Release Date: Nov 25, 2008
Record label: Def Jam
Ludacris :: Theater of the MindDTP/Def JamAuthor: Steve 'Flash' Juon"Yeah! Now this is what they call poetry in motionMy soul BLEEDS on the paper, heart SCREAMS with emotionIt's my daily devotion, that verses stay deeper than the oceanSo hip-hop you owe me a promotion!Yeah I do a lilttle boastin and bragginWhat's all the commotion and naggin about?Cause I'm still the champ in the South?Cause rappers get in the booth and I keep draggin 'em out?Well they fired! And these pink slips, I'm handin 'em outCause this is "Theater of the Mind," consider it a signof what's to come next, my money's just fineBank filled with DUMB checks! Terrorist threat flowProceed to drop bombs like Mr. Funk FlexBut I don't do it for the money, I do it from the heartI do it with the beatbox, I did it from the startI do it for the deejays, I do it for the chartsThe Van Gogh flow, Luda do it cause it's art!I do it for the fans, I do it on commandI do it for the front row, I do it for the standsI spit it for the hood, I do it for the blockAnd since nine years old I did it for hip-hop!" Honestly for me this review could start and end right there. Ever since Luda first made his national debut with "Back For the First Time" he's been steadily improving as an artist and a lyricist.
Releasing six (major label) albums is rare in rap, but Luda's are remembered more for their funny titles than for their timeless status, and he knows it. So here's his masterpiece theater. Finally. Conceptually, the Tinseltown theme is worthy of an Academy Award, from the cover art to the liner notes.
Consummate rapper-actor that he is, Ludacris is calling his latest project a Theater of the Mind and billing his guest vocalists as ”co-stars.” Of course, Luda himself is still cast in his signature role, the same affably ribald player with the unflappable flow whom audiences will recall from five previous features. What with all the A-listers who roll through — T.I.! Jay-Z! Ving Rhames? — Theater feels a bit like yet another Ocean’s Eleven sequel. We’ve watched this movie more than a few times, but it’s always fun to see this many talented pals cutting loose together.
Calling its guest vocalist co-stars and kicking-off with a "the movie's about to begin" intro, Ludacris' Theater of the Mind is dressed-up as some conceptual piece but this hodgepodge of high-gloss tracks just barely sticks together. While his previous effort, 2006's Release Therapy, was much more the thematically tight album and deserved a concept, this loose set of tunes is all-together more entertaining, thanks in no small part to a highly inspired Luda and all the punch lines he lands. Most are unquotable jokes that sound nothing but filthy when taken out of context -- especially the one about rappers so full of something they end up "rhyming in farts" -- but the superstar team-up with T.I.
Standing room onlyCollaboration tracks dominated 2008, an aesthetic writ large on Ludacris’ sixth album. All but two of Theater of the Mind’s tracks boast big-name rappers for this glossy snapshot of the hip-hop landscape. The cornucopia of voices leaves the leading man scant room to maneuver, but his towering persona overflows from the proscenium anyway.
Ludacris’ music has become increasingly thug while his career becomes more and more Hollywood and, well, suburban. Venturing into the occasional silver screen role, more or less playing himself, the Atlanta-based rapper often portrays a gun-toting hoodlum, much different from his public persona. And if ever Ludacris could be called thug or street—not really—now, by his own admission, his own animated flows have removed him from the world he seems to intent on (re)connecting with (“‘Cause Luda was set for life after three LPs”).