Discography Check: Ludacris

By @TrueGodImmortal 

One of the most underrated rappers in hip hop to me has always been Ludacris. Sure he's made the transition to acting now, but I really was a huge fan of his work during the 2000s. His feature verses, his albums, and everything he's accomplished in the game has been top notch. Today, we wanted to look back at his entire discography and see how it holds up. Luda was once seen as one of the most consistent and today we take a deeper look into that claim. Let's get into it.

*Incognegro (1999)

-In many ways, when I think of the first official album that Def Jam released the following year, it was really just Luda's actual first album with a few added additions. This first album showcases a hungry Ludacris spitting with humor laced lyricism and fun concepts, alongside his Disturbing The Peace crew. It was this album that seemingly pushed Luda to bigger heights and opened up the doors for his official Def Jam South Records deal. The official release says it dropped in 2000, but the initial release of the album came in 1999, before it got better distribution going forward. Two of his most infamous tracks originated on this album, as both "Ho" and "What's Your Fantasy were featured on this album. It was a solid introduction and probably an underground classic considering what a re-release of the album would do just a few months later via Def Jam.

Top 3 Songs
"Game Got Switched"
"What's Your Fantasy"

*Back For The First Time (2000)

-In what was really just Inconegro with a few tracks replaced, this album really put Luda on the map. The Def Jam South machine rested squarely on his back and he did not disappoint. Although it was a bit lazy to just release an updated Incognegro, to a majority of the world, these songs are essentially brand new when they hear them. The songs that he added to the album ended up making the album even better and somehow more cohesive. This triple platinum release from Luda didn't disappoint, but as mentioned, it's really just a re-release of Incognegro with a couple new additions from the white hot production team The Neptunes and the legendary Timbaland, as well a feature from southern legends UGK. Though not a classic or his best, this album was the mainstream introduction to Ludacris.

Top 3 Songs
"Stick Em Up"
"Southern Hospitality"

*Word Of Mouf (2001)

-I think this is the best Luda album and it's not really close IMO. There was a level of focus in this album that made it his best. It was the balance between the hits, the more serious songs, and the anthems that makes this his most well rounded album. Whether it was the hilarity in the skits ("Greatest Hits" skit is absolutely the funniest skit I've ever heard on a Ludacris album), the humor in his songs/verses ( "Move Bitch" is hilarious in its own right just based off the title), or even the upbeat energy that's on most of the singles ("Saturday" comes to mind), Luda delivered. One of my favorite songs comes in the form of a Faizon Love intro, a fast flowing Twista guest verse, a slick Jagged Edge hook, and the humorous yet dope Ludacris lyricism that we've come to love on "Freaky Thangs". Overall, this has just a few songs that either don't hit the mark or just aren't as dope, but this album is as close to a classic as Luda has gotten.

Top 3 Songs
"Growing Pains"
"Keep It On The Push"
"Coming 2 America"

*Disturbing The Peace- Golden Grain (2002)

-This is essentially a group album with Luda's whole squad and truthfully, this was a slept on project. I'll keep it brief here, as it isn't necessarily a noteworthy release in the Luda discography, but Lil Fate, Tity Boi (2 CHAINZ), and I-20 get their time to shine while Shawnna kept her growing buzz going with her verses here. There's some solid music, along with some pretty cool features on this project (Twista always showcases good chemistry with DTP), and the production doesn't really disappoint. The album also secured a gold plaque, so that has to be a victory for the DTP brand.

Top 3 Songs
"Break Sumthin"
"Smoking Dro"

*Chicken N Beer (2003)

-If there is one thing that was true about Luda in the early 2000s, it's that he was one of the most consistent rappers during the era. This album continued his streak of dope albums, and though it was quite as good as Word of Mouf, I think Luda showcased his versatility on this project without question. You could see Luda wanted to be taken more seriously as a MC while still having fun in his music, and he executed that very well on this album. From the attempt at showcasing more serious lyricism on "Hip Hop Quotables" produced by Erick Sermon, to the knocking vibe of the two DJ Paul and Juicy J produced tracks "We Got" featuring the DTP click (Chingy really came with a dope verse) and the smooth "Diamond In The Back". Those are two of my favorite songs on the entire album, and this project would prove to be one of the more successful ones for Luda overseas, and he almost hit triple platinum for a third time here in the US, as this project sold 2.8 million overall, a huge win for Luda and DTP.

Top 3 Songs
"Splash Waterfalls"
"Diamond In The Back"
"We Got"

*The Red Light District (2004)

-If there's a Ludacris album that remains slept on, I'd like to think this is the one. When it first released, I can't lie, I wasn't the biggest fan due to the singles. I thought "Get Back" was pretty bland as a single, and thought this might be an indicator of what the album could bring. I was a bit mistaken. While the DMX featured "Put Your Money" was a huge disappointment, the songs like the Bobby V assisted single "Pimpin All Over the World" and the Nate Dogg featured "Child Of The Night" showcase Luda at his best, making hits and still letting his lyrical ability shine through at the same time. There are some really solid album cuts here like the Trick Daddy assisted soulful "Hopeless", "Two Miles An Hour", and some infamous singles like the Quincy Jones sampled and Austin Powers inspired "Number One Spot" and of course the Nas and Doug E. Fresh assisted "Virgo". With over 2 million copies sold and a double platinum certification, Luda really got yet another victory. He could just about do no wrong during this era.

