NEW ALBUM REVIEW & VIDEO: Ludacris- "Battle of the Sexes"

It was a clear night in L.A., I was in the front row of a Ludacris show and there was enough marijuana smoke floating around the arena to get Kid Cudi coughing. Life was good. To top it off, Shawnna was onstage repping for the DTP family by absolutely crushing the mic. As soon as she was done spitting, Luda dropped the lights and told the crowd to quiet down; he had an announcement to make. That announcement? His collabo album with Shawnna, Battle of the Sexes, was coming soon! The crowd went crazy. That was February…of 2009.

A lot has happened since then, the most important being that Shawnna has left DTP for Nappy Boy, a move that undoubtedly put a serious red light onto the project. But Luda didn’t get to be the biggest selling Southern rapper of all-time by giving up easily, so the man formerly known as DJ Lova Lova forged ahead, recruiting a bevy of female talent (including a smattering of Shawna appearances) and flipping Battle of the Sexes into an entertaining though by no means great album. You know how every once in a while Denzel Washington will do a flick like The Taking of Pelham 123 because he knows that even though the script isn’t very good, he’s talented enough to turn it into something audiences will enjoy and will bank him a few mill? Battle of Sexes is Ludacris’ Pelham 123, only instead of John Travolta trying to blow up a train we get Nicki Minaj rapping about her pu**y. Other than that though…

I’m on an analogy kick tonight, so let’s continue. I was hiking the other day and noticed that, incredibly, over thousands of years the wind had blown huge holes in the rock face. How Low is like that. The first few times I heard the now uber-smash, honestly, it aggravated the hell out of me (I think it was the oompa loompa Luda verse on the hook). But then, as I was inevitably blasted with How Low everywhere I went: at the club, at the gym, in the car, it wore away my defenses and worked its way into my heart through the sheer force of its persistence. You could actually say the same thing about My Chick Bad, a track that frankly isn’t anything special, but I now instinctively sing along every time it comes on. Hey Ho hasn’t had the same effect on me yet, although Lil Kim and Lil Fate’s forgettable guest verses are more responsible for my indifference than Luda. Come on people, I know the beat’s catchy, but hell, this isn’t even one of Luda’s top ten tracks with “Ho” in the title, and that’s saying something. As long as we’re at it, I’d also have to throw in the Gucci-assisted Party No Mo into this category. You may not think so now, but give it some time, and you’ll be bumping Party No Mo too.

Of course Luda doesn’t spend all of the album trying to battle the opposite sex. In fact, he spends most of it trying to f**k them, a tactic that’s most obvious on Sex Room. Aside the fact that I don’t know a woman who wouldn’t take off running when she got invited to a guy’s “sex room,” the album’s slowest slow jam is indicative of the album as a whole. The beat (by Kajun) isn’t incredible but it’s enough to grab you, the hook (by Trey Songz) is catchy and Luda delivers more than a couple dope punchlines – not nearly as many great punchlines as Sexting – but I digress. Actually, Sex Room isn’t even Battle’s best slow jam. That honor would have to go to Tell Me a Secret, a bedroom burner that Ne-Yo takes to the next level on the chorus. I’m not saying this album’s a baby maker, I’m just saying it’s closer than I expected.

My favorite moments on Battle are the tracks where Luda puts aside the gender concept and just makes dope cuts, most notably the not-even-remotely responsible Everybody Drunk and the bold and arrogant I Do It All Night. Ultimately, Battle of the Sexes is the worst album Luda’s ever done, but that just means all of his album’s have been incredible, and this is just pretty good. In any one else’s hands Battle of the Sexes would have been a disaster, but Ludacris’ rhymes skills are so on point he manages to make it pretty damn entertaining, and that might just be one of the best proofs of his prodigious talent yet.

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