"Red Light District" (Def Jam South)
This ingenious Atlanta rapper is best known for his wit and his exaggerated delivery, but earning respect as a top-tier lyricist seems to be the main goal of his fourth major-label album. On the abbreviated, punch-line-laden "Intro," he fires off one dazzling one-liner after another, and his devilish boasts on the hilarious "Number One Spot" display his distinctive brand of hip-hop humor in song form.
"Nobody light-skinnded repping harder since Ice-T/You disagree, take the Tyson approach and bite me," he raps on the latter, a percolating cut that cleverly samples Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova" and incorporates several Austin Powers references for good measure.
But jokes are only part of Ludacris' appeal. He experiments with his rhyme flow, elongating syllables in an engaging, sing-song style on the slinky "Blueberry Yum Yum," and explores a new sound (for him, at least) on the funky, West Coast-inspired "Spur of the Moment," which also features clever rhymes from Compton's DJ Quik.