Jonah Bromwich wrote this while listening to only Huey Lewis and the News.
I’m tired of this recent plague of rappers aging gracefully. It’s ridiculous. What is Phonte doing making a thoughtful, reflective record like Charity Starts at Home? Why are The Roots making concept albums? What is going on? Where’s my ignorance? Where’s my old rapper showing these younger dudes how to make dumb, fun music to get sprung to?
Oh that’s right. Ludacris is still here, and he’s done trying force his image to fit his age. Square peg, round hole. What the hell is a Release Therapy? This man is built on punchlines, energy and stupidity. Gloriously fun stupidity. And when the title of Chris Bridge’s newest mixtape is a reference to his first album, which was chock full of the material I’m describing, you know that I’m going to be checking for it.
Glad I did. This is some vintage ignorance right here. Big beats produced by the likes of Drumma Boy, Big K.R.I.T., and Luda’s fellow luminary in tomfoolery, Juicy J. Ridiculous come-ons and absurd boasts. And, to top it all off, two diss tracks. Two! In an era where all beef is cooked on twitter, this is some first-class immaturity.
Let’s start with one of those diss tracks, as they’re probably the mixtape highlights. The “History Lesson” interlude is like a rap version of The Daily Show, digging up examples of the hashtag rap that Drake claims to have coined that were recorded before Drake was around. We hear clips of Luda using the flow in 2008, Kanye using it in 2007, Cam’ron in 2003, Method Man in 1998, Biggie in 1997, Q-Tip in 1991, and then, just to drive the point home, we hear Luda himself once again, freestyling when he was 12, which was about twenty years ago.
This epic derailment of Drake’s claim is followed by an honest-to-God diss track. As Doc pointed out, it’s very fun to make up new ways to call Aubrey soft. But it’s immensely satisfying to hear him get murked on wax, as Luda explains, “nothing’s been new since Big Daddy Kane, flows’ll get recycled, passed around to different names but what’s the same, every verse I spit is insane, got more styles than every rapper in the game.” He also calls Drake a bunch of names and points to his own longevity and ability to make hits since Aubrey was better known as Wheelchair Jimmy.
Elsewhere, Luda cuts loose, warning haters on “I Ain’t the One” and trading golddigger stories with Rick Ross on “Do Sumthin Strange.” He also shows his versatility, matching the energy and lyricism of young guns Meek Mill and Big K.R.I.T. on “Say It To My Face” and “I’m on Fire.” Occasionally, Luda’s company helps to shed some light on just how good he is at this. Waka Flocka Flame and Gucci Mane are arguably his progeny; the inheritors of the aggressive, shallow fun style. And yet, lyrically, Luda is head and shoulders above them, able to flow with a ferocity that’s occasionally obscured by his subject-free rambles.
In a year littered with serious, excellent projects from a variety of rappers both new and old, 1.21 Gigawatts: Back to the First Time isn’t the best we’ve heard in a while. But if you get tired of grand statements, concept records and serious music, this mixtape is the perfect antidote, a diverting listen that will serve as the perfect soundtrack for the most ignorant forty five minutes of your day.
ZIP: Ludacris-1.21 Gigawatts: Back to the First Time (Left-Click)