Review: Ludacris - Ludaversal
By Xavier Veccia, Managing Editor
[Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam; 2015]
Key Tracks: “Come And See Me,” “Call Ya Bluff”
It’s been five years since Ludacris released an album. Five years since “Get Low” and “My Chick Bad” ruled the charts. Five years since we heard the soothing “LUDA!” we’ve all come to know and love.
Five years doesn’t seem too long, but in terms of music, five years can destroy even the most dominant artist. Coming into Ludaversal, the Atlanta spitter’s ninth studio album, it’s easy to wonder if Luda still has it, especially considering his career these past five years has been the complete opposite of the artist we once knew. Just for fun, let’s look at what the “What’s Your Fantasy” rapper has been up to lately.
He’s been, at best, the sixth best actor in the Fast & Furious film franchise, known more for car explosions than Oscar-winning performances.
He was one of many stars in the cinematic disaster known as New Year’s Eve. He wasn’t even the best rapper in the movie (looking disappointingly at you, Common).
He’s been a judge on that one singing show that isn’t The Voice or American Idol.
He was recently one of the least funny celebrities on The Roast of Justin Bieber, which included 73-year old Martha Stewart.
Yeah, Ludacris has been busy, but maybe not in the best of ways. Which brings us back to the most important question: Does Ludacris still have what it takes to be a good rapper? The answer is a solid maybe.
Ludaversal is far from Ludacris’ best album, but it’s not his worst either. Ludacris seems to be the latest member of a genre this writer likes to refer to as dad rap. Dad rap is highlighted by artists like Eminem and Jay Z, both of whom have taken notable steps back from the insane and drug dealing personas they once boasted. Dad rap isn’t necessarily bad, just sort of disappointing. It’s understandable that Eminem isn’t as violent or Jay Z as intimidating. After all, they’re in their 40s. But that doesn’t make their new material any less shallow compared to albums from their prime.
Ludacris faces the same challenge. At 37, he physically can’t keep up with the latest batch of young spitters rising in the game. But he can still give his fans a portion of what he once delivered.
“Call Ya Bluff” is a solid track reminiscent of early 2000s rap with shaking bass and slowed down background vocals. And “Get Lit” is a good example of Luda relating to his younger audience members while still staying true enough to his old self to allow his veteran fans to enjoy it.
Ludaversal is best in its second half, when Ludacris can rely on some strong support from guest features. The single “Good Lovin” features silky, tempting vocals from Miguel to keep the song flowing in a more palatable way. And “Come And See Me” features just about the best modern artist if you’re looking for a Dirty South vibe with Big K.R.I.T., who brings the youth out of the three-time father.
However, there are a few places where Ludacris shows his age a bit too much. “Grass Is Always Greener” is the prime example, as he spends most of the song comparing frivolous things to other frivolous things. My personal favorite is, “My fans wanted me to grow my hair back / Grew it back then started missing my fade.” On this track, the emcee starts sounding like an old man trying to pass down advice you already know, because, well, even the As Told By Ginger theme song could have told you this one.
And let’s not even talk about the incredibly childish, yet totally dad humor, skit about Viagra. (Actually, let’s talk really quickly. Basically Luda calls 9-1-1 about his Viagra not wearing off, leading to the operator leaving her post to provide “help.” First off, this is the worst plot idea for a porn movie ever. Secondly, it serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Lastly, the only funny part is that Luda is actually at the age where he may be needing Viagra soon.)
Ludacris may be old, but he hasn’t completely lost it. However, Ludaversal certainly does make you feel like it’s not too long until he does.