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DAR Hip Hop: Ranking Ludacris' Albums


By @TrueGodImmortal


One of the most consistent rappers in his prime, Ludacris was on top of the world, knocking out album after album while lifting up Def Jam South in the process. We referenced Luda and his run through our Def Jam article recently, but today, we wanted to look at his discography and rank his albums from best to worst. Missing from this list are the DTP group projects and the EP Burning Bridges (it features songs from Ludaversal), but every solo Luda album is here for sure. Which album ranks at no. 1? Which is his worst? Let's take a look.

8. Battle Of The Sexes (2010)


-This was supposed to be an album with Luda and Shawnna together, but for whatever reason, the album ended up as a Ludacris solo album with a ton of guest appearances. Because of this, the album doesn't work nearly as well, as some of the guests don't fit as well as Shawnna would have. As a result, this project has the honor of being the worst Luda album and it is pretty clear. Production wise, the album isn't too bad, as some beats definitely have knock to them, but overall, the album just falls flat. Lyrically, no one expects much from Luda on a project like this, and he doesn't go out of his way to drop any top tier verses, but we do get some hit records like "How Low", "Everybody Drunk", the Nicki Minaj featured "My Chick Bad", and the Isley Brothers sampling hit "Sex Room" featuring Trey Songz. Battle Of The Sexes does have moments where the music shines, but it is an uneven project that stands as the biggest blip on Luda's discography.

7. Ludaversal (2015)


-I actually liked this album for the most part. While most people wrote it off as a Ludacris album in 2015, I really didn't see the issue. Luda had been away for 5 years from music, but still felt as if he had something to say. He did. While Ludaversal was not the best title and some of the music here can come off corny, for the most part, Luda does what is expected of him I believe. Witty rhymes, comedic punchlines, and catchy tracks are in full force here, with production from David Banner, Illmind, Just Blaze, Mike Will Made It, and more. The guest appearances are solid here as well, with Usher, Monica, Big K.R.I.T., and Miguel assisting on some of the best tracks on the album like "Not Long" (my favorite), "Come And See Me", and "Good Lovin". All in all, Ludaversal isn't the best Ludacris album, but it is a reminder of what we loved Luda for in the first place.

6. The Red Light District (2004)


-I love this album, but I'm able to recognize the shortcomings of it. It was one of my least favorite Luda albums at the time of release, but in retrospect, it was a solid album from top to bottom, minus a few small exceptions. After the first three official projects from Luda that were considered really good, it felt like a slight drop in quality and perhaps his lyrical output seemed lazier than usual on this album. Production wise, this album is actually one of his strongest, with Timbaland, Organized Noize, DJ Toomp, and more contributing some excellent sounds to the album. The features are solid with Bobby V, Nas, Trick Daddy, Sleepy Brown, Nate Dogg, and more providing top tier assists for Luda. The highlights here are "Blueberry Yum Yum", "Child Of The Night" (my favorite), "The Potion", and of course, "Pimpin All Over The World". This album isn't perfect by far, but it is a good listen from start to finish, that suffers only with cliche by the numbers tracks ("Who Not Me", "Get Back", "Put Your Money").

5. Theater Of The Mind (2008)


-Perhaps the most underrated Luda album. Theater of The Mind is not a classic and it does have some shortcomings, but it features some of the most solid music Luda has ever made surprisingly. Production wise, Luda gets some of the most "traditional" hip hop sounds that we've heard him on, and works it to perfection. Production from Don Cannon, 9th Wonder, DJ Premier, and Three 6 Mafia make for a great sound, while the features are some of the most notable in his career. Luda brings Common and Spike Lee together for a track, has Jay-Z and Nas together for a track, Lil Wayne drops a monster verse, Jamie Foxx assists, we finally get a solid T.I. and Luda collab, and he even brings Chris Rock and Floyd Mayweather to his album. The cinematic theme of the album works well also, but the weakness of the album seems to be in the singles. Every single on the album gets a skip from me, but tracks like "Undisputed", "MVP", "Do The Right Thang", "Last Of A Dying Breed", and "Let's Stay Together" all make for a great listen.

