Is there any rapper who needs the genre’s recent, rampant vocal-manipulation trend less than Ludacris? Chris Bridges has long been drunk on his own gleefully elastic patois, one of rap’s most distinctive and ever-pleasurable voices.
On “Battle of the Sexes,” his latest, he directs these pleasures toward the Ladies through fizzy pillow talk and respectfully tawdry club fodder. Luda’s always been a lover, not a fighter, and a dip in this particular lyrical Jacuzzi is a good fit.
The spooky “My Chick Bad” might be the first rap song with kind words for Tiger Woods’ club-wielding wife Elin Nordegren, with a cameo from the ever-delightful Nicki Minaj. “Hey Ho” is a go-girl ode to cheating girlfriends (well, presumably other people’s cheating girlfriends) getting their needs met elsewhere, and “Sex Room” and “Feelin’ So Sexy” are fantasias of loverman absurdity.
Some of the production work feels slapdash, as in the sopping-synth “I Know You Got a Man,” and aside from the undeniable banger “How Low,” it’s hard to hear the next obvious hit on “Battle.” But the album is another welcome occasion to listen to Luda enjoying the real love of his life — the sound of his own voice.
— August Brown