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It’s Official, Ludacris Has Fallen OffPosted by Nathan S. on 11/27/12 | Filed under Top Stories, Opinion, Ludacris
First, let's lay down some facts. Ludacris is a first ballot Hip-Hop Hall of Famer, a man who has sold millions of albums, helped establish Atlanta as a true rap epicenter and laid down some of the illest rhymes in hip-hop history. There was a time circa 2004/2005 when he was legitimately in the best rapper alive conversation; he was certainly the king of the guest verse.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when Luda started to slip from the top, but 2010 and his "Battle of the Sexes" album is as good of a landmark as any. His previous project, "Theater of the Mind" was very good, although not excellent, and showcased an emcee who could indisputably call legends like Nas and Jay-Z peers.
Compared to his previous work "Battle of the Sexes" was bland and uninspired, but at the time I assumed it was an anomaly. Instead, it turned out "Battle of the Sexes" was Ludacris' new norm. Since then, over two years now for the record, the "oh shit!" moments we'd come to expect from Luda have almost completely dried up. His only full length release, his "Gigawatt" mixtape, was almost shockingly ignored for a free project from such a famous rapper, and all of his guest work has ranged from decent to outright bad. Maybe it's no surprise then that his "Ludaversal" album was pushed back from a September, 2012, release to "sometime before 'Detox" status.
And then "In the A" dropped and summed up Ludacris' career in one verse:
Luda's closing verse isn't bad, he's still too talented to be openly wack, but I don't think there's any question that he's got the third best verse on a three verse track. As I wrote in the comments, Big and TIP killed their verses, Ludacris just slapped his around a bit. What's most concerning here is that we have to assume that this is the best Luda is capable of;. Ultimately, I wouldn't blame him for coasting through a guest verse for Future, but if he didn't give a track with two of his main peers/competitors everything he had, he must really not give a fuck.
It reminds me of when Kanye said, "This a song with Wayne so you know its go melt / But you aint finna murder me like everybody else / Imma rap like I got some type respect for myself" on the "Lollipop (Remix)". Yeezy recognized that if he was going to be an elite emcee there was no fucking way he could get worked over by Wayne. You'd think Luda would have brought the same "there's no fucking way I'm getting murked by Big and T.I." energy to "In the A"...apparently not. I don't know who Luda was referring to when he said, "None of you ni**as will ever out rap me," but he must not have been referring to Big and T.I., because they both just out rapped him.
As RefinedHype citizen Rickjamesbitch pointed out, it looks like Ludacris is veering alarmingly close to becoming the Allen Iverson of rap, a man with overwhelming talent who went from elite NBA point guard to playing in China in just a few years. As a Celtics fans I would also have to compare him to Rasheed Wallace, who showed up to the 2010 season overweight with an "I'm Rasheed motherfucking Wallace, I'm a veteran and I'm just not going to kill myself playing the Bucks in December" attitude. He seemed to think that when it really mattered he could still flip a switch and become an elite player again. He was wrong.
Of course, the rap/sports analogies only go so far. Formerly great running backs tear an ACL and are never the same again, even the legends slowly but surely becoming average as their bodies inevitably age and betray their former greatness. But this is rap, unless Luda is struggling with some unknown illness (like Missy) there's no reason any emcee should get worse as they get older. The only real reason a rapper as successful as Luda falls off is that he just stops giving a fuck, and if I was him I might give a fuck either:
RT @shane_eli Luda doesn't care about killing tracks anymore....Fast and the Furious 13 is in pre-production <<< Nailed it.— Refined Hype (@refinedhype) November 27, 2012
Now some have said that "In the A" was Luda's best verse in a minute, but that's exactly the point. We're not sitting around saying, "Nas had the worst verse on that track, but look at the bright side, it was one of Nas' best verses in a minute." Nas doesn't need excuses like that because Nas is still indisputably on top. Ludacris, on the other hand, certainly is no longer a top ten rapper, he may not even be a top 20 rapper.
I'm sure I'll get emails accusing me of being a Ludacris hater for this, but that misses the point. I'm not spending hours writing about why Black Rob fell off because I don't give a fuck about Black Rob. (Great, now I'm gonna get hate mail from Black Rob fans too.) I care that Ludacris isn't delivering the same level of product he once did because he once made some of the dopest hip-hop in history, and if you don' want more of that dopeness, you don't really love hip-hop, or Luda.
See Also: Punch a Kitten Music: Big Boi ft. T.I. & Ludacris “In the A”