Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ludacris -- "What's Your Fantasy?" (2000)

In the sun or up in the shade
On the top of my Escalade
Maybe your girl and my friend can trade

Nearly all of the rappers we've discussed in previous "Hip Hop 101" lectures have hailed from either New York City or Los Angeles.  (Detroit's Eminem is a significant exception to that rule.) 

But in the late 1980s, rappers from the American South began to challenge the domination of East Coast and West Coast artists.  Houston, Miami, New Orleans, and especially Atlanta have produced some great hip-hop music -- in fact, the New York Times proclaimed Atlanta to be "hip-hop's center of gravity" in 2009.

Ludacris (who was born Christopher Brian Bridges) wasn't the first great Atlanta rapper, but he is one of the most distinctive and successful "Dirty South" rappers.  Ludacris can carry the ball as a lead artist, and is probably second only to Nicki Minaj in his ability to absolutely steal a single when he is a featured singer on a track where another performer takes the lead.

Here's a good example.  Enrique Iglesias does a very good job as the lead artist on "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)," which was a top-five hit in 2010.  But listen at 2:30 when Ludacris jumps in for his verse -- he grabs the song in a chokehold:

Ludacris's first studio album -- Back for the First Time -- was released in 2000, when Ludacris was 22.  "What's Your Fantasy" was the first single released from that album.

The song is essentially a laundry list of sexual fantasy scenarios.  Ludacris suggests doing it on the 50-yard-line of the Georgia Dome, in the DJ's booth at a club, on a black-sand beach, in a public restroom, in a public library ("But you can't be too loud!"), in the back row at the movie, in the White House, on top of his Escalade, or -- he likes this one the best, I think -- on stage at the Ludacris concert.

I dare you to try to sing along with the chorus.  Ludacris puts the pedal to the metal in terms of tempo, and repeats certain words and syllables in a stuttery rhythm that is absolutely unpredictable and almost inimitable.  Even with the help of printed lyrics, it's tough to duplicate his astonishing vocal agility:

I wanna li-li-li-lick you 
From your head to your toes
And I wanna move from the bed 
Down to the, down to the, to the floor
Then I wanna (ahh! ahh!) 
You make it so good I don't wanna leave
But I gotta kn-kn-kn-know, 
What-what's your fan-ta-ta-sy?

As usual, Ludacris sounds like he is having the time of his life on this track.  The guy clearly loves his work, and his enjoyment is infectious.  His lyrics are as dirty as anyone's, but he never sounds creepy or threatening.

Here's "What's Your Fantasy":

Here's a remix of the song featuring three female rappers -- Trina, Shawnna, and Foxy Brown -- on the verses in place of Ludacris.  The lyrics of the remix are much dirtier than the lyrics of the original version, and the fact that the performers are women makes the lyrics seem even filthier.  (Watch out for the last verse in particular -- Foxy Brown needs her mouth washed out with soap!)

Click here to buy "What's Your Fantasy" from Amazon:

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