In Defense of... B.o.B's "Strange Clouds (feat. Lil Wayne)"

B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray was one of my favorite albums last year. The album's thematic diversity, B.o.B's keen verses and the ensemble of guest vocalists provided a lot of personality. Hell, Bobby Ray would have been my favorite hip-hop album of 2010 if Kanye didn't swipe the mic at the end of the year with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

B.o.B's sophomore album, Strange Clouds, is scheduled to release in Spring. The titular first single features Deep-South-style production that invites a dubstep remix with jammed printers and horny cats.

This time around, though, the introspective Georgian's verses are more boastful than some of his listeners are accustomed to.

I'm not as dejected, though, 'cause it's not like partying and weed is a new topic for B.o.B.

Despite the more "commercial" approach in the single, he brings the same lyrical wit he's displayed before. Only one other rapper I know has rhymed about '90s figure skating ("I'mma hit her with that pipe/call that Nancy Kerrigan") and no one that comes to mind has made an analogy with the culinary arts ("I'm Top Chef/ you Top Ramen").

See? B.o.B's still the same guy. Just with more power.

While Lil Wayne isn't as consistently good as most emcees on the scene, his ubiquity compels me to chime in. If Weezy were an element, he'd be air -- and it would smell like weed all the time.

Weezy's verse here is a bit so-so. He's got one good line, though, thanks to a swimming metaphor ("I dive in that pussy/ yeah, I belly flop, I jackknife"). All I'm saying? More rappers need to rhyme about obscure sports more often.

Otherwise, I don't see a need to worry about B.o.B losing his meditative side. If Strange Clouds is anything like Bobby Ray, There's probably gonna be a bit more variety than this first single suggests.

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Shahryar Rizvi
Contact: Shahryar Rizvi