BY Samantha O’ConnorPublished Mar 31, 2015

Although he's responsible for penning some of the most prevalent rap hits of the 2000s, Ludacris' recent efforts to mimic his previous triumphs haven't quite connected since the days of "Stand Up" and "Act A Fool." Focused on crossover business ventures and Hollywood instead, Chris Bridges has continued to cash in. Returning with an album five years after its predecessor however, the Atlanta-based rapper is eager to regain his former place on the charts with the postponed Ludaversal, which highlights the evolution of the veteran artist, who's still around 15 years later.

With production from Just Blaze, Mike Will Made It, David Guetta and Da Internz on the 14-track offering, Luda has ample to play with, juggling the LP's sonic focus throughout while welcoming guests like Big K.R.I.T, Miguel and Usher. When not trying to format a radio-friendly opus, the Dirty South rapper is at his most candid and familiar, despite trading in the strip club for family life. This is grown man Bridges, and when he's true to his mature self, he ultimately thrives.

Dealing with his issues with fame on "Grass Is Always Greener," Luda identifies the opportunistic and envious people that surround him, before schooling rap's newcomers and drawing on his experience for the confident "Call Ya Bluff." Slowing the pace, the album takes a turn with the support of his cousin/singer Monica, who assists the rapper with textured R&B vocals on "Ocean Skies," as Ludacris reflects on his father's fatal struggle with alcohol addiction.

Unfortunately, the pressure to bring back Old Luda breaks on skippable filler like the over-produced "Get Lit" and "Lyrical Healing," on which he makes an attempt at mocking the rap game with tired and outdated jabs. Facebook similes and references should remain in 2010, with Bridges' Battle Of The Sexes.

"They saying Luda don't want it no more, but I'm as hungry as the first day," he asserts on the "Ludaversal Intro." Ludacris has said himself many times in his lyrics and in the promotional banter leading up to his eighth major label release that he is hungry, but there's a thin line between owning up to the voracious hunger needed to reach a new level of fulfillment and being trapped by the desperation to regain a title that is no longer his. Ludaversal finds itself somewhere in between.
(Def Jam)

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