Fair points all, but very little music from the early 2000’s, including but not limited to Ludacris’, has aged well. One glaring reason: back then, the record industry had too much sway in the creative process.

So, you had artists like Ludacris. Guys from the South who had to please gatekeepers in New York, who had to please gatekeepers at radio and television and retail, who had to please everyone in America. It made for some weird music.

It was weird because you had more regional influences— double-time beats, 808’s and slang — but still, this rather oldschool, formulaic way of attaining success. Rappers would make records “for the clubs,” “for the radio,” and “for the ladies” — a sequence of A, B and C singles that could help sell albums, make them stars.

It was a formidable recipe, and Ludacris, like most commercial artists, engaged with it. Not a bad thing per se. He worked in radio before he was a rapper. So he knew how to make records that were different enough to stand out, yet formulaic enough to blend in.

Ludacris knew how to play the game.

With that, I don’t think Ludacris ever set out to make timeless music. Not at that stage of his career. On later records, ones people didn’t check for as much, he was more inclined to let himself go, be the rapper’s rapper. By then though, the culture had moved on — nobody really cared.

It’s hard to blame Ludacris for his music not aging well, because when it came out, it sold. He was and still is a star. But I don’t think Ludacris was really being himself until 2005. That’s when he made Georgia, and seemed to sink into who he was, where he came from.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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