Top 3 Songs
"Child Of The Night"
"Blueberry Yum Yum"
"The Potion"

*Ludacris Presents... Disturbing The Peace (2005)

-Though not an official Ludacris album, I had to include this one, much like I included Golden Grain on this list. I think in some ways, this album is better than Golden Grain, but in other areas, it isn't. Verse wise, I prefer Golden Grain, while the production is better here and some of the actual songs themselves sound better here. This was after the inclusion of Bobby V, Shareefa, and Field Mob to DTP so it worked out well when they had appearances on tracks. Shawnna only makes one appearance, which speaks to the issues she was rumored to have with the label, and while this was merely a showcase for the new artists, I-20 and Lil Fate make their presence known, while Tity Boi began his trek into a different lane by teaming up with Dolla Boy to become Playaz Circle during this time. You can see that DTP was becoming a bit uneven, while trying to be more well rounded, but this project has some really solid moments regardless.

Top 3 Songs
"Table Dance"
"You Ain't Got Enough"

*Release Therapy (2006)

-I loved this album when it first dropped. It ended up winning a Grammy, and is now certified double platinum (Luda had a consecutive string of multi platinum albums through the 2000s, which is NOT an easy feat to do), but it feels as if it is a slept on project in the Ludacris catalog. The reason why might be the singles, which seemed to miss the mark compared to previous singles from Luda. Tracks like "Money Maker", "Girls Gone Wild", and "Runaway Love" really didn't do anything for me (though "Runaway Love" was a decent song), but the songs seemed to be when Luda sounds more angry than we were used to ("Mouths To Feed", "Slap", "Tell It Like It Is", and the best song of the album "War With God") and he had better choices for singles on the Bobby V assisted "End of the Night" and the R. Kelly featured "Woozy", but for some reason they went with the weakest songs on the album to lead it off. Still, despite a few missteps, Luda makes a really good album overall that kept his consistency strong.

Top 3 Songs
"War With God"
"Tell It Like It Is"

*Theater Of The Mind (2008)

-Speed just did an article about Theater Of The Mind so I'll keep this one mostly short and sweet. This album came at a time when many people were beginning to count Luda out. Hollywood was calling him and his features didn't hold the same pizzazz as they once did. With this album, Luda intended to silence critics with a perfect blend of "real hip hop" and what he does best, make fun yet engaging music. This album is actually slightly better than Release Therapy to me, but with the sales of most artists dwindling by this time, Luda ended up only having this album crack 900,000 in sales making it JUST miss the platinum mark (it will probably cross that mark with the new streams = sales), and ending his streak of multi platinum albums. Still, as an album, this would have to be an actual victory because Luda brought greatness over production from 9th Wonder, DJ Premier, Don Cannon, and more.

Top 3 Songs
"Do The Right Thang"

*Battle of the Sexes (2010)

-In 2002, I was sure that Shawnna was the next one up in female hip hop. Well, although that didn't happen, it seems as though she was comfortable being next to Luda and working with him musically despite her lack of solo success (minus "Gettin' Some"). That comfort of working together would end up turning into this themed album, full of club anthems, party tracks, and sexual charged content. One of my favorite songs here actually wasn't a part of the original album, but on the deluxe edition as a Dru Hill feature (in 2010) created one of the most engaging hooks on the entire album on "Rollercoaster". The album isn't my personal favorite, but there's enough hits on this album to make it work.

Top 3 Songs
"Sex Room"
"Everybody Drunk"

*Burning Bridges (2014)

-This EP was one of those projects that just sort of snuck up on you in a way. I wasn't aware of the EP until a few weeks after it dropped, but I did enjoy the songs here. It was the first Luda solo project in over 6 years and his first new piece of music in almost 5 years. It was a welcome return and although the game had changed drastically, Luda managed to show that he can still create dope music alongside features from John Legend, Rick Ross, Miguel, and more.

Top 3 Songs
"Good Lovin"
"In My Life"

*Ludaversal (2015)

-This album actually was pretty solid and it just flew under the radar. I actually have a few of my all time favorite Luda songs on this album. While most of my favorites come from the Word of Mouf through Red Light District era, this album features some great tracks. I'd go as far to say that Ludaversal might actually be better than other releases from Luda like Release Therapy and Theater Of The Mind. It has a well balanced sound and the production doesn't falter throughout the album, but there are moments that just stick out over the rest of the album. The biggest one is the classic Usher assisted track "Not Long", which continues my theory that Luda and Usher can't make bad songs together. Lyrically, Luda is in his bag on this one and though the album didn't get as much attention as it should have (it did debut at no. 3 on the Billboard charts though), it is still a very good album.

Top 3 Songs
"Not Long"
"Come And See Me"
"Lyrical Healing"

Luda is one of the last remnants of that early 2000s era and while he isn't the same rapper he was 17 years ago, he's definitely a hip hop legend who has gone slept on through the years. His discography doesn't boast a ton of classics, but it does maintain one thing many discographies can't: consistency.



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