A concept album always seems like a bit of a conceit. That’s especially true in hip hop, where the results of such projects have ranged from incredible (think Masta Ace’s A Long Hot Summer) to average (like, say, T.I. vs. T.I.P.) to forgettable (examples too numerous to list).
Bringing Ludacris and Shawnna together for a whole album exploring the differing viewpoints of men and women when it comes to sex, relationships and life didn’t seem like an idea destined to be an instant classic – or much of a fair fight, frankly – but Luda has pretty much earned the right to do whatever he wants at this point. In the end it didn’t even matter, as Shawnna was jettisoned when she left Disturbing tha Peace.
So Battle of the Sexes ended up as simply the latest Ludacris solo album, albeit one focused primarily on a narrow list of subjects. Other female guest stars have been enlisted, including Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, Monica, Trina and Eve, but the final product is largely a snapshot of the current state of affairs between males and females as interpreted by Chris Bridges.
That means you shouldn’t expect to hear the full range of Luda’s lyrics as showcased on his last joint, Theater of the Mind. Lead single “How Low” (a.k.a. “that chipmunk song”) and follow-up “My Chick Bad” are pretty representative of what’s in store, which is mostly club and radio-friendly fare.
Of course, Ludacris is skilled enough to make you listen even with one proverbial hand thematically tied behind his back. For proof, check out “Sex Room,” a track created by Kajun than musically calls to mind The Show, the After Party, the Hotel-era Jodeci – which is a compliment, in case you’re wondering.
With Trey Songz crooning in the background, Luda comes directly at the ladies: “It’s about to get real X-rated, can you handle what I’m ‘bout to do? / But enough about me, let me think, should I be worrying about if I can handle you? / Damn right I’ma get that thang, and I’ma put my name on it. / All night I’ma whip that thang, Allstate better put a claim on it.”
Another gem is the Neptunes-produced “Sexting,” which cleverly weaves text message lingo into the story of a guy who can’t stop chasing some tail. This kind of light, humorous song seems forced when some rappers do it, but it suits one aspect of Luda’s personality perfectly.
Since the other facets of his lyricism aren’t represented, Battle of the Sexes isn’t for everyone. At worst, though, it’s mostly harmless, and at best it’s something to make you laugh a bit or sing along when no one’s looking while you wait for Ludacris’ next non-concept release.
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