B.o.B. - Ether
So there aren't to many B.o.B. fans left these days. Not only because his blend of pop and Hip-Hop is really out of fashion but also his Flat Earth and other conspiracy theories have pulled his mental state into question. He has been a blog favorite because of his out there views, and where promotion from his label began to fade He still made headlines pushing his latest theory. What you will not find on this new album Ether, is the Pop that made him famous; instead you'll find trap beats are a plenty and self reflection as the main topic of conversation. The over six minute "Middle Man/ Mr. Mister" has B.o.B. giving you his manifesto, which is boring to say the least. The novelty of B.o.B. the conspiracy theorist fades away rather quickly and the album we are left with is fine if not uninspired. "Peace Piece" takes on the idea of Making America Great Again and actually sounds like something Frank Ocean might do, yet not quite to that level. That is the thing you find with this record, there are a lot of really interesting musical ideas but they never really fully express themselves. "Finesse" has this really cool electronic beat underneath it, but the lyrics and delivery don't quite give you what you are looking for and you can't shake the idea that in the hands of another rapper these tracks would really soar.
Young Thug delivers one of the oddest features on "Xantastic" and then for some reason B.o.B. begins his verse singing in the same autotuned style. It is just so off. "Tweakin" is similarly fucking weird, but almost in an entirely pointless way. The out there beat doesn't serve the song and B.o.B. is not able to capitalize. Despite not being in the public eye as of late B.o.B. is able to bring in some real heavy hitters for features with TY Dolla $ign, T.I., Young Thug and Usher. "Substance Abuse" is the one track where everything actually works for B.o.B., he is able to get out his message, the beat serve the lyrics and He feels incredibly confident and skillful even though the outro is a bit heavy handed. "Avalanche" is as close to his former style as B.o.B. gets and its a fine track but doesn't really move the needle either way. The albums closer "Big Kids" is so overly sappy and this message of us all being big kids feels like such well worn territory it is odd B.o.B. would even go there. The album clearly shows that B.o.B. is trying to change his sound and his image for that matter, but the growing pains make it clunky and it does not deliver on some of the promises it makes.
6.7 out of 10