As an actor Chris Bridges seems to be surging with various roles on the big screen already under his wing. As a rapper Ludacris isnt enjoying that same momentum. With millions of units sold over a span of six well received albums, the work he has put in is nothing to sneeze at.
But on the flipside Luda feels he still doesnt get the proper respect he deserves as an emcee. With that hurdle in mind, Mr. Disturbing The Peace hopes to inject some of his movie mojo into his conceptually dabbed Theater Of The Mind (Def Jam).
The themed theatrics are set off on Intro. An usher announces the show is about to begin with Luda jumping in with his signature double time flow. Undisputed pits Cris inside the squared circle with famed boxer Floyd Mayweather in his corner. Don Cannon utilizes some sped up soul vocals over a dusty horn section to set the background for Luda to go in with a barrage of punch lines.
The feature progresses into some narrative scenes with Call Up The Homies and Southern Gangsta. The former finds Luda going back and forth with The Game and DTP artist Willy Northpole, as all three share accounts of their travels during tense moments. The latter goes for a more dramatic effect with actor Ving Rhames narrating the track with assistance from Rick Ross and Playaz Circle.
Where this sonic journey falters is the abundance and rather ineffectual supporting cast of guest appearances. We get the always customary T-Pain feature in the rather forgettable One More Drink. The radio friendly single What Them Girls Like with Chris Brown fails to leave any lasting impression as well.
The biggest disappointment lies within the Jay-Z and Nas collaboration I Do It For Hip-Hop. What could have been one of the biggest tracks of the year falls prey to boring production that takes away from a normally stellar lineup. Closing out the show is the sleek DJ Premier produced MVP and the surprisingly vibrant 9th Wonder engineered Do The Right Thing.
While Theater Of The Mind has some great moments (“Last Of A Dying Breed”) scattered throughout the disc, it lacks a true cohesion to bring everything together. As the headliner, Ludas solo act is also limited to only four out of fourteen tracks which ultimately dims the spotlight on his showmanship. Is this a reflection on his skills? Of course not, dude can still spit with the best of them. But a blockbuster this was not.
Ludacris Featuring T-Pain
“One More Drink”
Ludacris Featuring Floyd Mayweather