Single Review: B.o.B. ft. Hayley Williams – ‘Airplanes’

I have another confession – I hate rap music.

In a world where a sudden onslaught of ‘rap stars’ have decided to jump out of the abyss and raid the charts, it’s hard to wonder what makes one stand out from the others… Exactly what gives a rap star credibility? We can’t measure it by longevity because they’re only new artists who aren’t established enough to measure it that way. So maybe we could delve into the content of their lyrics? Yes, let’s do that. Surely a rapper with something important and globally appealing to rap about would stand out?

Well, Tinie Tempah is a new artist – he raps stuff like this “She looks delicious” and “Would you risk it for a chocolate biscuit?”; clearly his raps are about how girls remind him of various foodstuffs, right? So it’s basically girls then?

And then there’s Professor Green, a man who’s helium-voiced rapping and sample nabbing can split opinions faster than the turn-styles at London Underground. What does this fresh face rap about? Governmental wrongs? Political inefficiencies? Nope… it’s girls too.

And there’s also Pitbull, who had his breaththough last year with his third album ‘Rebelution’. Pitbull likes to rap about making love in hotels, motels and holidays inns… I’m pretty sure he’s not planning on doing this to men so I guess it’s girls for him too.

And then everything looked like it was going to get worse when the far too cuddly Bruno Mars collaborated with another new rap artist in the form of B.o.B. himself on ‘Nothin’ On You’: a wishy-washy, half pop/half hip-hop record which was about…? Yes! You’ve got it! That was about just one girl though… we’re going in the right direction here, aren’t we? As opposed to the lyrics of infidelity which riddled the records of Pitbull, Professor Green and Tinie Tempah, B.o.B. was focused on one woman alone. How faithful.

And now we have the muchly lovely follow-up ‘Airplanes’, what’s this about? Well if it was a Pitbull, Professor Green and Tinie Tempah record it would probably be about makin’ da lurrve in the plane’s bogs. But no, it’s a true rap song: one that doesn’t just regurgitate clichéd lyrics about making love to as many woman as possible and how “I won’t even miss her when I’m done with her” – this sounds like an Eminem B-Side, and a good one at that.

The beautiful Hayley Williams opens the song with her usual ‘filled-with-emotion’ vocals, setting the melancholy tone for the song, accompanied by a mournful piano track and marching claps.

Once B.o.B comes in, it’s obvious we’re in for something more realistic and painfully truthful than the dream world he and Bruno created on ‘Nothin’ On You’. He raps about the realisation that partying and girls are not the real route to happiness – he’s squandered his life and wants to return back to the time when music meant something, to do this, he’s wishing he could make politics right their wrongs as well as pleading against the harsh reality that everything will eventually be forgotten.

Just to re-iterate some of the lines from the song: 

“Cause after all the partyin’ and smashin’ and crashin’/
And all the glitz and the glam and the fashion/
And all the pandemonium and all the madness/
There comes a time where you fade into the blackness”.

Now that has to be some of the most moving lines heard in a rap song that aren’t from the chorus, which incidentally is also amazing – “Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?/I could really use a wish right now”. Sung with Hayley’s signature muornful-but-optomistic voice which has the unique quality to sound both confused as well as sad, with a bit of exasperation for good measure. And B.o.B must get his credit too – he’s not just churning off these deeply moving lyrics in a robotic, rhythmic fashion in an attempt to win the ‘Who Can Rap The Fastest’ competition, he’s putting emotion into his lyrics too – something to note about this is whilst many song use guest singers on the chorus to create the emotion and the catchy hook, a lot never really continue the emotion through the rapped verses, they just talk fast, but emotion is something B.o.B excels himself at on ‘Airplanes’.

I’d say he even raps a bit like Eminem on this one – conveying the mood of the song in every line – every word even – and creating a song focusing on a subject with more depth than partying, something less shallow than just girls… something real. This has to be one of the best raps songs ever written, but as with all songs: There is ONE HUGE FAULT.

It’s just too short.

Rating: 5.0 STARS

Download: June 28, 2010, (OUT NOW) DOWNLOAD IT NOW WHY AREN’T YOU DOING IT!?!?!?

Featured Album: ‘The Adventures Of Bobby Ray’

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