Ranking the Best Ludacris Albums

Is Ludacris the most unappreciated artist of his era?

I know it seems ridiculous to call a man with a half-dozen No. 1 albums, 35 singles in the top 100 and some of the biggest records of the 2000s unappreciated but the point still stands.

During his height, Ludacris was often written off as a mere “party rapper,” which totally undersells his lyrical prowess. And due to his relative absence from the hip-hop scene during the past decade, younger fans with little exposure to his music are quick to unfairly paint him as irrelevant.

Sigh, they should have never given y’all hip-hop.

Luda certainly has had his ups and downs creatively but for nearly 10 years, he was THE go-to artist of the 2000s. Y’all know how we do – let’s look back at the albums that built his legacy. We’re ranking Luda’s entire discography from bottom to top, judging the LPs based on quality, consistency and impact on the industry.

And for you Disturbing the Peace purists out there, we won’t be ranking Luda’s independent debut Incognegro separately, since it was folded into the Back for the First Time album.

battle of the sexes

8. Battle of the Sexes (2010)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Under the circumstances, it’s a miracle this album even saw the light of day. This was originally set to be a joint collaboration with his artist Shawnna, who bolted from the label before the album’s completion. That led to Luda scrambling to fill the gaps with other female artists to keep the “battle of the sexes” theme intact. Despite it clearly being held together by duct tape and chewing gum, it still produced a huge single (the inescapable “How Low”) and several fun collabos.

Forgotten favorites: “B.O.T.S. Radio,” “Hey Ho,” “Feelin’ So Sexy”

ludaversal

7. Ludaversal (2015)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Luda’s most recent album came and went like a deadbeat dad.  That doesn’t speak to the quality of the album though – it’s a mostly solid collection that’s just missing the spark of Luda’s more high-profile releases.

Forgotten favorites: “Beast Mode,” “Come and See Me,” “Ludaversal”

release therapy

6. Release Therapy (2006)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Remember that time Ludacris tried to get all deep on us? Release Therapy was a big change of pace for hip-hop’s preeminent party-starter, focusing on more serious themes instead of the goofy immaturity that made him a star. The results were understandably mixed – I had no problem with Luda changing the pacing of his flow  and delivering more thoughtful themes in theory but his attempts at conscious rap were very hit and miss. Not bad but pretty uneven.

Forgotten favorites: “Grew Up a Screw Up,” “Girls Gone Wild,” “Tell It Like It Is”

the red light district

5. The Red Light District (2004)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: I know, I know, that album cover ALONE is enough to make you roll your eyes but y’all gotta feel me on this one – this is one of the biggest guilty pleasure albums of the 2000s. Loaded with radio hits and outlandish bars, this album is vintage Luda – and probably the last time we’d see Luda’s wild side on full display.

Forgotten favorites: “Child of the Night,” “Put Your Money,” “Who Not Me”

chicken n beer

4. Chicken-n-Beer (2003)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Luda was still riding a huge wave of popularity by 2003, so there was no need to fix a style that wasn’t broken. Ludacris doubled down on all his usual themes here – the adult humor, the obsession with strip clubs and those incredibly addictive rhyme schemes – to create and album that was as skilled as it was fun.

Forgotten favorites: “P-Poppin,” “Diamond in the Back,” “We Got”

theater of the mind

3. Theater of the Mind (2008)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Two years prior to this album was Ludacris’ first attempt at more mature content (if you couldn’t tell by Release Therapy’s sappy neo-soul album cover). That attempt didn’t quite work – but this one did. Theater of the Mind wasn’t embraced at the time because, like Release Therapy, it didn’t sound like the Luda of old. But unlike its fake-deep predecessor, it was a more effective evolution, focusing more on Luda’s vastly underrated rhyming skill than the usual humor and outlandishness. Luda holds his own among a guest list of A-list rap titans, making this by far his most underrated release.

Forgotten favorites: “Undisputed,” “Last of a Dying Breed,” “I Do It For Hip-Hop”

back for the first time

2. Back for the First Time (2000)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: The game changer. Combining his head-turning independent release Incognegro with a handful of new tracks from high-profile producers like The Neptunes and Timbaland, Back of the First Time was Luda’s introduction into the mainstream, and he took the world by storm. Casual fans were captivated by his wit, hip-hop heads were captured by his lyricism. It was a star-making combo that launched Ludacris to the top of the charts.

Forgotten favorites: “What’s Your Fantasy Remix,” “Ho,” “Phat Rabbit”

Ludacris_Word_Of_Mouf-25255BFront-25255D-25255Bwww.FreeCovers.net-25255D

1. Word of Mouf (2001)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: The race for the top spot was extremely close, with this album and Back for the First Time being on nearly equal footing. But I went with Luda’s 2001 release as his greatest for one reason – his ability to effectively switch styles. From the club shaking “Move” to the laid back “Area Codes,” the radio-friendly “Rollout” and the thoughtfully nostalgic “Growing Pains,” Luda was much more than the jester he was often painted to be. He’s a diversely talented artist, one who deserved to be at the top of his class.

Forgotten favorites: “Block Lockdown,” “Freaky Thangs,” “Go 2 Sleep”

What are your favorite Luda albums and tracks? Tell us about them below.

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2 Comments

  1. No argument here. I think you nailed it.

  2. Wow, I never thought we’d live in a world where Luda would be anyone’s underrated, but here we are.

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