Ludacris is something of an acquired taste…
Those were the words that opened the review of his last album in these parts. Chicken & Beer spawned a couple of hit singles and cemented Luda’s status in the Hip Hop Hierarchy. Never mind that the album, as a whole, was quite the chore to listen to…with each multi-platinum achievement, it’s obvious that the South’s Favorite Son ain’t goin’ nowhere.
In fact, Ludacris announced plans for the release of The Red Light District just a few weeks after Chicken & Beer, which dropped over 13 months ago. Knowing the generally short shelf life of even the most household names in the game, ‘Cris figured it best to keep his name out there for as long as he can. It’s a smart move and, surprisingly, not the only one he makes in regards to this album.
This is the fourth commercial release from ‘Cris and no one should be surprised by what they’ll hear. His familiar formula for the first single (club-worthy and crazy wordy) is present and accounted for. Get Back is equal parts frenetic and fun. The Medicine Men lace a layered, bass-heavy beat. It is what it is…not too deep, but who needs to think when you’re noddin’ your head or shakin’ your ass?
Speaking of rhythm, can someone tell me the talent pool that Timbaland’s been drinking from lately? In the last few months, he’s been behind the boards for some of the best beats on wax. The album’s Intro is only a minute and a half long, as Luda walks us through the time between his last album and this one…but the stripped down drum machine and guitar approach was a great way to get things started.
It also includes one of the best lines from the album, as well:
So if you see me in your town and I appear to be moody…
It’s cuz I’m thinkin’ about plans that’s bigger than Serena’s booty…
Timbaland also produces The Potion, which isn’t as sonically sweet, but even the more familiar computer keyboard approach that Tim tends to favor works with Luda’s high velocity vocals.
DMX stops by on Put Your Money and while the quasi-reggae beat is decent enough, X seems to only be around for the extra bail money his appearance fee afforded him. Otherwise, this ode to gambling and hustling stands pretty strong on its own, with Luda finding a way to juxtapose dice games with a reference to P. Diddy and the infamous MTV “cheesecake” incident.
Nate Dogg has the hook on Child of the Night which is actually one of the more disappointing cuts here. Ludacris goes all introspective on us in this conversation with God, but whatever sensitivity he’s selling…no one is buying and the beat is too all-over-the-place for the more serious subject matter.
Another guest star effort that goes nowhere is on Who Not Me. It’s mostly made up of Luda’s Disturbing the Peace crew and, if you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s a reason that the major studios find that one talent and leave the rest of his boys behind. At least, until the one guy who does make it decides to bring his untalented underlings on board, too.
Fortunately, there’s enough goodness elsewhere to drown their sound.
Sleepy Brown guests on the tongue-in-cheek weed-scented love letter Blueberry Yum Yum that even sounds like, uh…an “unnatural high”. Later, on Pimpin’ All Over the World, Luda channels the spirit of Area Codes with a city-by-city, country-by-country recap of the best bitches the world has to offer.
Oh, come on…it’s Luda and no one takes him that seriously.
Don’t believe me? Check out Number One Spot, which samples the opening theme from Austin Powers. Lots of buzz on this one as the next single, but its incessant references to the third (and probably worst) of the Powers trilogy gets old really fast.