Artist: LudacrisTitle: The Red Light DistrictRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Matt Barone
When youre a rap superstar in the vein of Ludacris, life seemingly becomes one big party; money flows in with ease, girls drop to their knees at the sight of you, weed piles up by the dime bag, and gallons of liquor equal endless good times. Whether this is completely true or not is only known to Luda and his crew, but, throughout the course of his fourth album, The Red Light District (DTP/Def Jam), these perks of life are extensively covered as Luda draws parallels between his native grounds of Atlanta and the carefree Red Light section of infamous Amsterdam. Rhyming about lifes finer things has always been the witty MCs strength, making The Red Light District a by-the-book exercise in formulas already familiar to his fans.
Despite a few signs of growth, Ludacris latest is basically more of the same from one of the games more entertaining voices. This isnt necessarily a bad thing, though, as Luda continues to craft addictive numbers that transcend nationwide tastes and should bump in any Hip-hop fans speakers. KLC provides forceful horns and strings for Luda to issue angry commands on the rowdy Get Back, while DJ Green Lantern turns the Austin Powers theme music (Quincy Jones Soul Bossa Nova) into a fierce instrumental as Luda fires off confident boasts at all naysayers, including his highly-publicized enemy Bill OReilly. Jim Crow member Polo shows off his production skills on the laidback Pimpin All Around The World, and playful organs elevate the generic money dedication Large Amounts into Rewind worthy material. Ludacris is at his best, however, on the scorching Potion, as Timbaland concocts an insane blend of tribal percussion and ambient sound effects for our host to declare, 58 but still a big shot, plus I got a big cock/ Get clean everyday, stay fresher than whats in a Zip Loc/ Tell your man to kick rocks, when I make my pit stops Im in, then its hard to get me out like Im a slip knot.
Thankfully, Ludacris opts to take some artistic chances on The Red Light District, and the results are successful. Nas checks in on the nostalgic Virgo to glide over Doug E. Freshs vintage beatbox skills, while L.T. Mos lively Left Coast creation fits Luda and DJ Quiks back-and-forth verses like a glove on Spur of the Moment. Newcomer Voodoo turns Teena Maries Portuguese Love into a haunting backdrop on Child of the Night, as Nate Doggs hook nicely anchors Ludas introspection, confessing, I admit to being caught by many foolish distractions, and Im forced to pay the price as a result of my actions.
DMXs generic chorus and Ice Drakes tired bells do little to help the weak Put Your Money. Besides this disposable inclusion, though, The Red Light District plays through with steady enjoyment. The main problem that plagues the record is Ludacris complacency, resting in a comfort zone that too many others have established residence in since he first asked listeners Whats Your Fantasy? Still, while many may try to duplicate his style, Ludacris is a one-of-a-kind MC in todays rap landscape, delivering verses with signature flash and punchline prowess. For that, The Red Light District chalks up another victory for Luda.