I've never quite been sure where to place Chris "Ludacris" Bridges. While the man brings an undeniable and presence that makes him immediately recognizable every time he steps to the microphone, for most of his career, his association with crunk and output of less than thought-provoking material ("Move Bitch," "Stand Up," "Area Codes" among others), has prevented him from being put in the same level of the Scarfaces, Jays, and Nasir Jones'. I've always held that, for the first half of his career, Luda was consistently better on other people's material than his own. Like nearly everyone else on The College Dropout, he dominated Kanye on his own debut album, but there are a number of songs he has been featured on that managed to slip under the radar, but he also makes Field Mob's "Georgia" and even managed to turn Asher Roth's "I Love College" into a tolerable song.
Over the course of his last two albums, Release Therapy and Theater of the Mind, Bridges has started to transition into more serious material. The latter was one of the best albums of 2008 and although the prior contained number one hit, "Money Maker," it also bore witness to a definitive shift in the substance of his songs. Luda displays a much more worldy perspective and makes social commentary on everything from inequality in the justice system ("Do Your Time") to the mistreatment of women on the beautiful, Mary J. Blige-assisted, "Runaway Love." The album ends with the church choir backed "Freedom of Preach" that sees Chris Bridges taking a critical, yet uplifting look at his own life.
As far as his upcoming album, Battle of the Sexes, call me when Luda puts out another real album. Until then I'll just listen to his last two releases.
Peace, Love, & Luda,
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