Ludacris

    Theater of the Mind

    7.5

    Ludacris has done quite well for himself in a relatively short amount of time, so rather than trying to prove that he’s the richest or toughest rapper in the game, he mostly remains focused on building a respectable reputation. For Theater of the Mind, Ludacris does so by bringing his growing acting career closer to his music, saying every track is like a scene from a movie.

    The most apparent theatrical aspect of the project is that he’s added an extensive supporting cast. Almost every track has guests, including Jay-Z, Nas, Lil’ Wayne and the Game, as well as celebrities such as Chris Rock and Spike Lee. Each does exactly what you’d expect. There’s nothing wrong with their appearances, but  they do tend do distract from Ludacris.

    Some of the collaborations are interesting and unexpected (“Do the Right Thing,” with Common), but some are just gratuitous — no one needs Chris Brown and Sean Garret on the same song. Ludacris says hip-hop “owes him a promotion” on “I Do It for Hip Hop,” and he displays why with flawless performances from the intro to “MVP.” Although some tracks lean more toward the commercial base (“One More Drink” with T-Pain), there’s a consistency there that stops him from alienating the thugs while he raps for teenaged girls.

    Ludacris has never recorded a verse that could legitimately be called "wack” and Theater of the Mind keeps that record intact. There’s no telling if Ludacris will ever be given the level of respect he desires, but this help proves that he deserves it.

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