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Ether Review

by Andy Kellman

B.o.B. starts his first independent album with a lyrical collage of sorts. It quotes and addresses negative feedback received from temporary fans, terminal detractors and, as part of the media fallout from tweeting his belief that the earth is flat, folks who previously didn't know him from an OutKast song. As he repeats the feedback, switching voice from thought to thought, he sounds embittered and bewildered rather than parodic. The feeling continues into "E.T.," which begins with him lamenting "I feel like I don't belong" and increases in intensity through lines such as "Yeah, so join the B.o.B. hate fest" and "Unexplained things goin' in my strange brain." Later in the set, he addresses the grave mistreatment of his community, voices his pro-weed/anti-prescription drugs stance (in humorous style), and mockingly compares footage from the Apollo 11 landing to that of Amateur Night at the Apollo. Through vices, he achieves escape, but it's fleeting. Buried toward the end is "Avalanche," the album's most notable track. Some of its sentiments are likewise easy to miss, masked by B.o.B.'s free and easy, sing-songy vocal. Over a plinking keyboard melody and booming beat, B.o.B. bravely begins with "I got a new confession/I battle with depression." It leads into a chorus that in just about any other context would come across as celebratory; here, it has a way of signifying dejection. Once "Big Kids" ends the album on a wistful, bittersweet note -- similar to a portion of Heart Blanche, guest vocalist CeeLo Green's 2015 album -- it's hard not to feel empathetic toward B.o.B., despite the album's prevailing acidic nature and quantity of tepid trap productions.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
B.o.B 02:10 Amazon
B.o.B 03:29 Amazon
B.o.B 03:43 Amazon
B.o.B 04:17 Amazon
B.o.B 02:52 Amazon
B.o.B 03:24 Amazon
B.o.B 04:14 Amazon
B.o.B 03:23 Amazon
B.o.B 03:52 Amazon
B.o.B 03:28 Amazon
B.o.B 03:51 Amazon
B.o.B 03:32 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick