Monday, March 28, 2016

The Ludacris Project: Southern Hospitality



Welcome to another project on the blog!! This particular selection is one I've been thinking about for months now and it's finally arrived. This Ludacris project will be my first on an artist representing the South and heading into it, I'm already expecting a rather fun ride that's for sure. Before he dive right on in to "Back For The First Time", a little story if I may (one that I've told on the blog before).

When "What's Your Fantasy" was blazing the radio back in 2000, I really couldn't stand that song (not sure why) and I simply was not a Luda fan at that point. Even when I played "Phat Rabbit", which was first on Timbaland's "Tim's Bio" album, I thought it was ok, but nothing more. It wasn't until I first heard "Southern Hospitality" when things really changed. It was that song that sold me on Luda and I've been a fan ever since, and I'll have more to say about that classic as you read on. 

This project will focus on Luda's discography, starting with "Back For The First Time", all the way up to the severely slept on "Ludaversal" from 2015. It's going to be interesting when I get to "Release Therapy" and "Battle of the Sexes", the former I haven't played in a long time and the latter I only listened to once in 2010. How does his discography hold up to his other Southern colleagues? We'll find that out and more, and with all this said, loyal reader, I present to you THE Ludacris Project: Southern Hospitality!!!!!




October 17, 2000

 
[Note: Luda independently released "Incognegro" on August 17, 1999 and since the majority of the songs from that album appeared on BFTFT, I'm respectively not going to review "Incognegro".]



 1. "U GOT A PROBLEM"
Produced by Shondrae 

"I be dat nigga named Luda/Alert Alert, it's the ATLlien intruder/College Park waterboy, spit in the c-cooler/I Jam till they Def, they call me Slick Dick Da Ruler, women indeed!" 

"And I chose, to be dat number one contender/Southern offender, fuckin up ya whole agenda!"

"It's you and I, Do or Die, who am I?/I got a pocket full of Family Stone, cats think I'm Sly!"

I be dat nigga Bronze Bridges/Players wanna ball but go on strike cause of my pitches/They think I want they be-itches/But I don't want no pigeons yet pigeons can scrub my dishes/And y'all don't want no scrubs til y'all pull out y'all extensions!"


You know, if I was introducing Luda to someone for the first time, this opening banger is the one I would select. Luda REALLY goes in over this Shondrae production and I recall playing it a few times (when I first got the album) before I even made it to the second song. Truly dope all around and such an energetic way to start things. (Note: Shondrae also goes by Bangladesh, but for the sake of this project, I'll continue to use Shondrae until otherwise noted.)
*5 out of 5*

  

 2. "GAME GOT SWITCHED"
Produced by Organized Noize

"I hate it when it's too many niggas, not enough hoes
Too many rookies, not enough pros
The game got switched on some Ludacris shit
So all y'all can suck my di(ck), BEOTCH!!"



Well, that hook right there tells you all you need to know about this Organized Noize produced banger (and the energy continues). This will not be the last time that one of Luda's hook truly defines the song in question.
*4 out of 5*



3. "1ST & 10"
Featuring Infamous 2-0 and Fate Wilson
Produced by Shondrae

"It goes 10-9-8-7-6-5-4
3-2-murder 1 lyrics at your door
These DTP niggas come ready for war
So don't start the fucking game
If you won't settle the score!"



Again, that hook tells the story of this one, another Shondrae produced banger. Luda, I-20 and Fate score major creative points here in terms of going from "10 to 1" throughout all of their bars, quite the DTP numbers game right there.
*5 out of 5*




4. "WHAT'S YOUR FANTASY"
Featuring Shawna
Produced by Shondrae




As mentioned, at the time this was a force on the radio, I didn't care about this song one bit, however, it has grew on me, not by leaps and bounds, but enough to not make me "hate" the song (it did put him on the map though). And trust me, this will not be the last song during this project that finds Luda catering to the ladies, and he makes it CLEAR here that he's willing to knock the boots anytime, anywhere (lol).
*3 out of 5*


5. "Come On Over (Skit)"
Speaking of the ladies, Luda and I-20 attempt to invite a lady to their mansion, but she's not having it, lol.


6. "HOOD STUCK"
Produced by Luda

Luda shows mad love, in his own way, to the East and West, which is always cool. I feel the most notable line in this song is when he says "Almost signed with Puff Puff (Puff Daddy/P. Diddy) but I think I'll pass". I always found that interesting because while I never thought he and Mr. Combs had beef, can you imagine how things would've turned out had Luda signed with Bad Boy? Man, I shudder to think where his career would've gone.
*4 out of 5*


7. "GET OFF ME"
Featuring Pastor Troy
Produced by Jermaine Dupri

I was never a Pastor Troy fan, but I'll tell you one thing, he more than complimented Luda on this one, 2:46 of Southern energy.
*4 out of 5*



8. "MOUTHING OFF"
Featuring 4-Ize
Produced by Luda

Coming with a freestyle vibe, complete with the beat boxing, Luda and 4-Ize come with some ill lines, the latter almost steals the show. Speaking of Luda, I felt he tried to be a little too clever with his "my Tribe's on more Quests than Midnight Marauders" line, even though I knew what he was saying. Other than that, this was decent.
*3.5 out of 5*


9. "STICK 'EM UP"
Featuring UGK
Produced by Shondrae


"Hollow laid hollow sprayed I'm the hollow man/I get to the hollow point wit my hollow plan/Hollow bullets I pull it I'm about to live in vain/And then I drill em refill em make sure they feel the pain" -Luda


Listen as Georgia and Texas hook up for some Southern fried dopeness. I'm sure it was a thrill for Luda to link up with Bun B and the late Pimp C.
*5 out of 5*



10. "Ho (Skit)"
 All I have to say about this skit is "lol".


11. "HO"
Produced by Shondrae

"People just really need to understand where I’m coming from. If they really listened to the first song I had out called ‘Ho’, they would understand I wasn’t trying to degrade women. I was desexualizing the word. I call myself a ho in the damn song. So if it can go for men and women, then what is anybody upset about? These are just words." – Luda


These words from Luda make so much sense now that I'm revisiting this. Good song in terms of the context above. I also remember this song being such a popular one during my 11th grade year in high school (lol), even though looking back I guarantee the fellas (and ladies) who sung it had no idea what the actual meaning was.
*4 out of 5*



12. "Tickets Sold Out (Skit)"


13. "CATCH UP" 
Featuring Infamous 2-0 and Fate Wilson
Produced by Luda and Fate

In previous posts, I've talked about songs where the artist(s) clearly made them for the smokers. In this case, "Catch Up" was for the drinkers all over, even if the hook itself is telling you all the said drinking will catch up with you..... and the guys not caring one bit, lol.
*4 out of 5*


14. "SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY"
Featuring Pharrell
Produced by The Neptunes


 "Cadillac grills, Cadillac mills/Check out the oil my Cadillac spills/Matter of fact, candy-paint Cadillacs kill/So check out the hoes my Cadillac fills"


And HERE we are, THE song that sold me on Luda, making me a fan ever since, along with one of the most memorable openings by Luda. After not feeling "What's Your Fantasy" like that, I'm glad I was able to sit down, listen to this one and really appreciate how GOOD it was (and still is). Pharrell and Chad Hugo come through with one of their tightest beats ever for Luda, who was completely at home from start to finish. Classic and a real Southern hip hop anthem if you ask me.
*5 out of 5*



"Dirty South mind blowing Dirty South bread/Catfish fried up, Dirty South fed!"
 

15. "WHAT'S YOUR FANTASY (REMIX)"
Featuring Trina, Shawna and Foxy Brown
Produced by Shondrae

Although I prefer the original, not by much, this remix was decent. It seemed to showcase the guests more than Luda, respectively, and it was good mix of femcees: Trina, arguably the hottest in hip hop at the time in terms of the ladies, Shawna, the first lady of DTP and the seasoned Foxy Brown. And yes, the ladies were down for anything, anytime, anywhere.
*3 out of 5*


16. "PHAT RABBIT"
Produced by Timbaland

Like I mentioned during the intro, this originally appeared on Timbaland's "Tim's Bio" album and I wouldn't argue with anyone who considers this Luda's debut or their first exposure to him. It's pretty good and you can listen and tell the potential was there, which would be fulfilled indeed.
*4 out of 5*





In my view, this was Luda's official debut and it was a VERY good one, no doubt. It does give you an early glimpse into what he was capable of and he would certainly get better from here. Make no mistake about it, the hunger and energy was certainly present, along with noticeable charisma, wordplay and such a "clean cut" style on the mic. As we head to 2001's "Word Of Mouf", Luda would emerge as a force to be reckoned with in hip hop. 4.5 stars for "Back For The First Time".


SUCCESS
*Debuted at #4 on the "Billboard 200" chart, moving 133,000 units in its first week, later becoming Certified Triple Platinum in excess of 3.1 million units sold

*Hit singles --> "What's Your Fantasy", "Southern Hospitality"




November 27, 2001


1. "COMING 2 AMERICA"
Produced by Shondrae

Although "U Got A Problem" from his debut was such a dope opener, it was right here when Luda would notably start his albums which such TIGHT intros/openers. This one showed that he was back on the scene in a major way, with a nod to the classic movie "Coming To America" in a nice touch, as well as coming with the "double time" flow during the third verse with a dope beat switch.
*5 out of 5*



2. "ROLLOUT (MY BUSINESS)
Produced by Timbaland



 This hit single right here brings back so many memories. It was blazing radio and TV during my senior year in high school, and during lunch, I'll always remember my friend Brecora Bonner singing this song almost every day at the lunch table, lol, I mean she loved this song. It was Luda in a nutshell and I don't think anyone could pull off a song like this quite like he could, also linking back up with Timbaland for one of his signature productions. The nostalgia and goodness of this song guarantees the full monty rating.
*5 out of 5*



3. "GO 2 SLEEP"
Featuring I-20, Lil Wilson and Three 6 Mafia
Produced by Shondrae

A song like this was straight out of the Three 6 Mafia playbook, a crew I've never been a fan of, but giving credit where it's due, this song is not bad at all with everyone involved playing their roles well. (Towards the end of this song, Scarface comes through with a drop for Luda. With all due respect to Face, this was a little puzzling because I REALLY would like to have heard him and Luda link up for a song on this album.)
*4 out of 5*


4. "CRY BABIES (OH NO)"
Produced by Swizz Beatz

Luda is not talking about much here, however, he lets the continuous flow of similes carry the weight to very good results.
*4 out of 5*


5. "SHE SAID"
Featuring Fate Wilson
Produced by Organized Noize

This is another song that's straight of the Three 6 Mafia, because when you listen to the hook and beat, it sounds like something they would make. Luda and Fate calls out those ladies who says they never did or tried certain sexual acts, but behind closed doors, it's a different story. The song is not bad, but I really could've done without it.
*2.5 out of 5*


6. "Howhere (Skit)"
This leads us right into.....


7. "AREA CODES"
Featuring Nate Dogg
Produced by Jazze Pha

  

I recall hearing this song quite a bit in the summer of 2001. Luda wastes no time talking excessively about all the women he has across SEVERAL area codes in the U.S. Luda comes through again with some very good wordplay over a nice Jazze Pha production, and of course a memorable hook provided by the late Nate Dogg. This also appeared on the "Rush Hour 2" soundtrack.
*4 out of 5*



8. "GROWING PAINS"
Featuring Fate Wilson and Keon Bryce
Produced by P KING "The Specialist" 

Over a nice sample courtesy of William Bell's "I Forgot To Be Your Lover", Luda, Fate and Keon pay homage to the good 'ol days and where they come from, one of the first deep songs you'll hear from Luda.
*4 out of 5*




9. "Greatest Hits (Skit)" 


10. "MOVE BITCH"
Featuring Mystikal and I-20
Produced by KLC



"Oh no, the fight's out/I'm bout to punch yo lights out/Get the fuck back, guard your grill/It's somethin wrong, we can't stay still/I've been drankin and bussin too/And I been thinkin of bussin you/Upside your muthafuckin forehead/And if your friends jump in (oh girl!!), they'll be mo' dead!" -Luda

"I'm doing a hundred on the highway/So if you do the speed limit, get the fuck outta my way" -Luda

"Here I come, here I go/Uh oh, don't jump bitch, move!/You see them headlights? You hear that fuckin' crowd?/Start that goddamn show cause I'm comin' through!" -Mystikal

"I got a fifth of that Remy, fuck the Belve and Cris/I'm sellin shit up in the club like I work in that bitch!" -I-20


If the previous skit was designed to make you laugh heading into this one, the laughs end IMMEDIATELY once this KLC produced banger begins (and long time heads know KLC from his days as 1/5 of the Beats By The Pound production team with No Limit Records, which then became a 4 man team named Medicine Men). When it comes to rowdy club bangers, this one ranks in the top 5-10 and the energy is so thick you can cut it with the proverbial knife. Believe it or not, this joint did receive a respectable amount of radio and TV play. Great song.
*5 out of 5*




11. "Stop Lying (Skit)"
LOL, this leads us right into.....


12. "SATURDAY (OOOH! OOOH!)"
Featuring Sleepy Brown
Produced by Organized Noize



A cool song right here, tailor made for a Saturday night gathering of course, something the ladies and fellas could enjoy with no problems.
*4 out of 5*


13. "KEEP IT ON THE HUSH"
Featuring and produced by Jazze Pha

To say this apply titled song is strictly for the ladies would be a total understatement. That's 100 percent the case here.
*2.5 out of 5*


14. "WORD OF MOUF (FREESTYLE)
Featuring 4-Ize

Much like "Mouthing Off" from the previous album, Luda and 4-Ize come through with another freestyle for us all, and it's just as good as its predecessor.
*3.5 out of 5*


15. "GET THE FUCK BACK"
Featuring Shawna, I-20 and Fate Wilson
Produced by Shondrae

"Your whole crew is weak and my squad is real cash getters/Stayin' more to crunk, our shit bump like bad clippers/How many try to hustle with Dealer then went broke/Infamous, I'm a value meal, I come with the coke" -I-20


DTP come with the lyrical aggression on this appropriately titled joint, showing they were indeed a force when paired together. And man, is it just me or was I-20 slightly underrated during this period?
*4 out of 5*




16. "FREAKY THANGS"
Featuring Twista and Jagged Edge
Produced by Shondrae

Well, apparently "Keep It On The Hush" wasn't enough, because we get another one for the ladies (about 2-3 minutes too long), and at this point, Twista, another guy I've never truly been a fan of, wasn't too far behind when appearing on songs like this. Let's keep it moving shall we.
*2 out of 5*


17. "COLD OUTSIDE"
Featuring Chimere
Produced by Jook

I like this song and its theme (you don't want to ever be on the outside of any situation looking in), but it was a bit lengthy. Shave 2 minutes or so off this one and it's a much more effective song.
*3.5 out of 5*


18. "BLOCK LOCKDOWN"
Featuring I-20
Produced by Shondrae

This banger also appeared on Funkmaster Flex's "Mixtape Vol. IV". It was a good move to have a song like this towards the end of the album, because an anti-climatic closing was not the way to go. I consider this an underrated DTP anthem, featuring hard lyrics from Luda over an equally hard Shondrae production, who also delivered another ill beat switch during the second verse.
*4 out of 5*



*19. "WELCOME TO ATLANTA"
Featuring and produced by Jermaine Dupri

This bonus/hidden track also appeared on JD's sophomore album, "Instructions", which also dropped in 2001. As I always say, there's never anything wrong with bigging up where you come from and from a Southern point of view, this was cool.
*4 out of 5*




After listening to this and album #1 back to back, for the first time ever, it occurred to me that while "Word Of Mouf" is a 4 star album, it's not better than "Back For The First Time". Luda was still getting better and becoming more successful in the process and it was only up from here. Overall, "Word Of Mouf" had a little more filler than his debut, but it's still a very good album all things considered. From here, Luda steps back a bit in 2002 and returns to the scene once again with his third album, "Chicken-n-Beer".


SUCCESS 
*Debuted at #3 on the "Billboard 200" chart
*Moved 281,000 copies in its first week, going on to move 3,674,000 units, marking his second Certified Triple Platinum certification
*Nominated for a Grammy Award in 2003 for "Best Rap Album", but lost to Eminem's "The Eminem Show"

 Hit Singles --> "Rollout (My Business)", "Move Bitch", "Saturday (Oooh! Oooh!)", "Area Codes" and "Welcome To Atlanta"




October 7, 2003


1. "Southern Fried Intro"
Produced by DJ Nasty & LVM

Well, Luda is certainly 3 for 3 at this point when it comes to dope intros/openers. Producers Nasty and LVM came through with a nice beat, complete with well timed samples in the form of Issac Hayes' "Walk On By" and Lyn Collins' "Me And My Baby Got Our Own Thing Going" and the double timed flow from Luda. I normally don't rate intros, but I'm making an exception with this one.
*4 out of 5*



2. "Blow It Out"
Produced by Ron Browz



It was fitting that this appropriately titled joint was sequenced right after the "Southern Fried" intro. Luda wastes NO TIME going in on ANY naysayer out there and gives each and every one of them the verbal business by telling them BLOW IT OUT YA ASS!!! He also notably throws shots at Bill O'Reilly, "famous" for his talk show on the Fox News Channel:

"Shout out to Bill O'Reilly, I'mma throw you a curve/You mad cause I'm a THIEF and got away with words/I'mma start my own beverage, it'll calm your nerves/Pepsi's the New Generation - BLOW IT OUT YA ASS!"


A few words on this if I may. You see, around this time, Luda was a spokesman for Pepsi and O'Reilly, who has made many controversial statements in the past (and that's putting it mildly), accused Luda of "destroying American culture" and called him a "womanizer", smh. This was absurd and ignorant, considering how nice of a person Luda is and the positive things he does home and abroad. Instead of ignoring this, Pepsi fired Luda in a highly questionnable move, but at the same time, O'Reilly still has his show, smh. The double standard in this country continues to amaze and anger me.'
*5 out of 5*



3. "Stand Up"
Featuring Shawnna
Produced by Kanye West, Co-Produced by Luda



If there ever was a song in Luda's catalog that was ultimately made for the clubs, this was it, even if there were threats from the fire marshal to "shut it down", lol. This was something the ladies and fellas could enjoy with no issues and I also think this was the first and only time Kanye and Luda linked up.
*4 out of 5*



4. "Rob Quarters (Skit)"


5. "Splash Waterfalls"
Additional Vocals by Sandy Coffee
Produced by Icedrake



This joint was right here was STRICTLY for the ladies and it was indeed a little too sexy, if you will, for the fellas, nuff said.
*3 out of 5*


6. "Hard Times"
Featuring 8Ball & MJG and Carl Thomas, Additional Vocals by Misty
Produced by DJ Nasty and LVM

"You never know how much you miss a person, until they gone/Like to hear it? Hear it go, I'm rehearsing, gotta sing my song/I know I've done some wrong, but I can't get right/Cause life is like a big fight, I'm stickin and movin, tryin to get my shit right" -Luda


We have heard songs like this often in hip hop, even down to the title itself, and while it's never tiresome or boring, when it's done right, we usually end up with a very good song and that's what we get here.
*4 out of 5*


7. "Diamond In The Back"
Produced by DJ Paul and Juicy J




First off, mad props to DJ Paul and Juicy J for the ill sample of William DeVaughn's classic "Be Thankful for What You Got" on this one, so laid back and smooth. Speaking of this sample, while listening to this song, you really get the vibe that Luda was rapping from a "back in the day perspective" (circa 1974), just hoping and wishing for multiple changes along the way. I really like this one and it's a fine choice for the ride too.
*4 out of 5*



8. "Screwed Up"
Featuring Lil' Flip
Produced by Ruh Anubis Yazid (aka Mo B. Dick)

I've made it clear in the past  that I've never been a fan of the "chopped & screwed" style and to this day I don't understand the appeal. Add in the fact that I was never a Lil' Flip fan and this one, while not wack, does nothing for me. On the flipside, it may be one the smokers would enjoy while getting lifted, lol.
*2 out of 5*


9. "T Baggin (Skit)"


10. "P-Poppin"
Featuring Shawnna and Lil' Fate
Produced by Zukhan Bey

 The "p-poppin" dance, mostly a Southern thing, is something that's a bit difficult to define in words, so loyal reader, if you're not familiar with this type of dance, I recommend you check out some clips online (I'm sure there's no shortage of them, lol). These days you don't hear much of this dance in the music, but for a time, this was quite popular. This song is not actively bad, but I could've done without it.
*2 out of 5*


11. "Hip Hop Quotables"
Produced by Erick Sermon

Luda comes through with 64 ill bars (with no hook) on this apply titled joint, marking the first and only Luda and Erick Sermon collaboration to date. Dope stuff here.
*4 out of 5*



12. "Black Man's Struggle (Skit)"


13. "Hoes In My Room"
Featuring Snoop Dogg
Produced by Mo B. Dick

A hilarious, yet very good, back and forth collaboration between Luda and Snoop here, with a smooth beat to match. Leave it to these guys to have the adventures you would expect at a hotel, only to throw another shot at Bill O'Reilly at the end, lol.
*4 out of 5*



14. "Teamwork"
Produced by Black Key

Well, the ladies should love this one, somewhat on the same level as "Splash Waterfalls", but less sexy, if you will.
*2 out of 5*


15. "Interactive (Skit)"


16. "We Got"
Featuring Chingy, I-20 and Tity Boi
Produced by DJ Paul and Juicy J

  I want to talk about this beat first. It's a banger, no question, and in a way, only could DJ Paul and Juicy J incorporate a cough & sneeze with a gunshot drum roll and make that shit sound dope. As a song, it's likely the most aggressive on this album, everyone coming with decent verses, and that does include Chingy (I'm not a fan of his, but the verse he comes with here is his best, which isn't saying much).
*4.5 out of 5*



17. "Eyebrows Down"
Featuring Tity Boi and Dolla Boy
Produced by Jook

On this closer, Luda talks about his rise as an MC, from the ages of 3 to 14 to 18, respectively. Hard work does pay off in the end and it helps when your community is supporting you in the process and not looking at you with skeptical eyes (eyebrows down indeed). The beat could've been a bit better, but overall this was a very good way to close the album.
*3.5 out of 5*



While not as strong as "Back For The First Time" and even "Word Of Mouf", Luda delivered a very good album. I could've done without a few songs and definitely all of the skits, but everything else was largely good. You could tell Luda has fun during the making of his albums and that was pretty clear on "Chicken-n-Beer", with some even criticizing the album for having "way too much humor". Granted, there may have been more humor this time around as opposed to the previous two albums, but if balanced well (like Luda does here), it results in a winner, a 3.5 star rated one. 

Next up, we head to 2004 and "The Red Light District", which I initially copped the week after it was released.


SUCCESS
  *Moved 429,000 units in its first week, reaching Double Platinum status (2 million units sold)

*Hit Singles --> "Stand Up" (Luda's first single to hit #1 on the charts), "Splash Waterfalls" cracked the "Billboard Hot 100" along with "Stand Up"




December 7, 2004
  
1. "Intro"
Produced by Timbaland


"The ramblin at the mouth, I don't play that shit/I'm the best and I ain't really gotta say that shit!"



Luda is now 4 for 4 in terms of dope intros/openers. Clocking in at 1:25, that's all the time Luda needed to let the listener know he was back, full speed ahead and not taking any shorts. The last two bars above define things pretty well. (Again, I normally don't rate intros, but I'm making another exception with Luda here).

*4 out of 5*


2. "The Number One Spot"
Produced by DJ Green Lantern


"Nobody light-skinned reppin harder since Ice-T/You disagree, take the Tyson approach and bite me!" 





When I first heard that line above, I yelled "oh!!!", lol. Much props to Green Lantern and the banger he cooked up for Luda complete with the "Austin Powers" influence. Luda had already proved as far back as 2000 that he was coming for the #1 spot. This song cemented that.

*4 out of 5*







3. "Get Back
Produced by The Medicine Men and Tic Toc




That's why I pack a mac that'll crack 'em back/Cause on my waist there's more Heat than the Shaq Attack"



In 2000, Luda said "Get Off Me" and "Stick Em Up", 2001 he warned everyone to "Move Bitch" (and get out the way, lol), "Stand Up" is what he commanded you to do in 2003. Now in 2004, it's time to "Get Back!" This is vintage Luda all around and another one of those songs that'll get you amped on the dancefloor that's for sure. Best song on the album.

*5 out of 5*





4. "Put Your Money"

Featuring DMX

Produced by Icedrake


Man, a Luda/DMX collabo would've been major news circa 2000 or 2001, but at this point in 2004, Luda was definitely the hotter of the two and X was on the downswing of his career unfortunately. With that said, all the gambling fellas (and ladies) should like this one.
*3.5 out of 5*


5. "Blueberry Yum Yum"
Featuring Sleepy Brown
Produced by Organized Noize

You know how in previous reviews I would say "this is a song the smokers should love"? Well, this is another one right here. Organized Noize's production is quite fitting for this "lifted" occasion (and yes, the "blueberry yum yum" is what you think it is, lol).
*3 out of 5*


6. "Child Of The Night"
Featuring Nate Dogg
Produced by DK All Day

Luda hooks up again with the late Nate Dogg here. This is a good song and you get the vibe that Luda is starting to get a little more deep with each album. At the end of the day, even with all of his success, he's a normal person like you and me.
*4 out of 5*


7. "The Potion"
Produced by Timbaland



This song, while dope, is notable for having the beat that was originally intended for Jay-Z (he turned it down, resulting in what we ended up getting with "Dirt Off Your Shoulders"). Needless to say, Luda works the thumping beat very well, definitely will/would work wonders in a party scene.
*5 out of 5*



8. "Pass Out"
Produced by Needlz

Another slice of some Southern fried dopeness, courtesy of this Needlz produced banger. 
*4 out of 5*


9. "Skit"
Hilarious skit, lol. Luda calls a lady, but her man grabs the phone, rather forcefully, only to let his true "fanboy" ways loose when he realizes who is on the other end, lol. The lady gets back on the phone, but Luda says "I'll call you back", which he likely wouldn't, lol.

10. "Spur Of The Moment"
Featuring and produced by DJ Quik
Additional Vocals by Kimmi J.

The (still) underrated DJ Quik brings his smooth sound resulting in a nice blend of South and West goodness. I really like this one and if you're familiar with Quik behind the boards, you know what to expect.
*4 out of 5*



11. "Who Not Me"
Featuring Small World and Dolla Boy
Produced by Craig King

Although Luda closes this with a dope verse, it was more of a showcase for then new DTP members Small World, representing Norfolk, VA (much props from a fellow Virginian), also coming with an ill line, "muffle ya damn lips or there'll be mixtures of blood and dandruff/if you don't get me damn driff" and Dolla Boy from Playaz Circle.
*3.5 out of 5*


12. "Large Amounts"
Produced by Vudu

Genius.com correctly pointed out that this song Luda "explains the differences between being rich and wealthy". Even though he verbally flashes his own wealth at you, he also gives some sound financial advice in between the three informative verses and towards the end.
*4 out of 5*



13. "Pimpin' All Over The World
Featuring Bobby Valentino (Background Vocals by Keri Hilson and Mel Johnson)
Produced by Polow da Don and Donnie Scantz




A song to be sure, featuring another (then) newcomer to DTP, Bobby V (I like a couple of his songs too), however, Luda is not glorifying "pimping" if you ask me. Luda's form of "pimpin" is having fun all over the world as only he can. Check out ALL the spots that welcome Luda with open arms:

Virgin Islands
Miami Beach
Atlanta's Brina Brothers convention
Howard (University) homecoming
New York's Puerto Rican day parade
New Orleans (jazz fest, Mardi Gras, etc)
Jamaica
Japan
Canada
Chicago
Brazil
Africa ("where all the best women reside")

*3.5 out of 5* (minus .5 for the needless Katt Williams spot at the end)


14. "Two Miles An Hour"
Produced by DJ Toomp

To say that this song is about Luda's love for cars would be an understatement. Toomp, who usually comes through with bangers behind the boards, gives Luda one of his smoothest beats to date, complete with a nice Curtis Mayfield sample thanks to "Little Child Runnin' Wild".
*3 out of 5*


15. "Hopeless"
Featuring Trick Daddy
Produced by Heazy

First off, I'm not (and never been) a Trick Daddy fan, but he does complement Luda well on this apply titled song. Genius.com, again, correctly describes this one --> "they address race relations and social disparity through their perspectives as Black men in America".
*4 out of 5*


16. "Virgo"
Featuring Nas and Doug E. Fresh
Produced by Salaam Remi

We close the "Red Light District" with a VERY good song, complete with a true throwback vibe (especially with the beatbox), featuring all three talented artists representing their zodiac sign to the fullest. (This song also appeared on Nas' "Street's Disciple" album, which was released one week before Luda's album.)
*5 out of 5*




Oh man, this has aged well compared to the last time I listened to it. I like this one more than 2003's "Chicken & Beer" Not only did Luda still bring just about everything that worked from his previous albums (along with new DTP members), but you can listen to this and tell a change in direction was on the way, and we'll highlight that for sure on the next album, 2006's "Release Therapy" (he would also notably ditch the braids going into that album too, another sign of change, artistic and/or otherwise). A solid 4 star rating for "The Red Light District".


Success
*322,000 units moved in its first week, later reaching Double Platinum status in excess of 2.1 million sold

Hit singles --> "Number One Spot" was nominated for "Best Rap Solo Performance" at the 2006 Grammy Awards (lost to Kanye's "Gold Digger"), also hit #19 on the "Billboard Hot 100" chart; "Get Back" (#13 on the "Billboard Hot 100"); "Pimpin' All Over The World" (#9 on Billboard's "Hot 100 Singles" and #2 on "Hot Rap Tracks")





September 26, 2006

[Interesting story before I get to "Release Therapy". A couple of years ago, a friend of mine named Byrant and myself were talking about Luda, and when I asked him what did he think his best album was, surprisingly, he replied "Release Therapy". To this day, I've disagreed with that. Will that opinion change? Let's find out.



1. "Warning (Intro)"
Produced by Vudu

"HEY! I be that nigga named LUDA give a round of applause/They say I'm up to no good, I'll say I'm down for the cause!"

"I'm ready for some action, ready with a passion/Like pots with the steam I'm ready to get it crackin!"


The opening bangers continue for Luda with this "warning" intro. Even though the braids are gone, the passion remains and it does effectively set the tone for this album, clocking in at an even 2:30.
*4 out of 5*

 

2. "Grew Up A Screw Up"
Featuring Young Jeezy
Produced by DJ Nasty & LVM

Luda dedicates this one to "all the hustlers that's a product of their environment" (nothing wrong with that). Respectively, as you listen to the song, it's less about that but more of a "from rags to riches" type song, and it's quite good. Jeezy's verse didn't add much, but Luda's two verses over the DJ Nasty & LVM production (including a nice nod to Nas' verse from the classic "Life's A Bitch" in the first verse), with a well timed Biggie sample courtesy of "Runnin", makes this one a winner.
*4 out of 5*

 

3. "Money Maker"
Featuring Pharrell
Produced by The Neptunes



Luda hooks up with the Neptunes again for the first time since the classic "Southern Hospitality". I remember not feeling this song when I first heard it, but after a while it grew on me a little bit, not much. This is another one strictly for the ladies and I believe it still receives spins on the radio today. 
*3 out of 5*
 

4. "Girls Gone Wild"
Produced by The Neptunes

 Well, this was not a "Money Maker" sequel, but it follows that same formula and it's a slightly better song. I could also picture this one being the main single for a "Girls Gone Wild" special (remember those, lol). I also liked the way Luda flowed to this beat, working it pretty well.
*3 out of 5*


5. "Ultimate Satisfaction"
Featuring Field Mob
Produced by Rich Skillz

This was more or less a showcase for Field Mob. An ok song, nothing more.
*2.5 out of 5* 


6. "Mouths To Feed"
Produced by DJ Toomp

"Listen, look I gotta feed my family by all means necessary/Cause paychecks are comin' up shorter than February/Can't get a real job, I never finished school/Can't get no new clothes, I wore the same tennis shoes/But now the game's changed, I'm all about the hustle/And even Hogan Knows Best, I'm all about the muscle/I'm all about my team, I'm all about my green/I'm 'bout supply and demand, I'm 'bout to serve the fiends/And I'm a workin dream, I keep the circuit clean/See I'm the FUCKIN FUTURE~! I'm a workin machine/Don't trust a soul I'm the only one watchin my cream/So I stay in heavy rotation like a washing machine"

"A Bentley to a building and a building to a 'scraper/Can't keep up with the news but I get that Daily Paper" 

"Wake up and smell the coffee, it's time to make the doughnuts/A kid who had a kid, my kid made me a grown-up"


 Now this is what I'm talking about, I really like this one. On this appropriately titled, DJ Toomp produced banger, Luda stresses the importance of being all about your hustle when you have mouths to feed, whether it's your own family or those you employ. And yes, I had to include the entire first verse because it really defines this song. Great stuff here.
*4 out of 5*

 

7. "End of the Night"
Featuring Bobby Valentino
Produced by Happy Perez

Well ladies, you have another reason to smile with this Bobby Valentino assisted song. Luda's bars, Bobby's hook and Happy Perez's smooth beat will/would work wonders with the ladies.
*3 out of 5* 


8. "Woozy"
Featuring R. Kelly
Produced by Ken Jo

ANOTHER one for the ladies. As you know loyal reader, I'm not an R. Kelly fan, so his participation in a song directly affects the rating (he's in his element here, I'll say that). It's ok for what it is, but let's continue on.
*2 out of 5* 


9. "Tell It Like It Is"
Produced by Omen

 Man, Luda doesn't hold his tongue on this excellent song. He talks extensively about the pros and cons of the music business. The first verse is really notable because he all but gives aspiring artists a verbal blueprint of how to get started in the game and what you need to do to be successful. He also addressed Chingy's departure from DTP (the short version of this story is that after the very surprising success of his debut album, "Jackpot", he thought than he was bigger than what he actually was, and of course when he left the crew, that second album, "Powerballin", flopped so badly it was not even funny and he's been mostly irrelevent since):

"We never took no money from Chingy, thought I was cool with him/I wish his ass well but I don't want NOTHIN to do with him"


Like I said, this is an excellent song and I liked how he had his daughter start and end the song. You get the feeling that she probably was listening all along even though he told her to go in the other room, lol. If Karma becomes a star one day, it started here.
*5 out of 5*

   

10. "War With God"
Produced by Andre Harris and Vidal Davis

 Oh man, Luda goes in on this one. Revisiting this, I don't think any lines on this song were subliminal, and it's clear (as day) to me that this was a direct diss towards fellow Southern artist T.I. Luda stated in an interview that certain artists were taking subliminal shots at him, but never said his name. And if my memory serves me correctly, this stems directly from Young Buck's "Stomp", with controversy resulting from the fact that T.I., allegedly, dropped his verse dissing Luda and Young Buck was not aware. From there, Buck released a remix (whether or not T.I.'s verse was excluded is still up for debate), but Luda closed the song with an aggressive verse going straight at T.I. (think of how Jay-Z closed the second verse of "Takeover"). Note to aspiring artists: listen to this song first (and his verse from "Stomp") before you think about going at him.
*5 out of 5*

 

11. "Do Your Time"
Featuring Beanie Sigel, Pimp C and C-Murder, Additional Vocals by Jennifer Robinson
Produced by The Trak Starz

This is a real dedication to all the brothers that were incarcerated. In quite the notable (or fitting, depending on your view), Luda reaches out to Beanie Sigel, Pimp C (who's sadly no longer with us) and C-Murder, all of whom were locked up around the time this album was released. I would love to know how the recording sessions for this song came about, but either way, it's DOPE.
*5 out of 5*

 

12. "Slap"
Produced by The Runners



Luda is thought provokingly creative on this Runners produced joint. On a particular day, things are simply not going right for Luda, as his job, the death of a best friend, baby mama drama, theft, time, politics and the future of the world are weighing heavily on his mind and he's on the verge of snapping/slapping at any given moment. Very good song.
*4 out of 5*

 

13. "Runaway Love"
Featuring Mary J. Blige
Produced by Polow da Don



Genius.com accurately describes this song:

"It details the fictional stories of three young girls dealing with various issues such as abuse and unwanted pregnancy."


This is undoubtedly the deepest song of Luda's career. Even though the lyrical accounts are fictional, the issues Luda talks about have happened often in this country, past and present, and continuously being aware of such issues is so important in our communities. Luda does a VERY good job with this song and Ms. Mary J. Blige was the right choice for the hook. This song also disqualifies the notion, once and for all, that Luda is a womanizer.
*5 out of 5*

  

14. "Freedom of Speech"
Featuring Bishop Eddie Lee Long
Produced by Mr. Jonz

"Release Therapy" closes on a strong note. In short, Luda comes with two equally strong verses talking to the almighty God and asking for forgiveness for the mistakes he's made (at this point, 28 years on Earth). Speaking of 28, Luda ends both verses by saying "I'm just 28 years old, it just now started making sense", and right there, you get the impression he's fully matured musically as he approaches 30 (it's something about 30 I'll tell you). Bishop Eddie Lee Long closes this with a prayer for us all.
*5 out of 5*




 First things first, this is not Luda's best album, however, it's REALLY better than I remembered and it's a pretty strong album, definitely the most personal album in his discography. Cutting the braids off really exemplified his growth as an artist and what I also would call "musical maturity". Aside from a couple of filler tracks and one too many songs for the ladies respectively, everything else surrounding it is very strong, resulting in a 4 star rating overall, which may turn into a 4.5. And after such a personal album, it's time for Luda to have some fun again as we prepare to "go to the movies" in 2008.

SUCCESS
*It debuted a #1 on the "Billboard 200", moving 309,000 units in its first week (his 3rd consecutive #1 album), eventually earning a Platinum certification with 1.3 million units sold; won a Grammy in 2007 for "Best Rap Album"

*Hit Singles --> "Money Maker", a hit on the radio and topping multiple charts; "Runaway Love", peaked at #2 on the "Billboard Hot 100" 




November 24, 2008

{Originally, I did a revisit post on this album back on August 6, 2014 and being that a lot of my thoughts will remain the same, the majority of this part of the project will be verbatim, with a few updated thoughts along the way.]


Prior to the release of the album, Luda stated that it would basically be a concept album, a "movie", with guests as "co-stars". Nothing wrong with that, as concept albums in hip hop can be a thing of audio beauty if done right. And with that being said, let's go to the movies!



1. Intro
Scored By: The Runners

"Theater Of The Mind" begins with a brief, but dope Runners produced banger. One thing Luda was good at was starting his albums with the most adrenaline laced intros possible, and he delivers that here. (The dope openers continued of course.) If I were to rate this particular into, it would earn a "4 out of 5" rating, or in this case "thumbs up". (A "4 out of 5" sounds about right.)
   


2. Undisputed
Scored By Don Cannon
Co-Starring Floyd "Money" Mayweather



Holy shit! I mean, to say that THIS is a banger would be an understatement. After an adrenaline laced intro, we get that same vibe from Luda over this Don Cannon produced banger (complete with a NICE, well worked sample courtesy of Edwin Starr's "We'll Find A Way"), definitely one of Luda's top 5 best songs. He brings so many dope lines that I'd be listing the entire song if I were to name them all. This is one lyrical knockout blow to the competition, and speaking of knockouts, Mr. Floyd Mayweather, acting as Luda's "trainer", plays his role well and if there's anyone who knows about knocking out the competition, it's Mr. Mayweather. What a high powered start to this album.
*Thumbs Up/5 out of 5*



3. Wish You Would
Scored By DJ Toomp and 8TRIK
Co-Starring T.I.



"Assault and batteries, but my trunk stay "ever ready"/Assault and battery if you scared you never ready" -Luda
 

I dare you to step up to two of the Southern kings! After squashing the issues they had dating back to 2004 relating to Young Buck's "Stomp", Luda appeared on T.I.'s "Paper Trail" (also released in 2008), so T.I. comes through with Luda on this appropriately titled banger. 
*Thumbs Up/4 out of 5*




4. One More Drink
Scored By Poke and Tone (Track Masters)
Co-Starring T-Pain



"Fun in the club, leading to other things" is the first thing that comes to mind when describing this song. It's good, and T-Pain, who was admittedly hot at this point, was the right man for the hook. I also have to post the hilarious video, lol.
*Thumbs Up/4 out of 5*



5. Call Up The Homies
Scored By Clinton Sparks and Kamau Georges
Co-Starring The Game and Willy Northpole

Luda, Game, and Willy all head to the West Coast, strapped and all, to live life to the fullest.
*Thumbs Up/4 out of 5*



6. Southern Gangsta
Scored By STREETRUNNER
Co-Starring Ving Rhames, Playaz Circle and Rick Ross

"I got gangstas that'll rearrange ya whole face/And put your casket on ice, now that's a cold case" -Luda

"I cock and blast you into outer space/Break every bone in ya, you so out of place/Boom without a trace, you a bluff to block/I got some red beams, let's play connect the dots!" -Luda 

The best things about this song is Luda's verse, the voiceovers provided by actor Ving Rhames, and the dope beat provided by STREETRUNNER. Objectively, Rick Ross, as usual, adds nothing to this song and you can say the same about the verse from Playaz Circle (and yes, this is the duo that 2 Chainz apparently is still a part of). (I've "eased up" on Rick Ross within recent times, but my opinion of him on this particular song hasn't changed.) This song would've been that much better by keeping the same beat, possibly a different name to the song, and of course Luda holding it down on the solo tip.
*Thumbs In The Middle/3.5 out of 5*


7. Everybody Hates Chris
Scored By Don Cannon
Co-Starring Chris Rock

This title does make you think about the hit TV show of the same name, but respectively it has no connection, even with the role Chris Rock plays here. Don Cannon supplies Luda with another banger, effectively utilizing a Gladys Knight sample ("It Takes A Whole Lotta Man For A Woman Like Me") to great results. Plus, if you don't know what this song is about, well you have no business reading this review/revisit, lol. 
*Thumbs Up/4 out of 5*


8. What Them Girls Like
Scored By Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Co-Scored By Sean "The Pen" Garrett
Co-Starring Chris Brown and Sean Garrett

 

This and the next two songs make up the "Ladies Section" of the album, because if there ever was a song for the ladies, this is it right here. Pretty good just like "One More Drink". 
*Thumbs Up/4 out of 5*


9. Nasty Girl
Scored By Swizz Beatz
Co-Starring Plies

Once you've heard a song like this, you've heard them all. It's not great, but relatively decent. Plies is sort of out place, but he surprisingly doesn't bring the song down.
*Thumbs In The Middle/3 out of 5*


10. Contagious
Scored By Scott Storch
Co-Starring Jamie Foxx

This one seemingly picks up where "Nasty Girl" leaves off, only a little more smoother. 
  *Thumbs In The Middle/3 out of 5*


11. Last Of A Dying Breed
Scored By Wyldfyer...The Truth
Co-Starring Lil Wayne


"Top 5 damn right, but it really just hit me/That three of yo top 5's too scared to fuck wit me!" -Luda

Oh man, Luda and Lil Wayne go IN on this joint, no question. I'm not a fan of Wayne, but he kills this joint, even with the unorthodox voice he uses throughout. Don't get it twisted though, he doesn't steal the show here because Luda brings it just as hard and you still know it's his song and in control. Dope.
*Thumbs Up/5 out of 5*



12. MVP
Scored By DJ Premier

"I'm the MVP, I'm stupid with this rap shit/Rewind the verse, make the track do a back flip/Your speakers poppin on a handstand/They sneak dissin niggas, throwin little jabs like Bam Bam/But I'm a bad man, they amateurs like at Apollo/I wipe em off the stage like Sandman"
"Because I'm back with Premo on the track/Takin it to the essence, showin niggas how to rap"

"And my delivery is invadin your vicinity/Hennessey is my remedy, takin shots like Kennedy"
 
For this first ever collabo, this was not a disappointment. Luda flows very well over the unmistakable boom bap sound provided by Premo.

*Thumbs Up/5 out of 5*



"And he goin down in history, cause he don't sleep/And he the first southern rapper on a Premo beat"


13. I Do It For Hip Hop
Scored By Wyldfyer...The Truth
Co-Starring Nas and Jay-Z

Not too many artists can say they got my #1 and #2 favorite MCs of all time on the same song, let alone the same album. As a matter of fact, Luda may be the only artist to be on the same song with Nas and Jay together. Oh, and not too surprisingly, Luda almost delivers the best verse on this apply titled song. Continuous dopeness.
*Thumbs Up/5 out of 5*



14. Do The Right Thing
Scored By 9th Wonder
Co-Starring Common and Spike Lee

Some may say Luda and Common is a mis-match of styles in a hip hop form. Well, that slightly may be the case, but they complement each other well on this apply titled closer. Gotta do the right thing, always.
*Thumbs Up/4 out of 5*




Over the last few years I've often said that this is Luda's best album, and after this revisit, I still feel the same. (Yep, I STILL feel this is his best album.) This is an incredible album, which finds Luda firing on all cylinders. He got some of the hottest MCs and producers, circa 2008 (most of whom played their roles well), for this "hip hop movie" and it worked. It also remains the last truly great Luda album, and hopefully "Battle Of The Sexes" is not his last, officially or unofficially. (Thankfully, BOTS was not his last.) I honestly want to go the full monty on this and award it 5 stars, but I'm going to keep it at a very respectable 4.5 star rating. Outstanding job by Luda and will we see "Theater Of The Mind 2" at some point? I surely hope so! (Even though things can always change, I think the idea of TOTM2 has long passed.)

SUCCESS
*It debuted at #5 on the "Billboard 200", moving 214,000 units in its first week (his 6th top 5 album), receiving a Gold certification with 671,000 sold as of this posting


Hit Singles --> "One More Drink" and "What Them Girls Like" were modest hits compared to some of his previous ones in terms of chart positioning



March 9, 2010
[This was originally set to be a collaboration album with Luda and Shawnna, however, Shawnna ended up leaving DTP for Nappy Boy Entertainment in 2009. In the end, it just ended up being a studio album for Luda, his 8th.]


