The best list of co-stars so far and there are many tracks already crying out to be hits.
Sophie Bruce 2008
Have you noticed everyone's going theatrical this year? Britney, Take That and now, taking it to the Moulin Rouge max, Ludacris. The huge intro on Theater Of The Mind raises the expectation bar, but can the highest ever selling southern American hip-hop artist really break the mould on this, his sixth album?
The title may have become a cliché, but it matches his aim - he wanted to 'put listeners in an imaginative state and draw them in so they feel part of the music'. He’s certainly done what he came for with the super slick Swizz Beats production on this album – themed like a movie theatre’s list of shows.
There's a queue of 'co-stars' on his 'features' – though the rumoured collaboration with Good Charlotte doesn't appear. But the list of those present reads like a Who's Who of hip hop: Jay-Z, Chris Brown, T-Pain, Lil' Wayne, The Game, T.I., Rick Ross. There are even guest speakers – with Spike Lee, Chris Rock and Floyd Mayweather leading the pack.
There are plenty of stand-out tunes - Undisputed has a real Gnarls Barkley vibe – sped up beat, brass and chipmunk hook. One More Drink has an insanely catchy lyric and outstanding T-Pain hook over a twinkling lullaby melody. And Chris Brown collaboration What Them Girls Like is screaming out to become a hit.
Prince would be proud to lay claim to silky-smooth Jamie Foxx ballad Contagious and Jay-Z creeps up to explode on I Do It For Hip Hop. But the stellar performance comes on Lil' Wayne collaboration Last Of A Dying Breed with its aggressive rap and fantastic sampling of Smokey Robinson's You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.
A large slice of the album is just classic Ludacris – though some would say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And maybe he's gone a tad overboard on the movie theme. But this album has the best list of co-stars so far and there are many tracks already crying out to be hits. As he says it himself, Ludacris definitely still knows how to "party like Britney, Lindsay and Paris put together".