Ludacris, Back For The First Time
He's a fun guy, and maybe just that
Technically this is Ludacris's second album, after his independently released Incognegro. But the cleverly titled Back For The First Time strips out many of the songs from that first album, tidies them up, and surrounds them with a couple of massive singles from high-profile producers — Timbaland's "Phat Rabbit" and The Neptunes' "Southern Hospitality" — so it feels like his first shot. The post-2 Live Crew bounce of "What's Your Fantasy" is the song that made the one-time Atlanta radio disc jockey Chris "Lova Lova" Bridges a pop star, but it's those other songs that made a truly interesting player.
Ludacris succeeds without subtlety — in spite of it actually. He has no real identity, other than Good Rapper. We never know him. He raps hard, his harrumphing voice constantly battling his own wit. Sometimes the voice gets the better of him, and head-slapping metaphors abound. From the gleeful, beat box jam "Mouthing Off": "Give me full body massage, I still can’t be touched!" But when Luda is in the pocket, as on "Southern Hospitality," he takes dead air and repetitive schemes to new and profound places: "Hand me down flip flops, hand me down socks/ Hand me down drug dealers hand me down rocks/ Hand me down a 50 pack swisher sweets box/ And goodfella rich niggas hand me down stocks." Ludacris is best heard without reflection, in a visceral moment. He's a fun guy, and maybe just that.