Artist: LudacrisTitle: Release TherapyRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: KeiSaundra "K Sincere" Henderson
Five albums later, Ludacris is much more than a Hip-Hop artist, but an activist for the black community. His latest, Release Therapy (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam) is exactly what is says-therapy to release his irritation with the Hip-Hop game. With plenty of jabs at the competition, club tracks and a few for the ladies, Release Therapy aims to remind audiences that he's not a rapper turned actor, but a musical threat to the industry. While this release is not a "classic" it is undeniably very different from what's coming out of the south. Consider it an alternative to the lean, rock and snap movement that also furnishes plenty of reasons to respect Luda's hustle.
The internet-rumored diss track aimed at T.I., "War with God", beyond a doubt deserves a spot on Luda's lyrical resume. Before this track, audiences know Luda more for commercial controversy with the likes of corporate giants like Pepsi. This time around Luda addresses issues surrounding other emcees and their credibility. "I neva claim to be nothing but who the f*ck I am/Never sold cocaine in my life, but I'm still the f*cking man." Once again Luda sets himself apart, straying from the hype of "Trap Music". Luda with the help of Pimp C, Beanie Sigel and C-Murder, also makes time motivate victims of the judicial system. While it's clear that Luda's inexperienced in this department, the simple words "Do ya time, don't let ya time do you," are just enough to provide hope to black men trapped in a box we call prison.
"Runaway Love" featuring Mary. J. Blige is a story of young black women lost-not in the judicial system, but within their families and the community. Domestic abuse and teenage pregnancy are all too familiar to black women, and Mary J's vocals makes the perfect addition to this ballad.
Release Therapys production from beginning to end will keep listeners interested, but it isn't enough to overshadow the lack of lyrical domination. Ludacris makes a healthy attempt to be a lyricist on tracks like "Grew Up a Screw Up", "Ultimate Satisfaction" and "War with God", but it takes more than good production, messages and OK lyrics to make a "great" album. While his delivery can get at times too commercially friendly, on Release Therapy there's an unquestionable passion to save Hip-Hop.