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Both of Us

Strange Clouds (B.o.B. Album) | 2012

“Both of Us” is a song by American rapper B.o.B, released on May 22, 2012, as the third single from his second studio album, Strange Clouds (2012). The song features vocals from Taylor. The artists co-wrote the song alongside Ammar Malik and the song’s producers, Dr. Luke and Cirkut, being the only collaboration between them and Taylor.
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Background and Collaboration

It was Taylor who came up with the idea for the collaboration after she visited B.o.B’s label, Grand Hustle Records. He recounted the story of the song to The Boombox, saying that his collaboration with Taylor began with him getting a text message from someone claiming to be Taylor Swift:

«I was like, 'This isn't Taylor Swift.' She invited me to her show, to bring me out to her show to do 'Airplanes.' Lucky for me, I'm a really trusting person so I moved forward. Usually, if someone's like, 'This is Tupac,' you're gonna be like 'Whatever.' I wasn't in Atlanta at the time so she arranged for me to come to Dallas. I remember I had a show in Alabama and they let me use her tour bus to come to her show in Dallas. When I played her ['Both of Us'] even before the first verse even dropped, she was onboard. She was like, 'I love it already.' I was like 'She'd be perfect for it.' She recorded her vocals in L.A. I recorded my vocals in Atlanta. [When I first heard the song with both our parts] it instantly felt magical. Actually, I had to re-sing some of my parts so they could really blend with her [vocals]. I rewrote one of my verses as well. It started as a blueprint and it really continued to grow into something tremendous.»

This is not the first time Taylor contributed to a hip hop song. Her other collaborations with the Hip-Hop fraternity includes her hook up with T-Pain at the 2009 CMT Awards. It involved her making fun of her squeaky-clean image in the song “Thug Story” (a parody of her hit song “Love Story“). Two years later, Taylor recruited T.I., Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida as surprise guests during her “Speak Now World Tour” (2011-2012).

Lyrical Theme

“Both of Us” is not unlike B.o.B’s biggest hit, “Airplanes,” which features Hayley Williams from Paramore: It gives both stars an opportunity to do what they do best in settings that won’t feel unfamiliar to fans. Taylor sings one of her typically titanic hooks, complete with the romantic yearning that has made her indispensable, over acoustic guitar. Then the beat kicks in and B.o.B gets ruminative, rhyming about poverty, perseverance and the tyranny of self-consciousness:

«It’s not even a song. It’s more like a project. This is bigger than just B.o.B and Tayor Swift. No, this is about all walks of life and all classes of the society. It’s about everybody.»

During another interview, B.o.B said that he was honored to hit the studio with Taylor: “It’s crazy becasue it happened naturally. It wasn’t like the label was like, ‘We need to get a Taylor Swift feature.’ It was really like she hit me up and invited me to come on her set, and I couldn’t make it because I wasn’t in Atlanta at the time, but she actually arranged for me to come to Dallas and she brought me out and I played her the song, she liked it and it naturally happened. That is an element that you don’t see too much, too often in the industry. So I’m glad it happened naturally like that. She hit me up and was like, ‘Hey! I’m in Atlanta.’ I didn’t think she was going to like the song, but she loved it. It turned out tremendous.”

Music Video

The accompanying video, released Wednesday, June 27, 2012, showcases the everyday person living in Nashville, their struggles and their good times. It opens up with B.o.B standing before a small American flag then cuts to Taylor singing the song’s hook in a dark lit pool hall. B.o.B. then takes to the traintracks and streets to deliver his verses while Taylor sings the hook in a pictaresque field while donning a white cotton dress. Footage of the artists is interspliced with scenes of life in Nashville’s less glamorous neighborhoods in attempt to show the life of millions of the real world’s “underdogs.”

Live Performances

Taylor performed the song with B.o.B twice. They first sang it together on December 7, 2012, during the Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The second time they performed “Both of Us” was on April 19, 2013, in the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, when the rapper was invited as a surprise guest for a show on Taylor’s “The RED Tour” (2013-2014). Taylor introduced B.o.B, saying:

«As you may know, Atlanta has quite the music scene. And it turns out that one of my friends is in town. And so I called him up and I said, 'Do you want to be the surprise special guest at my show?' And I know him as Bobby Ray, but the world knows him as B.o.B!»

Critical Reception

“Both of Us” was released to critical acclaim, most praising Taylor’s feature, with some calling the country rap collaboration as a sweet and melodic catchy song.

Commercial Performance

The song was successful in Australia and New Zealand, charting within the top ten in both countries. It debuted on the Australian Singles Chart at No. 46 and eventually peaked at No. 5. The song also peaked at No. 10 in New Zealand. The song sold 143,000 copies in its first week, along with the album release, debuting at No. 18 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and became the week’s top debut. The single sold over 1,000,000 digital copies as of November 2017.


[Chorus: Taylor Swift]
I wish I was strong enough to lift not one but both of us
Some day I will be strong enough to lift not one but both of us

[Verse 1: B.o.B.]
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 uphill 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 for the madness
Everybody ain’t a number one draft pick
Most of us ain’t Hollywood actors
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

[Chorus: Taylor Swift]
I wish I was strong enough to lift not one but both of us
Some day I will be strong enough to lift not one but both of us

[Verse 2: B.o.B.]
I can feel your pain, I can feel your struggle
You just wanna live, been 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 nosebleed
Uh, because we won’t be near yet, 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 have 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
Then build it from the ground up, hey
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
From Bobby Ray, to all of y’all

[Chorus: Taylor Swift]
I wish I was strong enough to lift not one but both of us
Some day I will be strong enough to lift not one but both of us

General Information
FeatureTaylor Swift
ReleasedMay 22, 2012
GenreAlternative Hip Hop
LabelGrand Hustle
Rebel Rock
Taylor Swift
Ammar Malik
Lukasz Gottwald
Henry Walter
ProducersDr. Luke
Single Certification
Music Video
Live Performance
Official Audio
Making of