Being a recording artist can be a gift and a curse and the Georgia-grown rapper is a testament to that. On a hyped label debut, B.o.B instituted the idea of being eclectic, brushing off different strokes that underlined his voice box as an MC and italicized the ingenuity of Bobby Ray, and as much as Strange Clouds tries to trace the double entendre on his opinion of hip-hop, it illuminates confusion. As much as the production is clean and rattles at the right moments (“Bombs Away” is a shadow of “Dark Fantasy”), it bails head first into stadium-groomed contemporary pop (“Both Of Us”, “So Good”), FM-tinged swag (“Arena”) and droned out epileptic fits that test electro and patience (“Out Of My Mind”). The drive behind the album pushes Strange Clouds to be authentic – no one can braid together indie, hip-hop and pop music quite like B.o.B – but between the tightly wound hooks and instrumental lead-ins, it’s hard to determine if he’s “Mr. Right” or “Mr. Right Now”. Then when you listen to the thump of his collab with Lil Wayne on the title track, his recent fine-tuned mixtape efforts (“Things Get Worse”, “Fucked Up”) and the three-minute conscious tear “Play For Keeps”, you’re left hoping his shielded aggression will surface, become intimate and curate his synoptic personality. But it doesn’t; it instead blooms in a more synthetic approach. Like B.o.B muses himself – “the images in your mirror can be bigger than they appear”.
Download: “Play For Keeps”, “Chandelier”
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