Mixtape Review: Ludacris, 1.21 Gigawatts: Back to the First Time

Luda's signature raucous rap is back like it's his last chance.

5star
Posted: 05/28/2013 01:30 PM EDT

(Photo:  Island Def Jam) 

It may have been Memorial Day weekend but it must have felt like Christmas for Ludacris, whose movie Fast and the Furious 6 and mixtape 1.21 Gigawatts: Back to the First Time both opened at No. 1.

The appropriately titled 1.21 Gigawatts: Back to the First Time finds Luda revisiting that hard-hitting ATL bass-happy sound with which he first entered the game, while also unleashing an unrelenting barrage of one-liners for which he's become well known (in every area code).

The "Act a Fool" rapper came out swinging on the intro, boasting,"They say real recognize real and I'm as real as they come, don't ever doubt me/You ain't never seen, read or heard no fake shit about me," with that signature cadence that straddles the line between brash and comedic.

On "Rich & Flexin'" Luda teams up with Waka Flocka, and it's exactly what you'd expect to hear when these two down-South heavyweights get together. Then on the Drugs-produced "Muthaf---a Can U Buy That," he shows off his rapid-fire flow, no missteps.

"Bada Boom" is another high note, showcasing Luda's incomparable ability to Ginsu-chop syllables over this subdued trunk-rattler produced by Wonder. "See, I'm your past, I'm your future, and your present/So watch your f---in' mouth when you speak about a legend. 16 times platinum, 6 number 1 peaks/so I could give a f--k what you sold in your first week," he raps.

Luda even brings out the best in 2 Chainz, who contributed one of the hotter verses of his career on "I Ain't the One" and Meek Mill adds some Philly swag to the Juicy J-produced "Say It to My Face." Meek's fellow Maybach Music rapper/Miami repper Rick Ross also put his stamp on BTTFT with "Do Sumthin Strange."

On the final two tracks, "I'm on Fire," produced by the ubiquitous Mike Will, and "What You Smoking On," featuring Wiz Khalifa, the mix mellows out without losing its momentum.

The best part, though is 12-year-old Luda, who comes back for a "History Lesson" to spit game like Karate Kid's Mr. Miyagi.

Overall, the tape is proof that when it comes to a legend like Ludacris, the only real competition is himself. Despite an all-star list of features, Luda never got outshined lyrically. And, like the Fast and the Furious franchise, this raucous rhyme-slinger only gets better with each go round.

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