A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ludacris is neither for wussies nor for dummies. (Or more nicely put, he's neither for the impressionable/sensitive nor for the unsophisticated listener.) His strongly worded messages are delivered with humor, intelligence, and a social conscience -- as well as full-tilt enthusiasm for "wild" women and the party life. Parents with strict limits about lyrics in popular music should avoid Ludacris, plain and simple. The edited versions of his songs sound ridiculous; the omitted words are plentiful and obvious, and the tracks end up sounding like nonsense. For those willing to evaluate albums on a case-by-case basis, however, there's a lot to be said for making an exception for Ludacris' newest offering, despite a liberal sprinkling of racist, sexist, and explicit language.
What's the story?
On RELEASE THERAPY, Ludacris shows that he knows how to build a song dramatically, with attention paid to instrumental dynamics and background vocals. Even at his most explicit and inappropriate, Ludacris delivers a potent mix of intelligence and humor. It's true he writes lyrics that objectify women, but there are also messages of hope, pride, and social consciousness (\"I said it's time to stop the stealing/time to stop disrespecting our women/It's time to come home and raise our children ... to really mold our communities,\" on \"Freedom of Preach\"). The highlight of Release Therapy is \"Do Your Time,\" a shout-out to incarcerated friends and family members meant to deliver a message of inspiration, hope, and self-esteem.
Is it any good?
The difference between Ludacris and someone like, oh, let's say Chingy, is that Ludacris brings more to the table than a bunch of swear words and a lust for the party life. He's a vivid, funny, and soulful lyricist, as well as an energetic performer. Parents with strict limits on lyrics in popular music should avoid Ludacris, plain and simple. But if you're going to break down and let your kids buy an explicit album every now and then, you could do a lot worse than Ludacris, who writes with substance and artistry.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Ludacris could get his point across as vividly with milder language. Aside from shock value, what does he accomplish artistically by pushing the envelope in this way? Families with relatives in prison will appreciate "Do Your Time," a shout-out to incarcerated friends and relatives.