Luda is back at it again; breaking down the doors with his sixth solo LP (that's if you're counting 2000's Incognegro), and showing no signs of stopping. The problem is, rarely does it bring anything we haven't heard from Christopher Bridges to the table. Sure, Ludacris has made some damn catchy songs over his six-year album span, I can still remember having 'Area Codes' on repeat in late 2001, or more recently, the infectious Timbo-laced 'The Potion' from The Red Light District. However, I'm gonna say it straight from the get-go, Release Therapy bored the hell out of me.
At least he got the introduction right. Imposing and majestic horns sound the beginning of Release Therapy on 'Warning (Intro)'. Here, Luda is at his best, his distinctive arrogant swagger and in your face humor are abundantly prevalent, delivered with ounces of passion and built-up angst towards life's struggles and the music industry:
So here's a temporary fix for ya permanent flaws/
This album helps you to release cos life is irking us all/
Enough to make you wanna break shit/
No longer will I take shit/
From any of these clowns cos I'm tired of this fake shit
Things are in good shape by the albums second track, the Biggie-sampled 'Grew Up A Screw-Up' featuring Young Jeezy, and more importantly, prolongs the energy that the album began with. Luda documents his birth in a way only he can do with descriptive and cleverly southern-influenced lines like
Ever since I was an embryo waiting to shape up and ship out/
Something in my brain said 'wake up and kick-out'/ Roberta and Wayne stayed up and flipped-out/
Cos when I came I was draped up and dripped-out
Yeah, so far, Release Therapy is just that, an album in which displays Ludacris is pissed with the world, and he's not gonna stand for it. The Pharrell produced 'Money-Maker' however, kills the vibe completely. Sure, I can respect that an artist like Ludacris, known for his huge club hits like 'Southern Hospitality' and 'Wake Up', has an obligation to please the masses with a banging lead single, but for the mood that Release Therapy is obviously trying to portray, 'Money-Maker' lacks conviction and suffers from tired and bland subject matter. Much the same can be said for 'Girls Gone Wild' a synth-heavy track that initially impresses, but falls to the same pitfalls.
At this point I kinda sat in confusion. You have two energy-packed openers full of enthusiasm, followed by two lackluster joints delving deep into how girls 'shake their money-maker'. Thankfully, Ludacris keeps my interest for a little longer. 'Satisfaction' featuring latest DTP signees Field Mob, packs enough punch to blow-out any speaker it plays on, while 'Mouths to Feed' does a reasonably good job of a struggle-against-adversity type joint even if the beat fails to convey the emotion required. From the middle onwards however, it gets rather messy. 'End of the Night' and 'Woozy' featuring everyone's favourite sexually-over-the-top hook man R. Kelly are the kind of tracks I would feel embarrassed if they came on in the car via my iPod's shuffle feature. 'Do Your Time' featuring a star studded previously-incarcerated line-up of Beanie Sigel, Pimp C and C-Murder picks up the pace towards the end, but definitely needs a darker beat to match the subject matter. And again, listeners get a 'reasonably good' version of a record-companies-are-shady track courtesy of 'Tell It Like It Is'.
That perhaps is the problem. For a record that aims to give room for Luda to vent, he doesn't do it often enough, or well enough. The album ends quite unspectacularly, with the exception of 'War With God', a rather soulful number displaying Luda's famous braggadocio, and 'Freedom of Preach' a church-inspired album closer which speaks on issues ranging from his Oprah beef to his relationship with his fans in a surprisingly mature and engaging manner.
Release Therapy suffers from a few things: there's not nearly enough release here to hold the listener for the full hour; the beats do a uninspiring job of enforcing the tracks that actually succeed when Luda spills his guts, and downright shitty tracks break-up the album at times when its feels like its getting on a roll. A frustrating album which ranks at the lower-end of his often appealing releases.