If you were to take a quick glance at the Billboard Hot 100, you would have no idea that our country is still digging its way out from the biggest pile of economic rubble since the Great Depression. Now, that’s not to say that pop music needs to be anything other than escapist in nature, or that people should be turning to the radio when they feel the need to wallow in depression; after all, that’s what cable news is for! Rather, it’s more to note that most pop-leaning artists (and the labels that support them) have largely turned a blind eye to the recent woes of our country, certainly more so than, say, country-leaning artists have.
Enter B.o.B and Taylor Swift, who collaborated on the song “Both Of Us,” which is the third single of Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr.’s latest LP, Strange Clouds. On an album chock full of supsterstar cameos —shout-out to Morgan Freeman!— this particular pairing on this particular pairing is nothing less than inspired. The song revolves around regular day folk undergoing hardships, like not having enough food in the fridge, or having to make the difficult choice between having their cars repossessed or paying their rent on time, and B.o.B’s hard scrabble rhymes are perfectly accentuated by Taylor’s uplifting lilt on the hook. It’s not exactly what most would describe as a “summer jam,” but truth be told, the way it stands in such contrast to today’s fluffier material is exactly what makes it stand out.