1. "Intro"
Produced by Xcel

Clocking in at 1:28, this was another very good intro from Luda. I honestly can't say that it sets the tone for what's to come, but at this point he's 8 for 8 in terms of dope openers. I normally don't rate intros, but you know the rest, lol. (I don't know who the lady was on this intro, who wasn't credited, but it wasn't Shawnna.)

*4 out of 5*   

 


2. "How Low"
 Produced by T-Minus



This was one of two songs that was all over the radio in 2010, that I do remember. Now, some may not have been cool with Chuck D's "how low can you go" line being sped up, but in the case of this song, I can forgive it, mainly because it fit what Luda was going for and it added to the song. It may be mostly for the ladies, but it bangs enough for the fellas. (I also believe that Shawnna was initially part of the hook, but her vocals were replaced by someone still unknown.)
*4 out of 5*



3. "My Chick Bad"
Featuring Nicki Minaj
Produced by The Legendary Traxster
   

"My chick bad, my chick hood/My chick do stuff that yo chick wish she could" 


The lines above define this one in a complete nutshell. This apply titled (very apply titled) song was the second one that blazed radio in '10, featuring Ms. Nicki Minaj, who was on the very brink of stardom at this point (complete with the "hashtag flow"). Good song.
*4 out of 5*



4. "Everybody Drunk"
Featuring Lil' Scrappy
Produced by DJ Montay

I liked the well timed 8Ball & MJG sample courtesy of "You Don't Want Drama", and this is another one of those songs that would have people losing their minds in the club (only in the South, lol). I'm not a fan of Lil' Scrappy, but I'll give him credit with his verse considering the subject involved. (Shawnna was part of the early version of this song, but her vocals were cut and replaced with the Lil' Scrappy guest spot.)
*3.5 out of 5*


5. "I Do It All Night"
Produced by B Crucial and Tony Dinero

 Now, Shawnna's contributions were left intact on this one, but she wasn't credited and it's not even listed as a "feature". Decent, appropriately titled song, nothing we haven't heard before.
*3 out of 5*


6. "Sex Room"
Featuring Trey Songz
Produced by Kajun

Everything about this song is 100 percent for the ladies, nothing more to say about it. It probably wouldn't hurt if you threw this on while "in the mood".
*3 out of 5*  


7. "I Know You Got A Man"
Featuring Flo Rida and Ester Dean
Produced by Infinity

"I got a man/woman, but what he/she gotta do wit me?" Talk about a question that's been asked many times, especially in hip hop songs. Once you've heard a song like this, you've heard them all.
*2 out of 5*


8. "Hey Ho"
Featuring Lil' Kim and Lil Fate
Produced by Khao

I can't help but think that a Luda/Lil' Kim collabo, 10 years or so prior would've been a big deal, so what we get here is a little too late I think. This was not any kind of sequel to "Ho" from the "Back For The First Time" album, and honestly what saves this one is Khao's thumping, keyboard driven beat.
*2 out of 5*


9. "Party No Mo"
Featuring Gucci Mane
Produced by Bangledesh

Unfortunately, a good number of guests on Luda's albums I'm not a fan of, which would include Gucci Mane in this case, and anyone who would do anything with him is beyond me. When it comes to "party songs", Luda has certainly done better and even the presence of Gucci seems to bring Luda down a couple of notches. (I believe Shawnna was on the hook here.)
*2 out of 5*


10. "B.O.T.S. Radio"
Featuring I-20 and Shawnna
Produced by The Runners

This is the only song where the male and female perspectives come into play. In the form of a call in radio show, Luda, I-20 and Shawnna receive 3 calls with 3 different issues, and each caller receives interesting responses as a result. Good song for what it is.
*4 out of 5*

  


11. "Can't Live With You"
Featuring Monica
Produced by Khao

Luda, with Monica on the hook (and final verse), is torn in his current relationship, facing issues that some people deal with in relationships everyday: love the other person the next day, hate them the next, arguing, breaking up & making up, lack of trust, etc. When facing issues like this, especially on the regular, it really does give strength to the "can't live with you/can't live without you" line.
*3 out of 5*


12. "Feelin' So Sexy"
Featuring Shawnna
Produced by Gaggie

The ladies should like this form of audio phone sex more than the fellas, just saying.
*2 out of 5*


13. "Tell Me A Secret"
Featuring Ne-Yo
Produced by Swizz Beatz

Asking a woman to tell you a secret could lead to opening a can of worms (depends on the woman, lol), but I get what Luda was going for here. Again, this is mainly for the ladies.
*3 out of 5*


14. "My Chick Bad (Remix)"
Featuring Diamond, Trina and Eve
Produced by The Legendary Traxster

Lol @ Luda saying this was the "pussy rules the world version". The original was so successful that he had to do a remix, much like he did in 2000 with the "What's Your Fantasy" remix. In this case, Trina returns and joins Luda, Diamond and Eve, and trust me the ladies more than live up to their names.
*4 out of 5*



*15. "Sexting"
Produced by The Neptunes

On this bonus track, Luda is receiving treatment for his addiction to sex, all the while still sexting all the way through, lol, he just couldn't help himself. The previous song wouldn't have been an anticlimatic closer, but this one does end things on a rather hilarious note. Also, much props to the creative beat provided by the Neptunes.
*3.5out of 5*


To this day, I still would love to know what actually happened with Shawnna and her split from DTP (I'm sure there's an interview out there). Did her involvement (or lack thereof) hurt this album? I honestly can't say that, because I think we would've got the same even with her properly credited. With that being said, this obviously is the worst album of Luda's career. There are a few fun moments here and there, but when you look at every album preceding this one, it's a huge step down, especially when it comes to quality. I'll go with 2.5 stars for this one. (He wouldn't release another album until 2015's "Ludaversal", which is how we will close this project.)

SUCCESS
*It hit #1 on the "Billboard 200", moving 137,300 units in its first week, then going on to move 632,000 units for a Gold certification 
*Hit Singles --> "How Low" was a top 10, Double Platinum success, while "My Chick Bad" peaked at #11 and later going Platinum  and being nominated for a Grammy in 2011 for "Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group"




March 31, 2015
 [I copped this on its release date.]


1. "Ludaversal Intro"
Produced by David Banner

"Ain't nobody fuckin' with me when it come to getting lyrical/Murdering the rapper and killing beats nigga/I'm cinematic making everybody panic/I be bustin' like a fully automatic feel the heat nigga!" 


 Luda wastes NO time going in on this intro, making him 8 for 8 in dope openers/intros and this David Banner produced joint is tight. Luda works this beat so well, using the "double time" flow off and on, letting the listeners know he's back and hasn't lost one step.
*4 out of 5*



2. "Grass Is Always Greener"
Produced by DA INTERNZ

Now, most of us should know that the grass is never greener on the other side, but, Luda offers a respectable twist. In this song, he talks about going from one thing to the next, but ultimately going back to something because its missed, which is understandable in some cases. Good, somewhat fast paced song that makes its points.
*4 out of 5*



3. "Call Ya Bluff"
Produced by Syk Sense

   

Tell Luda he fell off and/or doesn't have it anymore and you'll get a song like this! I remember when I bumped this the day it came out, and the way Luda flows over this thumping, bass driven production had it on repeat before I continued the rest of the album. DOPE stuff here.
*5 out of 5*



4. "Lyrical Healing"
Produced by Frank Dukes and Maneesh Bidaye, Co-Produced by Illmind   

"Your favorite rapper say I'm sick and they ain't no antidote/They kidnapping my flows they ain't even leave a ransom note"


Luda makes a good point in this brief song about "too many rappers gettin sensitive" (in fact, even in 2015 and now, I can't recall a time in hip hop's history when this was the case and it makes you shake your head in disgust and frustration at how much things have changed over the years). This would've been rated higher if Luda would've came with one or two more verses.
   *3 out of 5*


5. "Beast Mode"
Produced by 1500 or Nothin' and Mike & Keys

  
Luda describes this song perfectly, also with inspiration from Marshawn Lynch:

“The same way he’s plowing down people in the field, I’m plowing down people in the music industry and all these rappers… It’s a song that has no hook. It’s just like, three minutes of just metaphors and just going in.”


