New albums: Ludacris; Jesse Malin; Mountain Goats

April 13, 2015 3:55 PM

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Whether as Chris Bridges or as his nom de rap, Ludacris, the emcee-turned-actor has spent the latter half of this decade honing his cinematic skills, notably in the "Fast and Furious" series. This can't hide the fact that, earlier in the 2000s, he was an avatar in pushing Atlanta (the city and the aesthetic) in the Dirty South's rise to hip-hop prominence. With a voice like a hot slide trombone, a patented punctuated flow, and a friendly, lyrical braggadocio, Ludacris has carved out his own brand of pop-hop.

With producer David Banner providing double-time rhythms, title track "Ludaversal" announces the rapper's rude intentions and deep commitment: "They say Luda don't want it no more/ Nah, I'm as hungry as the first day." Sure, there are a lot of "I'm back" bits and typical rap gloats and boasts, but L...

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