4. Release Therapy (2006)


-I used to be on the fence about this album. It was intended to showcase a more serious side of Luda. It did that. However, it is not without its flaws. Those flaws are minimal, but what makes this album top 4 to me is that there is a level of focus from Luda that we hadn't heard before, at least not in this manner. While some tracks leave you disappointed ("Money Maker" was a hit but is boring, "Girls Gone Wild" is unnecessary, "Ultimate Satisfaction" is average), there are a few tracks that might blow you away ("Warning" and "War With God" instantly come to mind). Despite the slight corniness of "Runaway Love", it did have a message and was successful, and isn't a bad song. For me however, in addition to the classic "War With God", Luda shines on tracks like "Slap", the Young Jeezy featured "Grew Up A Screw Up", and "Do Your Time" which features Beanie Sigel, the legendary Pimp C, and C-Murder. All in all, Release Therapy has different elements that the previous Luda albums didn't, while still keeping what we enjoyed from him before in tact. That's a victory for sure.

3. Back For The First Time (2000)/Inconegro (1999)



-Instead of including Incongero separately, I made sure to include Back For The First Time with an asterisk by the name essentially, along with Inconegro listed next to it. Inconegro is the same album with a few different tracks, so having separate rankings for them just didn't seem to make any sense. So, when talking these two projects that are basically a glorified version of each other, it's only right to point out the differences in the two. Inconegro has a few tracks that Back For The First Time does not, and those include "Midnight Train", "A Rock And A Hard Place", and "It Wasn't Us". Everything else is in tact on Back For The First Time, with only the newer additions of "Stick Em Up", "Southern Hospitality", "Phat Rabbit", and the remix to "What's Your Fantasy". Previously, I felt that Back For The First Time was the second best album, but upon revisiting his work, I realized that it is comfortable in the top 3. This is a really good album, and Luda sounds hungry on a number of the tracks, which only adds to the quality of course.

2. Chicken-N-Beer (2003)


-I found that I loved this album more than I ever remembered before. The third official Ludacris album was a great listen, and there is a piece of me that wants to actually rank it at no. 1, but.... that's impossible. I think it is well known which Luda album takes the no. 1 spot, but Chicken-N-Beer is extremely close. The highlights are top notch, and even the rare occasion when Luda misses on the album doesn't even seem that big of an issue. For me, the only two tracks that I skip on this album are "Eyebrows Down" and "Screwed Up", and those aren't bad tracks, they just don't have the same vibe as the others on the album. The production here is solid with contributions from Erick Sermon, DJ Paul and Juicy J, Kanye West, and Ron Browz, just to name a few. There are so many great tracks here from "Hard Times" to "Splash Waterfalls" to "We Got" to "Teamwork" even to the hilarious "Hoes In My Room", that is it hard to rank this album correctly. In some ways, it is the best Luda album, in others, it is the second or third best. Whatever the case may be, I have Chicken-N-Beer at no. 2 and that's final..... for now at least.

1. Word Of Mouf (2001)


-There you have it. The best Luda album. In some ways, it could be the no. 2 album, under Chicken-N-Beer in terms of production, but for the overall experience, I dont think there is any other choice besides Word Of Mouf. The album has Luda at his best lyrically, concept wise, and just overall song wise. Perhaps it is my personal nostalgia coming into play slightly, but from the opening lines of the intro "Coming 2 America", Luda controls the microphone with a variety of flows and delivers hits in different forms. The creative sound of "Rollout (My Business)" brings to life a Timbaland production, while "Move Bitch" forever remains a party starter, and the smooth sound of "Area Codes" cannot be denied. This is the album where all of the singles Luda released truly connected and that plays a part in this album being so well received. Along with solid album tracks like "She Said", "Growing Pains", "Keep It On The Hush", and the classic "Freaky Thangs", Luda rarely misses on this album. Is Word Of Mouf a classic? That's debatable, but it is the best Luda album.

-True

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