One of the most outspoken artists in the rap industry, Ludacris has always made it known through his songs just what he thinks. With songs like “What’s Your Fantasy?” and “Ho” from his Def Jam debut album Back for the First Time, Ludacris showed he was not on the scene to sing about loving his mother. With the release of Chicken-N-Beer, Ludacris searches for a formula that works but instead puts out an album which feels imbalanced and awkward.
With the album’s first song, “Southern Fried Intro,” Ludacris shows a rapping ability reminiscent of Busta Rhymes on “Gimme Some More.” This speedy and dexterous delivery showcases Ludacris’ impressive ability to spit lyrics while following an impossible beat. The album’s recurring flaw, though, emerges in the next track, the disappointingly slow and repetitive “Blow It Out,” which dives from mediocre Bill O’Reilly cuts to an uninspiring chorus.
Such a contrast makes the listener wonder how such a large disparity in talent display can be possible between the first two songs, but it continues throughout the disc creating a pattern of hit and miss. Featured guest Snoop Dogg raps on “Hoes in My Room” but is completely wasted on a mediocre song that sounds more like a drunken sing-along than something he should have ever attached him name to.
Lead single “Stand Up” showcases Ludacris’ ability to create a chorus that doesn’t nag, much like his earlier “Southern Hospitality.” The problem is that a track like this, which has a unique sound and is extremely catchy, gets followed up by skits too annoying to even attempt to suffer through. During the album’s skits, Ludacris loses any momentum built in songs such as “Hip Hop Quotables,” a freestyle track that proves he’s capable of making jokes without any scripts or bad actors. A staple of each of his records, Ludacris’ skits have only gotten worse with time and need to be replaced with exhibitions of talent.
Listened straight through, Chicken-N-Beer is constantly changing direction. At times Ludacris showcases his natural ability on the mic, but the lame skits weigh the album down so much that in order to review the songs, the skits must be entirely ignored. That done, the album is your average hit-or-miss disc that could have been a lot of better, but also a lot worse.
Rating: 2 stars