Album Review: Ludacris – Theater of the Mind

23 11 2008


Ludacris gets cinematic with his latest release Theater of the Mind. Some of the biggest names co-star on this project, and features a variety of A-List producers. After months of hype, is Theater of the Mind worth the money or are you better off getting it on bootleg?


4/5

Over the past eight years, Ludacris has had a progressive career. From his debut LP Back for the First Time, Ludacris branded himself as a lyrical, humorous, fun loving emcee (hence the name Ludacris). Luda’s personality and charismatic delivery granted him instant acceptance in the rap game. Five albums later, Ludacris is still relevant and has not showed one sign of struggle in his career.
Ludacris gets thematic on his latest effort Theater of the Mind. For the movie themed album, Luda labels guest appearances as “co-stars” and productions as “directed by”. The album opens up in traditional Ludacris fashion with someone talking over an instrumental and Ludacris spontaneously starts to spit with no hook. He welcomes his audience to the album starting his verse with “Lights, Camera, Action…” over a rapid-drum beat directed by The Runners. The following track “Undisputed” would’ve been suitable for an intro as well. The track features Floyd Mayweather as he plays Luda’s trainer motivating Ludacris to deliver hard hitting punch lines. Luda goes in with lines like “Makin my fans catch the holy ghost at my shows like ya grandma at church/and the fat lady’s singin – it’s over for you rappers/can’t none of y’all bust, you’re just sacs full of semen”. Ludacris links up with former rival T.I. for another unlikely appearance on “Wish You Would”, a follow up to “On Top of the World” off of T.I.’s Paper Trail. The two collaborations prove that when beef is reconciled, it can result in good music.
Theater of the Mind is one of Ludacris’ most well balanced albums. For the ladies, Ludacris dropped his lead single “What Them Girls Like” featuring Chris Brown and Sean Garrett. The intention of the track was to get the ladies attention and appeal to the clubs, but it is one of weaker tracks on the album. The second single “One More Drink” is the albums mandatory T-Pain feature. The club friendly track talks about the effects of too much alcohol and how you perceive women. Unlike “What Them Girls Like”, “One More Drink” is commercial, but still a cold track. Swizz Beatz delivers “Nasty Girl”, with an unimpressive appearance from Plies. On Usher’s “Yeah”, Ludacris rapped “I like a lady in the streets, but a freak in the bed”, which Ludacris sticks to on “Nasty Girl”. Another track for the ladies “Contagious” features Jamie Foxx and a smooth neo-soul styled instrumental surprisingly produced by Scott Storch.
For the streets, Ludacris teams up with Rick Ross and Playaz Circle on “Southern Gangster”. Ving Rhames narrarates the track similar to BET’s “American Gangster”. The track is more suitable for Rick Ross since Luda’s attempt to get “gangsta” seems unnatural.
The album comes to a close with pure hip hop tracks. Ludacris and Lil Wayne address the issue of hip hop dying on “Last of a Dying Breed”. Lil Wayne drops a favorable verse with a frantic delivery as he spits lines like “Hip hop ain’t dead, it just had a heart attack/but you see I keep it pumpin’, and I got that heart back”. DJ Premier makes a production appearance on “MVP” with his signature production style. Ludacris makes the mistake of saying “He’s the first southern rapper on a Premo beat”, when artists like Cee-Lo and Scarface have worked with DJ Premier in the past. The most hyped appearance on this album was the Nas and Jay-z featured “I Do It for Hip Hop”. Nas and Jay-z together have made “Black Presidents” and “Success” which leads to higher expectations for this track. Instead, it features a bland instrumental but it’s redeemed by solid verses from Jay and Nas. The album ends on a conscious note with Ludacris’ collaboration with Common and Spike Lee coincidentally titled “Do the Right Thing”. Ludacris drops his positive wake up call to the people.
In conclusion, Theater of the Mind is a versatile LP. Whether Ludacris is rapping about drinks, envy, or his love for hip hop, he manages to make above average music. Theater of the Mind is Luda’s most substantial effort, and a little more fun than Release Therapy.

To Sum It Up In One Word: Theatrical

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