Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ludacris - Theater of the Mind (2008)

3.5 ★/7.0 - 7.9

Fact: Ludacris is severely underrated.

As a rapper, his cartoonish personality and touch of southern drawl perfectly supplements his unstoppable collection of hilariously clever allegories and similes, and even if he doesn't have much to say besides the usual bragging, boasting and "hos-N-dro" talk, he definitely pulls it off with more authority, character and off-the-wall tongue-in-cheek than most of the peers he shares the billboard charts with. He's got charisma, wit and charm and that's all an MC needs really.

Sadly, he's also always been a businessman at heart and so all his albums in the past have balanced every playful, off-kilter and completely unique production with mainstream flirtations, ranging from cliche crunk to generic club bangers ("Move Bitch," I'm looking at you). In this sense, Theater of the Mind is not a surprise, clear from it's guests stars. But surprisingly, the tracks where the worst offenders show up are some of the album's best tracks. T-Pain's Autotone is perfectly suited for the smooth, sexy vibes of "One More Drink." And the cinematic symphony on "Last of A Dying Breed" makes up for the Lil Wayne appearance. It's the lone thing that Ludacris' latest has over all it's predecessors that inspires him, and that is a conceptual drive, which, although only loosely enforced, is perfectly suited for his theatrical and commanding flow. Nevermind the pure shit that is "What Them Girls Like" and "Wish You Would"; from the moment the merciless "Undisputed" decimates the generic vibes of career-lowlight, Release Therapy, with a flurry of horns and vocal samples, to the intensely symphonic narrative of "Call Up The Homies", Ludacris finally comes into his own on Theater of the Mind, embracing the drama and superstar profile that his charming personality has always suggested.

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