Word of Mouf
When discussing rap’s roots, it’s customary to invoke names like Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash. Yet listening to Ludacris’ new album, Word of Mouf, other influences spring to mind — notably, raunchy African-American comedians like Redd Foxx and Rudy Ray Moore, men whose trade it was to make sex sound both filthy and hilarious. With his fashionably foul worldview, Ludacris could indeed be Foxx’s bastard son, and ”Word” often seems like nothing so much as an extended Dolemite routine set to hip-hop beats (courtesy of hot producers like Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, Organized Noize, and others). The first words on the album are ”The royal penis is clean, your highness” — a line, incidentally, from Eddie Murphy’s ”Coming to America” — and, as titles like ”Howhere” and ”Move Bitch” attest, things don’t get any more politically correct than that. There’s some marvelously inventive sexual/sexist wordplay here (most of which, sadly, cannot be reprinted in a family magazine); if you’re inured to hip-hop’s relentless conflation of sex and thuggery, you’ll likely view lines like ”d— to mouth resuscitation” as good, dirty fun. If you’re not — well, buying this album would simply be ludicrous.