Underground Luxury is rapper B.O.B’s third album and features A LOT of collaborations, with T.I, Chris Brown, Future, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, Mike Fresh, Ester Dean and Priscilla all joining the fun (told you it was a lot!). His last album, Strange Clouds, produced 3 multi-platinum singles as well as the album itself becoming gold-certified. Can B.O.B pull off this same success with Underground Luxury?
All I Want was a poor choice to open the album. As a fan stated on the internet, if there was ever a song that said someone had sold out, this is it. The lyrics simply state ‘all I want is money’, ironic considering in one of his first and biggest singles, Airplanes, B.O.B sang ‘Yeah, somebody take me back to the days/Before this was a job, before I got paid/Before it ever mattered what I had in my bank…’ The lyrics are cliche and the song just isn’t great.
The next track, One Day, begins to point the album in the right direction. Beginning with a piano riff, this song describes B.O.B’s tough childhood. With a completely different vibe to All I Want, One Day was unexpected in a good way. Nobody Told Me also hits the right notes, with lyrics that are tinged with bittersweet regret. The key to what makes these songs good and stand out from the rest is that the lyrics obviously have great meaning to B.O.B, and this is gives the songs a different atmosphere to the others.
The ‘others’ I talk about are those eight or so songs that talk about the generic rap themes of girls, sex, smoking illegal substances and use numerous profranities and the word ‘nigga’. In a way I wish I had counted how many times ‘nigga’ was used throughout the album, as I am sure the number would be astonishing. Ready, Throwback, Wide Open, Forever and Cranberry Moonwalk are just some of the offenders of this cliche ghetto rap, and seemingly blend together as one song. Funnily enough, these are most of the collaborations on the album, which makes you wonder if B.O.B should have done away with them altogether.
In saying that, one collaboration stood out to me, and this is my favourite song off the album. John Doe, featuring Priscilla Renea, is the albums next single and my guess is that it will have huge success. Talking about the difficult topic of addictions, this song is more of a pop/rap crossover and features terrific vocals from Priscilla. B.O.B hits the nail on the head with his lyrics, rapping and rhythm, and everything about this song screams number one hit.
The song Coastline reminds us that B.O.B isn’t just a rapper – he can actually sing too. Whilst this song isn’t great, it’s not bad and it shows that he should think about singing more, as well as rapping. This song was a huge contrast to the arrogant FlyMuthaF**ka, which states that people just hate B.O.B because he’s such a fly guy.
Overall I didn’t think this album was great. B.O.B tries too hard to be some generic badass rapper when pop/rap crossovers obviously suit him so much better. Other than John Doe, One Day and Nobody Told Me, the other songs all sound the same, not just as each other but as other rapper’s music as well. B.O.B should look at his previous hit singles to figure out what works for him and what doesn’t.