A superstar of the early 2000’s whose name everyone remembers, Ludacris’ music itself has gotten progressively more underrated as time goes on. He managed to straddle the classic, country sensibility of artists like Outkast, while dabbling in harder Three 6 styles and early trap, all with loads of charisma and energy. His 2001 album Word of Mouf is a somewhat forgotten classic in many circles and is just packed with hits and hilarious skits, making for a fun listen even all these years later.
The album opens with “Coming 2 America”; With a proclamation that the royal penis is clean (He kept it horny to a comedic degree), Luda kicked things off with a high energy, double time flow over an epic, hard hitting beat. The single “Rollout (My Business)” is a slower cut with some really funny bars as Luda speaks on people being in his business as a celebrity. This song is a great example of how he subtly changes his flow mid verse only to return back, which adds to his quirky energy and shows some serious technical ability.
I got people scared as fuck like when condoms break
Or how your heart deals with eating eighty pounds of steak
So put your belly on a plate and watch your weight
You frosted like a flake and Ludacris feels grrrr-eat!
Ludacris – Rollout (My Business)
Luda gets more in his Memphis club bag on “Go 2 Sleep”, with an Arabian sounding sample and obligatory features from Three 6 Mafia. The strong opening run continues with “Cry Babies”, where he makes some simply ridiculous, comedic bars and inflections over a heavily looped beat. The shouted “Oh nooooo” hook somehow manages to be an ear worm.
Word of Mouf‘s greatest hits come in the middle of the album and they hold up as fun period pieces to this day. “Area Codes” is a clever concept and features an essential hook from the man himself, Nate Dogg. The Jazze Pha beat manages to bridge that west coast funk with Luda’s dirty south so nicely. “Growing Pains” is a more introspective cut with an orchestral line so beautiful it’s almost cliche.
Ludacris – Saturday (Oooh! Ooooh!) ft. Sleepy Brown
Then there’s the classic record everyone knows him for at this point: “Move Bitch”. Matching the signature, over the top energy of No Limit’s Mystikal, Luda gets aggressive in the club over a surprisingly complex beat. This one will just always be an essential for any deep party. Yet another big hit here is “Saturday (Ooh! Ooh!) with Sleepy Brown. The heavily chopped beat meshes perfectly with that chipmunk hook and Luda’s off the wall delivery.
The album rounds out with tracks like “Word of Mouf Freestyle”, where Luda puts some more emphasis on his emceeing over a minimal beat, the Spanish motif on “Freaky Thangs” with Twista, and the 1-2 punch of “Block Lockdown / Welcome to Atlanta”; From another larger than life banger, to a poppier cut headed by Jermaine Dupri. Word of Mouf simply needs to be brought up more these days as a classic of both the south, and mainstream hiphop in general. Ludacris’ versatility, energy and charisma are loveable to this day.