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Ludacris coasts but still satisfies

Kenyatta Storin | Thursday, February 24, 2005

Another Ludacris album, another million sold. At this point, Ludacris could probably come out with a folk album and it would still fly off the shelves.Ludacris’ latest platinum album, “The Red Light District,” is not all that different from his past work, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Although Ludacris’ songs are always rather simple in scope – think money, partying, women, marijuana, etc. – more often than not, his distinguished, charismatic flow and knack for coming up with sharp, witty one-liners more than make up for his lack of original content. While Ludacris is not the best rapper out there, he is certainly one of the wittiest and funniest.And he is never one to take himself too seriously, as shown on “Number One Spot,” where Ludacris raps to a remix of the “Austin Powers” theme, spouting references to the movie with lines like, “Causin’ lyrical disasters, it’s the master / Make music for Mini-Me’s, models and Fat Bastards,” while also taking the time to take a shot at Bill O’Reilly, “Hi Mr. O’Reilly! / Hope all is well, kiss the plaintiff and the wifey.” Although “Austin Powers” jokes are a bit dated and clichéd nowadays, Ludacris makes the film references sporadically enough to pull them off without becoming annoying. He shows he can be serious every now and then too, like on the introspective “Child of the Night,” where he raps, “It seems like the whole world is out for sinkin’ my boat / But with God as my navigator I’ll be stayin’ afloat.” Ludacris is also impressive on the chill, feel-good jam “Spur of the Moment,” the Timbaland-produced “The Potion” and the old school “Virgo” with Nas and Doug E. Fresh. “The Red Light District” also benefits from good production from not only big-name producers like Timbaland and Organized Noize (“Blueberry Yum Yum”), but also lesser known ones like The Medicine Men (“Get Back”) and Polow Da Don (“Pimpin’ All Over the World”). This is a nice improvement from Ludacris’ last album, “Chicken-N-Beer,” which suffered from mediocre production by no-name producers.Unfortunately, there are still times when Ludacris’ charisma cannot overcome his banal content, like on tracks such as “Put Your Money,” a forgettable song with DMX about gambling and “Two Miles an Hour,” an uninteresting song about cars. However, by far the worst cut is “Who Not Me,” which features horrible rappers Small World and Dolla Boy, along with a dull, uninspiring verse by Ludacris himself.Like most successful rap stars, Ludacris has lost some of his edge and drive over the course of his career. He still boasts and brags that he is one of the best, but as evidenced by tracks like “Who Not Me” and “Put Your Money,” he does not put his all into every song. And although he is usually clever and humorous, the lack of originality in his song content prevents “The Red Light District” from being as good as it could have been. That being said, it is still entertaining, and fans of his past albums hoping for more of the same will get exactly what they are looking for.