B.o. B. & Taylor Swift
Both of Us
Album: Strange Clouds
B.o. B. speaks up for people who live hand to mouth in the odd “Both of Us.”
A rosy guitar opens the single, setting an idealistic tone. In the chorus, Taylor Swift says she wish she could have the power to help those in need. (“I wish I was strong enough to lift not one but both of us/Someday I will be strong enough to lift not one but both of us.”)
Then, a scratching beat crashes the single, causing whiplash.
Growing up, he watched his neighbors get their cars respossessed. They had to choose between paying grocery the bill or the car payment that month. He heard his mother battle with the landlord over the rent, explaining she would have the money then and scramble for every dollar, working every chance she could. In one his friend’s apartment, they would be a lottery ticket stuck to the bulletin board. His parents would discuss what they would do with jackpot if they won it. He and his friend would check the refrigerator for something to eat. In it, there was a drop of milk in the carton and some lunch meat. As he watches the television news, it aggravates him to see a five minute recap of the fashions at an award show on several stations and not even a blurb on how the city plans to give jobs to its people. Everyone matters and should have a chance to make something of themselves. (“Uh, ever thought about losing it/When your money's all gone and you lose your whip/You might lose your grip when the landlord tell ya that you're due for rent/
And the grass so green on the other side/Make a n**** wanna run straight through the fence/Open up the fridge 'bout twenty times/But still can't find no food in it/That's foolishness/And sometimes I wonder, why we care so much about the way we look/And the way we talk and the way we act and the clothes we bought, how much that cost/Does it even really matter?/Cause if life is an up hill battle/We all tryna climb with the same ol' ladder/In the same boat, with the same ol' paddle/Why so shallow? I'm just asking/What's the pattern to the madness/Everybody ain't a number one draft pick/Most of us ain't Hollywood actors.”)
In the pre-chorus, he tells people they need to speak up and pay attention to how their senators and house representatives view them. Voting out those who view the citizens of districts as peons could be a start. (“But if it's all for one, and one for all/Then maybe one day, we all can ball/Do it one time for the underdogs/Sincerely yours, from one of y'all.”)
The chorus is sung again.
He can relate to those who live paycheck to paycheck. Traveling to an amusement park in anotehr state means saving up for weeks for gas, food and a hotel to stay for the night. It has to be worked in the budget, allowing for a bill to be paid late. There is never enough and a savings account is a pipe dream. He wants people to know that they are others out there who are having a hard time. He stresses that they are not invisible and encourages them to rise above the limitations set for them. Every person doesn’t have the same opportunities available to them. He was lucky and was given the chance to express himself. However, he knows it could’ve turned out the opposite. He would start all over and make everything fair. (“ I can feel your pain, I can feel your struggle/You just wanna live, but everything so low/That you could drown in a puddle/That's why I gotta hold us up, yeah hold us up/For all the times no one's ever spoke for us/To every single time that they play this song/You can say that that's what Bobby Ray wrote for us/When the tides get too high/And the sea up underneath get so deep/And you feel like you're just another person/Getting lost in the crowd, way up high in the nosebleeds/Uh, because we've both been there, yeah, both of us/But we still stand tall with our shoulders up/And even though we always against the odds/These are the things that've molded us/And if life hadn't chosen us/Sometimes I wonder where I would've wound up/Cause if it was up to me, I'd make a new blueprint/Than build it from the ground up, hey.”)
The pre-chorus and chorus are sung again to end the single.
Swift’s optimistic, deadpan vocals are memorized, a prepared speech she was ready to give once the host of the beauty pageant asks what her dream would be. As she waves to the crowd and smiles wide, she wonders if she received enough points from her answer to get the crown.
B.o.B’s. impassioned, heated vocals are genuine as he aims to reach people and get them to think. He’s ticked at the current attitude of those in power. He is able to relate which lets him gets his point across. Unfortunately, it’s undermined by Swift who is out of her element.
The well-meaning “Both of Us” is an unintentional parody of social commentary.