B.o.B. returned with “Strange Clouds,” eventually revealed to be the title track of the album. The single went with the status quo, featuring Lil Wayne. While Lil Wayne was featured on “Strange Clouds,” B.o.B. was clearly the lead artist. Dominating tracks is something B.o.B. does, from the start of the album on “Bombs Away,” which features an intro voiced by none other than Morgan Freeman.
True lyricism is something hip hop has been missing and it is something often discussed, but what is overlooked is the overall talent that has been missing. Much longer than hip hop has been without lyricism, hip hop has been without true talented entertainers. B.o.B. returns in time to deliver much more than “swag,” as he provides real lyricism and also displays a harmonic singing voice which could give Drake a run for his money. The opening tracks of Strange Clouds display the overall talent B.o.B. has.
Alternative rap has a gaping hole, which B.o.B. has been filling since the release of his debut album. Often, the Atlanta rapper is compared to Andre 3000. While he is comparable to Three Stacks, B.o.B. establishes a style all of his own on Strange Clouds, evidenced on such tracks as “So Hard to Breathe,” another track where B.o.B. alternates between rapping and singing with no trouble. More impressive than B.o.B.’s ability to change his style at the drop of a hat is the diversity featured on Strange Clouds. The guests on Strange Clouds range from T.I. and Chris Brown to Taylor Swift. The type of collaborator changes, but B.o.B. shines through on each track, all of which are impressive.
Strange Clouds is admirable from the start, as the album starts off slow, with “Bombs Away,” featuring the commentary from Morgan Freeman, flowing directly into “Ray Bands,” then the tempo begins to pick up pace going into “So Hard to Breathe” and “Both of Us,” which features Taylor Swift, and then B.o.B. drops the listeners into his singles, “Strange Clouds” and “So Good.” Days before the release of Strange Clouds, B.o.B. said on Twitter it was the album of the year. While 2012 is only five months old, no album has come close to what B.o.B. delivered with Strange Clouds, an album which is defiant, different, yet confident at the same time.
B.o.B. is a misfit, he knows it, and he does not care, displaying his “B.o.B.-isims” throughout the album. It is those “B.o.B.-isims” that make B.o.B. the artist he is, which is why the fans keep coming back. With this album, B.o.B. also has the chance to win many non-B.o.B. fans over, as the album is what hip hop has been waiting for. As for the city of Atlanta, it is another win, as Future released his Pluto album less than a month ago and B.o.B. has delivered his album, which is likely to be a big commercial success.
Hip Hop Vibe’s Rating: 9/10