17 November 2011

Review: Ludacris, "1.21 Gigawatts: Back To The First Time" (mixtape)

"Ludacris sucks now."

Someone told me this a few months ago. Unfortunately, I had to co-sign on the sentiment. Well, I wouldn't say that I thought he "sucked," per se, but I was disappointed with a lot of the work that I'd been seeing from him in the past few years. Sure, his classics stood out and could still go toe to toe with a lot of newer cats, but he wasn't continuing to bring fire like he used to. Most recently, Ludacris popped off with a handful of hot tracks on each album, but his focus didn't bring us consecutively amazing full length albums. I think someone told Luda the same thing, because he's revamped his efforts at the mic and has blessed us with the fiery mixtape, appropriately co-titled "Back To The First Time."

Hardcore fans of the Mouf of da South know of his work leading back to "Back For The First Time," his triple platinum release from 2000 that blessed us with Ho, Southern Hospitality and the banger What's Your Fantasy. He became known for his punch and duck flows, hitting you with humor and nifty metaphors before ducking off, leaving you with the sweet taste of an emcee (*pause*) that was ready to take over the game in style. His next few albums gave us more of the same, but something eventually changed. Some argue that he succumbed to the pressures of wanting to become Hollywood. Some people stated that Ludacris was drowning in a sea of weak emcees and a weaker industry. Some said that he was just plain ol' losing his touch.

I refused to believe any of those and was pleasantly surprised when I copped this mixtape. His flows return to their rapid fire state, his lyrics began packing the punch that I initially knew him for, and Luda reclaims his place as one of this generations best. With production by M16, Drumma Boy and Juicy J, Ludacris runs the gambit of subjects, ranging from golddigging women to the "pause: stop" flow that's invaded the verses of many younger artists like Drake and Nicki Minaj.

In fact, Luda makes it a special point to speak on the "pause: stop" flow on the "History Lesson" interlude and how it's been around a LOT longer than many think, going so far as to sample clips of Method Man and Biggie using the formula. The My Chick Bad rapper is determined to make sure that the world doesn't forget him, and does a hell of a job ensuring that his name and status isn't forgotten.

Coincidentally, Ludacris is gearing up for a 2012 release of his next studio album, Ludaversal, and with releases like this, will be primed to take over the number one spot if he keeps dishing out mixtapes and verses such as featured here.

The bottom line is that Luda is back like he never left and deserves to have you cop this mixtape. Sure, some of the beats are recycled from other artists or albums, but so? He puts his unique spin on it and gives you a ludicrous mixtape for free. This mixtape? Nifty approved...

Stay tuned for our review of Mac Miller's "Blue Slide Park" and Drake's "Take Care," both coming soon!

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