A Totally Biased Mixtape Review: Ludacris Blows The Critics, and Speakers, away, with “1.21 Gigawatts: Back to The First Time”

Ludacris, as my girlfriend would say, has what we in the biz call, an impeccable “rap voice”. A raspy, deep southern drawl, that makes you wish he was reading you bedtime stories every night. Unfortunately, Ludacris has been far busier furthering his acting career, rather than destroying tracks, and making other rappers wish they hadn’t messed with the DTP frontman.

Luda dropped “Theater of The Mind” in 2008, but it didn’t exactly thrill audiences. Later down the road, in 2010, Ludacris came back with “Battle of The Sexes”, again, no one was really amped up about the tracks, except for “My Chick Bad”, featuring the charismatic Nicki Minaj.

Well, yesterday, Ludacris dropped his highly anticipated mixtape, “1.21 Gigawatts: Back to The First Time”. There is something for everyone on this one, with a total of 12 tracks on the free release, which can’t be found here.

Opening with a bumpy intro, Luda drops a few samples, before going in on one of his now famous, “Ain’t nobody better” verses. As soon as it’s over, Luda attacks “Save it For Another Day“. The track has an interesting concept, with Luda sounding like he’s talking through a phone, an interesting effect added into production. The first of many features, Waka Flocka jumps in on “Rich and Flexin’” which samples “Cry Me a River”, before completely blasting into a cash money verse from Ludacris, and, well, whatever it is Flocka does.

Mothafucka can you buy that? Luda answers that question, and plenty more, on perhaps the catchiest tune on the entire tape. Ludacris samples a television clip for the chorus, and kills it for two verses.

“Get it I’m loco
I know peep ’em up like no dose
All night with the doors close
Woman jumping on my stick like pogo”

I wonder if my barber could gimme one of those...

History Lesson is a fun little interlude, which leads right into “Bada Boom“, which Luda directs at the up and coming rappers in the game who feel entitled to a piece of the pie. It serves as a reminder to all of us that Luda has been in the game longer than most today, and still brings the heat almost every single time. A harder beat serves “Bada Boom” perfectly, and Luda destroys it. Definitely one of the premier tracks on the tape.

“You softer than a Pillsbury dough boy
Don’t make me expose the truth, yousa a hoe boy
Don’t make me get on that stomp shit, and get back at it
You rappers ain’t even in my fuckin’ tax bracket!”

I was thrilled to see Ludacris get the lyrical talents of Meek Mill on the tape, and I was certainly not let down at all. “Say It To My Face” nears six minutes, and the beat changes dramatically from the verses to the chorus. It has a Lex Luger type feel, but is actually produced by Juicy J [of Three 6 Mafia fame]. Luda and Meek Mill go after the haters, especially those you like to start, and try to finish, beef over the internet via Twitter. One of the tapes better tracks.

Upon first hearing the synth beats open up “I Ain’t The One”, I got exactly what I expected: A dope collabo with 2 Chainz. ‘Cris destroys the first verse, and 2 Chainz doesn’t let the opportunity go to waste, as he slays the second verse before the rolling snares kick into the catchy chorus. Luda comes back for a third verse, and promptly bodies the track. Things are just heating up.

“Lone ranger, yeah I got my tonto
My nine got my back like Rajon Rondo”

Track number nine, “Shake and Fries“, which features the über talented Gucci Mane, makes you wonder how Ludacris put together such a fantastic tape while also snagging two of the least talented rappers I have ever heard in my life, Flocka, and Gucci. The chorus is awful, and almost was certainly written by Gucci. Ludacris drops the song for the ladies, or rather, about the ladies. Definitely not a track to get busy to, unless your girl enjoys being treated like a street hooker, or, according to this song, a Happy Meal. Not the greatest of tracks.

The first track Rozay and Luda got on together, "All I Do Is Win", was the club banger for 2010

Ludacris and Ricky Rozay?! C’Mon now, this is just too good for words. Drumma Boy produced this banger, which has the best beat on the entire tape, and changes often during the verses. “Do Somethin Strange” was absolutely killed by Luda and The Bawse, but the chorus leaves a little to be desired. The features keep hitting on the next track however, when Big Krit jumps on the Mike Will produced track “I’m On Fire“. Anyone who hasn’t listened to Krit, get on the bandwagon before it fills up. The beat isn’t my favorite, as it seems to be trying to find itself most of the team. Krit and Luda delivered, especially Luda’s second verse, and Krit’s, which closes out the song.

“Sprayed the Chevrolet red, like it’s from Cincinnati
Baby givin’ me head, with superior talent”

The final song of the tape, “What You Smokin’ On“, featuring the Weed Rap Prince himself, Wiz Khalifa, is the first weed track from Luda since one of the best ever, Blueberry Yum Yum. I warn you, before you click on that link, be prepared to have that shit stuck in your head aaaaall day. Now, this track is obviously no Yum Yum, but it’s a close second. Ludacris brings out the southern drawl for his two verses, which fit the song perfectly. Wiz couldn’t have been a better choice to compliment Luda, and he doesn’t disappoint.

“Smoking on something grown at home, so I can blow O’s
Nigga I’m from PGH but all my weed from Californ’
Can’t find the remote control: that’s how you know I’m stoned
All you do is call me, I got all the weed, papers, and bongs”

===================================

Final Grade: As far as the mixtape game is concerned, Ludacris delivers with this one. If I had a gripe to pick, I know that Luda could’ve gotten some better production behind this project. A Luger, Alex Da Kidd, or Khaled produced track would’ve been very welcomed. Still a great track to bump in the whip, home, or Dre’s, but it had more potential. Score this one a 7/10, but if this is the prelude to Luda’s next album, consider me hooked.

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