Ludacris

Word of Mouf

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Ludacris' second album for Def Jam, Word of Mouf, is a superstar affair that aims for mass appeal with a broad array of different styles. Nearly every track features some sort of collaborator, either hitmaking producers like Timbaland and Organized Noize, big-name rappers like Mystikal and Twista, hook-singing crooners like Nate Dogg and Jagged Edge, or fellow Disturbing tha Peace group members I-20, Shawnna, Lil' Fate, and Tity Boi -- and sometimes a combinations of these various ingredients. The resulting album is surely impressive, propelled by lively production, colorful guests, and an omnipresent touch of humor. More hilarious than before, Ludacris lightens his lyrical style here, leaving behind much of thuggishness that had characterized his previous album, Back for the First Time, in favor of witty puns and sly innuendoes. A particularly humorous highlight is the previously released (on the Rush Hour 2 soundtrack) single "Area Codes," a tongue-twisting, good-spirited Jazze Pha production. Less humorous though likewise standout is the lead single, "Rollout (My Business)," a rallying Timbaland production with a simple yet inescapable hook. Other highlights include the Organized Noize-produced booty-shaker "Saturday (Oooh Oooh!)," the Jagged Edge-sung "Freaky Thangs," and the Beats by the Pound-esque posse track "Move Bitch." There's also a hidden bonus track here that's likewise an explosive collaboration, the Jermaine Dupri-led "Welcome to Atlanta." There are a lot of highlights here; however, amid all of these various team-ups you do lose a little bit of the sincere, personal edge that had characterized much of Ludacris' debut. Even so, it's overall a worthy exchange, since there's something here on Word of Mouf for everyone, signaling Ludacris' leap from the Dirty South underground to the pop-rap mass market.

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