Everyone might still be preoccupied with Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, but Luda just dropped one of the hottest rap albums of the year. It might not be the most inventive or original records to come out recently, but if there’s anything impressive and noteworthy about Ludaversal, it’s that Ludacris is, and has always been, a textbook for southern double-time flow. As he says on the record’s single “Beast Mode,” “My name still engrained and these books will be the outcome/And this one verse is harder than a lot of niggas’ albums.”

And it’s true for rap music that has surfaced so far this year (Kendrick excluded): Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, Big Sean, Cannibal Ox, Drake, Wale, not a lot of it has really excited or impressed me, but Ludaversal is enticing right off the bat. He enters on the Intro, produced by David Banner, and his textbook flow is one of the most in-the-pocket raps I’ve heard in a long time. And for the next 18-tracks, Luda stays there, like a perfectly quantized metronome. And it’s not all braggadocio, his ties to Fast & Furious have no effect on the record, it’s about Ludacris, not his endeavors. While some have joked and panned him, like Kevin Hart at the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Beiber, saying that he was, “one of the most successful rappers of 2001,” or that he’s too much of a rap traditionalist, 5-years since his last release, Ludaversal isn’t anything if not a well deserved slap back.

Listen via Apple Music and Spotify.