Ludacris: Strong, Deep, and a Little Brash

I’ve had many great nights dancing out with friends to these tunes, so they are forever in my memory of good-ass nights.

I’m not sure if it’s irony or fate that has me writing about Ludacris just as he’s released new music (“Vitamin D”) and starred in the latest Fast and the Furious movie. When I heard his song “What’s Your Fantasy?” featuring Shawnna, my mom and I were venturing around Memphis. “I want to lick, lick, lick, lick you from your head to your toes” played before my mom changed the station with a quick “They put anything on the radio nowadays.” She was disgusted, but not me.

I was intrigued. The beat was nice and I liked how Shawnna owned her womanhood. (Hindsight is 20/20: I definitely did not feel this way as an 11-year-old.) That’s pretty much the only song I know from Back for the First Time. Then came Word of Mouf, one of my favorites from Ludacris. It had just the right amount of everything, and while it was released in 2001, I didn’t fall in love with it until my high school and college years.

Ludacris’s style was dramatic but smooth. I loved his regular speaking voice—strong, deep, and a little brash—which I’m sure distinguished him on the radio when he was known as DJ Chris Luva. As the South was already becoming a much more dominating force in hip-hop, Ludacris brought us Disturbing the Peace, which gave us party, love, fun, fight, family and gratefulness.

Word of Mouf had all of my favorites: “Rollout,” “Go 2 Sleep,” “She Said,” “Move Bitch,” “Growing Pains,” and “Welcome to Atlanta.” “If you tired be quiet and go to sleep hoe,” he said in the hook. There were many days I chanted those lyrics throughout the house as my mom had gone to one of her numerous evening meetings. The lines were always followed by “I’m doing a hundred on the highway/ So if you do the speed limit, get the f**k outta my way/ I’m D.U.I., hardly ever caught sober and you abouts to get ran the f**k over/ Move bitch, get out the way.”

Admittedly, I love an aggressive song and to belt it out at the top of my lungs after a hard day’s work or getting caught in Nashville traffic. Songs like this are a form of therapy for me. With each lyric, I take out my frustration, and instantly, feel relief especially on those days when yoga just isn’t enough.

Chicken-n-Beer was the next LP Ludacris released, and it boasted summer classics: “Stand Up” and “P-Poppin’.” He also gave us a sultry smash with “Splash Waterfalls,” which tells the story of two lovers romantically and explicitly.

“Whoa! Don’t slip up or get got! (Why not man?)/ I’m comin’ for my number one spot.” I remember this song being a part of Austin Powers and it was always so fun to sing—this, plus “Get Back” and “The Potion” from The Red Light District, an ode to the area of the same name in Amsterdam.

Then there were Release Therapy, Theater of the Mind, and Battle of the Sexes, which featured “Money Maker,” “Runaway Love,” “What Them Girls Like,” “How Low,” “My Chick Bad,” and “Sex Room”—the latter three being my absolute favorites from their composition to the emotions they bring. I’ve had many great nights dancing out with friends to these tunes, so they are forever in my memory of good-ass nights.

Now I would be lying if I said I listened to many albums past this one, even though he’s released at least two since. But outside of his musical contributions, Ludacris has introduced us to the likes of Bobby Valentino, Chingy, Shawnna, Playaz Circle (Tity Boi, now 2 Chainz and Dolla Boy), Shareefa, and Field Mob. I mean, what other rapper has given us such a great roster of talent (excluding Big Boi and Andre 3000)? This is a snapshot of all the great things 2000s-era hip-hop and R&B music blessed us with.

Ludacris, thank you for sharing your diary with us and presenting talented artists that have made their place in history and our hearts. Your energy, resiliency, and growth over time have truly been great things to watch, and that why you’re brown suga. | Ashley White

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