Three-time Grammy award winning rapper Ludacris hosted a private election party to promote his upcoming album Theater of the Mind last night at Exo, a newly opened hip-hop venue at Locust and Compton.
The rapper introduced his new songs and stumped for Barack Obama to the crowd. He's been a supporter of Obama -- and an outspoken critic of Sen. Hilliary Clinton -- in the past. Remember this line from "Politics (Obama is Here)," released this summer? "Hillary hated on you, so that bitch is irrelevant."
While at 10:30 p.m. (when video footage of Barack Obama was being projected on the wall inside), the smallish two-story club was filled to capacity, the atmosphere inside was subdued relative to the noise of surrounding streets, where people could be heard shouting and honking their horns through the neighborhood.
Red Bull’s promotion of Exo as a premium lounge produced the desired effect last night, attracting the Loft-like multitudes of young, designer-clad men and women, and by the time Ludacris joined guest DJ Charlie Chan upstairs in the booth around midnight, the crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder.
“We’re celebrating this evening -- of course you know why," Ludacris said. "This is an important day in history. A lot of people, you know, didn’t think this was possible, so we’ve got a lot of hope, a lot of confidence in the world right now. I’m definitely glad that everybody went out and voted. No matter how long you stood in those damn lines, understand that what you did was extremely powerful and was worth your while.”
Tracks from Theater of the Mind – the sixth studio album for Ludacris -- sampled last night included: “Call up the Homies,” featuring The Game and Willy North Pole, “Everybody Hates Chris,” featuring Chris Rock, “Last of a Dying Breed,” featuring Lil Wayne, and “I Do It for Hip-Hop,” featuring Nas and Jay-Z. While Ludacris promoted Mind last night as “conceptually theatrical,” the connection between songs and “scenes from movies” wasn’t immediately obvious, making the promotion (generally subterfuges to begin with) seem unnecessarily gimmicky.
Songs from Theater are more lyrically defensive, carefully constructed, and introspective than any of his previous work – not as punchy, but smarter, and alternative hip-hop fans may approve ( “Do the Right Thing” features Common and Spike Lee). Popular hip-hop might too; he’s certainly aligned the stars. While unaffected Ludacris grabs harder, Theater's "I Do It for Hip Hop” is a slow-tempo, intimate retaliation that still pulls you in.
-- Kristy Wendt