Southern rap is a disaster. There are barely any rappers with any rhyming skill that reside in the south. Unfortunately, the first image that comes to many people's mind when the Dirty South is mentioned is Mike Jones repeating his name constantly and Paul Wall's icy grill. However, there is one jewel that lays buried in that mess. His name is Ludacris.
Ludacris is the most skilled mainstream rapper that is still active. I can't say for sure that he is the most skilled rapper in the game right now, but he is the best that I have heard. Why? There are so many reasons. For one, his flow is just ridiculous. He can flow incredibly fast, as shown in Dirty South Intro. His flow on that song is extremely fast, but he never pronounces a rhyme wrong or stumbles over a word. The next song, Blow It Out, he has a very slow flow. But he maintains a good steady pace throughout the song, executing that style of flow flawlessly. On the next song, Stand Up, he uses his "regular" style of flow. It is a moderately fast place, and he also uses this flow seamlessly. While most rappers stick to the same style of flow throughout the album, it seems like Ludacris could use any style and still pull it off perfectly.
Rappers that take themselves too seriously get tiresome quickly. Just take a glance at 50 Cent for a second. Have you ever heard him use humor in any of his songs? He is all serious all the time. It gets boring. Ludacris does not fall into that trap. He uses comic relief in his songs to change pace. In Rob Quarters Skit, Ludacris announces that one of his 62 year old protégés is dropping an album called "Get Hard or Die Trying." Hip Hop Quotables is when Ludacris is at his peak. It's a three minute, hookless song with Ludacris dropping hilarious joke after hilarious joke. Some of these are "They make the mold of the penis enlarger off me," and "Ya'll put up wit more s
hit than a colostomy bag." The skits on this album are also great, all four of them are just hilarious. Ludacris knows how to use humor, instead of going overboard like some rappers (Eminem on Encore) do.
Unfortunately, Ludacris falls into the same traps that many rappers do. The songs on hip hop albums often fit into an uncomftorably similar mould, with mandatory "dis" and "single" tracks. While Ludacris doesn't follow that mould for the whole album, it seems like he does in the first half. There is the designated single (Stand Up), the mandatory dis track (Blow It Out), the necessary "my life used to be so hard" records (Diamond In The Back, Hard Times), and then the mandatory, media friendly sex song (Splash Waterfalls). It seems like Ludacris almost made these songs just to get them out of the way. They don't show the same effort and excitement of the other songs on this album. After those first seven songs, it seems like Ludacris feels free to innovate and experiment. For that reason, the second half of the album is much better.
The beats on this album are great, at least as good as Ludacris's rhymes. Each song has a distinctive feel due to the beat, so none of them blend together like some rap albums do. Teamwork has a ridiculous beat, featuring a flute melody. Eyebrows Down's beat features a violin. We Got has a beat with someone coughing in the background. Hoes In My Room has a slow, calming beat, which contrasts ridiculously and perfectly with the hilarious rhymes. On this album, it seems like Ludacris wanted to make the beats be the polar opposites of the rhymes. While that sounds like a potential train wreck, it works perfectly on this album. The songs have an awkward and confused atmosphere that just makes them more fun to listen to.
The guest appearances on this album are a bit disappointing, if only because they don't come close to matching Ludacris's rhymes. We Got is unfortunately a boring listen, because it is a generic, faux-aggressive song done with Ludacris's homies. Ludacris's Disturbing The Peace crew does a great job of sounding menacing, but they do a less than satisfactory job of rhyming. Lil' Flip, normally a rapper with quality rhymes, drops some really lame ones on Screwed Up, such as "Pimping ain't dead, but I'll leave you n
iggas dead from all this pimping." It would be better if Ludacris just went solo for this whole album, because his rhymes are so much better than the rhymes of his collaborators.
This album spawned five singles, and none of them were really special. Southern Fried Intro and Blow It Out were combined into one video, and Splash Waterfalls, Stand Up, and Diamond In The Back were each released with their own video. Southern Fried Intro is probably the best of these. Ludacris throws everything he can find into this song, creating almost a rap/rock hybrid. There is also a solo by a little kid, who is just talking about Ludacris. A bit weird, but the rest of the song makes up for it. There is no hook in this song, but it still flows along quite nicely. Stand Up is a pretty generic club banger, and Splash Waterfalls is an even more generic sex song. Blow It Out and Diamond In The Back are slightly better, but still nothing special. Ludacris's rhyme topics are very generic here, using lines that he know will be accepted by mainstream fans.
As I said earlier, the second half of the album is much better than the first. The two best songs on this album both come in this area, and they are Hoes In My Room and Eyebrows Down. Eyebrows Down is probably the better of the two. As I said, this song has a violin incorporated in the beat. The hook is very cold and menacing, the beat and the vocal delivery both contribute to this atmosphere. In this song, Ludacris spills out his life story. The humor that he utilizes in most of his songs vanishes in this song, Luda is all business. This is a great song, and the atmosphere that Ludacris crafts is very unique. It is pretty easily the best song on the album.
Hoes In My Room is as funny as Eyebrows Down is serious. The beat is one you would find in a typical, sultry sex song. It opens up seeming like that will be the case, with Ludacris calling Snoop Dogg for prostitutes. But when Ludacris arrives at the hotel, he discovers that the hoes are very ugly. The entire rest of the song is Ludacris describing these ugly women, and trying to get them out of his room. But the beat stays the same throughout the song. You can imagine how funny it is to hear that kind of beat along with those kind of rhymes. One particular funny rhyme by Ludacris is "There were five bitc
hes and they looked like trash, but one was a midget, so let's just say four and a half." The song ends up with Ludacris concluding that his arch nemesis Bill O'Reilly let the ugly hoes in. It is an absolutely hilarious song, but still has repeated listening value. Another great song.
This is a near perfect mainstream rap album. Unfortunately, it fails to innovate in any real way. It is not very controversial at all, no matter how many times Ludacris claims "this record is hard." He sticks to the already defined parameters of mainstream acceptance, and never tries a new idea or says something truly controversial. His skill is undoubtedly top notch, and his beats are smoking. This is one of the best mainstream hip hop albums you are likely to listen to, and you will probably enjoy it. But it is by no means the best in the rap genre.
Hoes In My Room
Southern Fried Intro