Can I be honest with my readers for a second?
B.o.B.’s album history, to me, is a bit on the sketchy side to me.
Allow me to elucidate.
With no preamble I can say that I loved his [B.o.B.’s] debut studio album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray from the first moment I heard it. It was a juggernaut of an album that was piloted to greatness by singles such as “Airplanes”, “Nothin’ On You”, “Bet I”, “Magic”, and “Don’t Let Me Fall”. Even the tracks that weren’t released as singles had an inherent greatness to them.
For me, Strange Clouds was OK. I say this mostly because I was roundly irritated by the Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj features (“Strange Clouds” and “Outta My Mind”, respectively). I was very intrigued by the Morgan Freeman narrated “Bombs Away” and the Taylor Swift assisted “Both Of Us”. Aside from that, I mostly don’t listen to that album all that much.
This leads me to Underground Luxury. They say third time’s the charm. It was this proverb (or whatever it is) that made me venture to listen.
The first three tracks are generally well received by me.
“All I Want” is the introspections of a wealthy person who dreamed of having it all and now has the means to have just that. B.o.B. vocalizes and raps well about this subject. The production has a certain swelling value to it that I love. “One Day” is a piano driven track that seems to compliment the previous track. This time it takes more of a rags to riches tact. The aforementioned piano is the punctuation to the lines B.o.B. flows. “Paper Route” is more in line with a hip-hop track it has more of a heavy bass centered beat and more expletives. But it has all the unmistakable earmarks of a hustling anthem. The title gives us another way to say “the grind” or “the hustle”
I listened to more but I won’t talk about those songs.
What I will discuss is the track “Throwback”. There is a repetitive sample at the beginning that almost a chant or something akin to that. It’s a sexualized track, truthfully. But as with most tracks like it, it’s insanely catchy. This one features Chris Brown both rapping and singing. It’s definitely worth a listen.
“Back Me Up” is my current favorite. There is something almost entrancing about the beat on this one. I want to call it eerie but I think that may not be the best word for it. I love the rhyming on this one as well as the repeated refrain of each side ‘backing him up’. If I were to make this music video it would be dark and melodic, a lot like the song itself.
I would also suggest listening to “Headband”, “Still In This Bitch”, and “John Doe” to name a few.
I went into this review with no expectations. Leave it to B.o.B. to exceed those expectations and give a strong third effort that makes me place it with his debut and think on it fondly.
-written by Lucius Black for Street Thoughts/Royalty Magazine 2013