Ludacris is on both sides in 'Battle of the Sexes'

Glenn Gamboa
Newsday (MCT)

Even though his new album is called "Battle of the Sexes," that doesn't mean Ludacris is on one side or the other.

"I knew that this was the theme I wanted to go with because there had never been an album quite like that before," he says, calling from a tour stop with the Black Eyed Peas in Lexington, Ky. "I wanted to bring something new."

For Ludacris — who's celebrating the 10th anniversary of his debut, "Back for the First Time," this year — every album has to be different, or it wouldn't merit taking him away from working with his Disturbing Tha Peace crew or from his acting roles as Chris Bridges in "Crash," "RocknRolla" or last year's "Gamer."

"When you've done this many albums, it's a case of me trying to outdo myself — to reinvent it or do certain things that fill a void in the music industry," he says of the album, which drops March 9. "When I say 'Battle of the Sexes,' of course I have different females from the past, present and the future on this album — everyone from Lil' Kim to Eve, Trina, Nicki Minaj and Monica. ... It has records with me talking about women, talking to women and women talking back to me — all on one album. I give different perspectives on different issues."

That means sometimes he's on the guys' side, and sometimes he's standing up for the ladies. "You have 'Hey Ho' with Lil' Kim that's talking about that double standard of when men sleep around they're considered players, but when women do it, they're considered hos," he says. "Lil' Kim is speaking up for women, saying, 'A ho is a ho, no matter what gender you are.'"

"I have a song called 'Can't Live With You, Can't Live Without You,' and anybody who's ever been in a relationship understands that you fuss and fight all the time, so it's a breakup-to-makeup kinda thing that I have with Monica on the song," he continues, talking at the quick pace that marks his rapid-fire flow on his song. "And I have a song called 'Sex Room,' with Trey Songz, that's talking to women. So we're trying to cover every perspective in every regard."

Ludacris' recent collaborations have also showed him covering different musical perspectives. He has a verse on teen pop sensation Justin Bieber's hit "Baby," following his success contributing to Jesse McCartney's remix of "How Do You Sleep." He appears on R&B singer LeToya's hit "Regret" and Raheem DeVaughn's single "Bulletproof," as well as DJ Khaled's star-studded "All I Do Is Win." Throw in his own hits — "My Chick Bad" and the current R&B/hip-hop chart-topper "How Low" — and Ludacris is on six current singles.

He's happiest about "How Low," though. "I knew that was one of those universal songs," he says. "Even in the spirit of 'Battle of the Sexes,' people compete. It's more like a dance song. I'm just happy because, as of today, we just went platinum on digital downloads. That's the lead single, and we've got a No. 1 single in the country, so it's looking good." Not that he really worries about that stuff any more.

"I'm an artist, and I have fans who appreciate what I do, and all I do is be as creative as I possibly can. That is what satisfies me. As long as I know I'm being true to myself and to my fans, I'm good with it. I've had much success, and I'm very competitive. But I'm just happy being on this journey and being able to do what I love to do."

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.