And that's exactly what he does here, GO IN, bars galore, no hook needed. Again, Luda has not lost one step and this is  another song proving that fact.
  *5 out of 5*



6. "Viagra Skit" 


7. "Get Lit"
Produced by DA INTERNZ and Lil Ronnie

I recall not liking this one all that much when I first bumped it, but I've warmed up to it a little bit. I'll tell you one thing, based on the title and content, all smokers and drinkers alike should enjoy this one, especially in the South, lol.
*4 out of 5*


8. "Come And See Me Interlude"
This leads us right into.....


  9. "Come And See Me"
Featuring Big K.R.I.T.
Produced by Mike WILL Made-It and P-Nasty

 

Oh man, did I ever turn the volume up in my ride when this joint came on, lol. "Car/whip" is on full display here as Luda and fellow Southern heavyweight Big K.R.I.T. deliver some Southern fried goodness over such a thumping beat. I REALLY like this one.
*5 out of 5*



10. "Good Lovin"
Featuring Miguel
Produced by DA INTERNZ and Aaron Michael Cox

  

You could argue that a "cool down period" was in order after the hardness of the previous 9 songs. With Miguel on the hook (hot at this point in 2015), Luda talks about the trials and tribulations that relationships experience, seeking change in the process. Good song.
*4 out of 5*


11. "Ocean Skies"  
Featuring Monica
Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and The University

This is truly the most personal, emotional song of Luda's career. His father, Wayne Bridges, passed away in 2007, one day after a Grammy win, with diabetes and an addiction to alcohol being unfortunate contributing factors. Luda digs deep into his past with his father and how his drinking affecting their relationship. I'm sure Luda wished he could do more, no doubt about that, and I wouldn't be surprised if he immediately broke down after the recording of this song. 
RIP to Mr. Wayne Bridges.
*5 out of 5*



12. "Not Long"
Featuring Usher
Produced by Mel & Mus

Another VERY good song. It's never too late to follow your heart while remaining in control of your destiny at the same time. 
*4 out of 5*


13. "Charge It To The Rap Game"
Produced by Illmind, Co-Produced by Frank Dukes and Maneesh Bidaye

  

There's no doubt that Luda has likely seen it all considering that he's been in the game for 15+ years now. Here he talks about his frustrations with the genre, everything from promotions to the loss of money and jewelry. The more things change (in hip hop), the more they stay the same.
*5 out of 5*



14. "This Has Been My World"
Additional Vocals by Ruben Bailey (Big Ruba) and India Shawn
Produced by Just Blaze

I think this is the first time Luda has linked up with Just Blaze. If Luda was talking about frustrations with the rap game in the previous song, he uses this one to talk about being mostly satisfied with his successful career, doing things his way in the process. "This has been my world, Ludaversal." Indeed.
 *4 out of 5*



*15. "Money"
Featuring Rick Ross
Produced by DJ Pain 1

"My biggest gift and my curse/More money, more problems tell me what's worse" -Luda


I did cop the deluxe edition of this album, meaning I was treated to FOUR bonus tracks. The bars above paints the verbal picture of this song, featuring a well timed sample in the form of The Dells' "All About The Paper". Usually, when there's a song about money, you won't find Rick Ross too far behind and he surprisingly doesn't take from this song at all. (A brief note on Ross, if I may. I like how the "Maybach Music" soundbite accompanies him on his guest appearances. That's a nice touch.)
*4 out of 5*

"The best things in life are earned, not bought." -Luda


*16. "Problems"
Featuring CeeLo Brown
Produced by T-Minus

This apply titled song sort of picks up where "Money" leaves off. Luda talks about the problems that his success has brought him and wishing they would all go away. And yes, the root of those problems is the fame and fortune, which is to be expected, but it's all in how you deal with it.
 *4 out of 5*

"Doc say I need to change my diet, cause I really not eating right/Mama said I need some peace and quiet, cause I'm really not sleeping right"

"....Seems like the only thing that keep me together, is my music
If it wasn't for that, I think I would lose it"





*17. "In My Life"
Featuring John Legend
Produced by Derrick "Bigg D" Baker and Lamb

"They said I'm so visual, they overlook the lyrics/But every verse you get a sample if your mind can clear it"

 

This John Legend assisted song is definitely "days in the life of Luda" at this point in his career, nothing more or less. It may seem like he's flaunting his wealth a lot, and while that may be tiring to some, he makes it clear he works damn hard for it all.
*4 out of 5*


*18. "Burning Bridges"
Featuring Jason Aldean
Produced by Alex Da Kid

   Check out genius.com's description of this song:

"The song talks about the connections he once had with people falling down and collapsing. A bridge between him and the people he cared about are falling down and are no longer there like they used to be."


In addition, you could also say there's more to this song than meets the ears. You could also ask yourself is Luda willing to repair whatever strained relationships he has with others or continuing on like normal as long as himself and his family are well taken care. Interesting questions to be sure, maybe they'll be touched upon if he drops album number 9.
*5 out of 5*





Wow, this is SUCH an excellent, 4.5 star album from Luda. When it dropped in 2015, it had a buzz for all of one week before it simply vanished, figuratively, and that seems to be the case with most albums these days. Even though it had been a while since he released an album, Luda returned with more to say along with a hunger and passion not seen since..... "Theater Of The Mind" maybe. He didn't rest on his laurels, he didn't coast, slack or go through the motions, he simply showed he still had what it took on the mic and even with his success on the big screen (which will be touched on in my final words), he wasn't too big for hip hop with that success. With all this said, it probably won't hit the listeners until a few years from now to recognize how GOOD this album is and in my view, it was one of 2015's best albums. 


SUCCESS
*It debuted at #3 on the "Billboard 200", moving 62,000 units in its first week (thus far it has moved 81,000 units to date); obviously this is the lowest selling album of his career, but that can be attributed to a few factors, namely the music industry in general and the lack of promotion

*There were no hit singles and I don't think anything graced the radio from this album




Wow, we have come to the end of this project and like all of the projects I've put together on this blog, I had a great time revisiting the discography of the highlighted artist. Speaking of which, Luda's discography is a LOT better than what I remembered and this project made me appreciate him more for his talents and dedication. He's a good man through and through and such a hard worker. That hard work is what drove him to much success in hip hop and that translated to him becoming a very good actor, starring in notable movies such as "2 Fast 2 Furious", as well as "Fast & Furious 6", "Furious 7" and the upcoming "Fast 8", "Crash", "Hustle & Flow" and "Max Payne". I hope "Ludaversal" doesn't turn out to be his last album, however, if that's the case, he had a hell of a career and if he wants to focus more on acting, more power to him. Top 5 from the South? I think so. Luda, if you're reading this, my hat's off to you. Thanks for the VERY good music throughout your career and for being a hard worker in all of your endeavors. MANY/MUCH props and respect to you!!!!!



LUDACRIS POWER RATINGS AND RANKINGS
1. "THEATER OF THE MIND" (4.5 STARS)
2. "BACK FOR THE FIRST TIME" (4.5 STARS)
3. "LUDAVERSAL" (4.5 STARS)
4. "RELEASE THERAPY" (4 STARS)
5. "WORD OF MOUF" (4 STARS)

*4 and 5 may be interchangeable

6. "THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT" (4 STARS)
7. "CHICKEN-N-BEER" (3.5 STARS)
8. "BATTLE OF THE SEXES" (2.5 STARS) 

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