BRACKET I — 1. “Gossip Folks” by Missy Elliott v. “Creepin’ (Solo)” by Chamillionare
Rob Fee: “Gossip Folks” all day every day.
Ella Ceron: “Gossip Folks” is peak Missy, Peak Luda, peak everything. “Creepin’ (Solo)” is a nice novelty song when you want to impress your friends with your varied rap knowledge, but I mean. Play “Gossip Folks” at a party and see if people don’t scream “YAAASSSSSSSS!” on impact.
Verdict: “Gossip Folks” by Missy Elliott
2. “Holidae In” by Chingy v. “Pretty Girl” by Jarvis
RF: This one is really close. I would lean towards “Holidae In” just because it also features Chingy, but “Pretty Girl” is fantastic. I’m going to call it a tie and let Ella cast the deciding vote.
EC: Products Ludacris mentions in “Pretty Girl:” Onions, and the big ol’ bootys that make him want to cry; licorice; Tickle Me Elmo (!?!); Snickers candy bars; Downey softener. And “Holidae In” is memorable mainly for Snoop’s chorus more than it is Luda’s soliloquy about nipples and mammaries and everything else breast-related. Related query: can we bring back Chingy’s career? 8th grade me would really appreciate that.
Verdict: (the vastly underrated) “Pretty Girl” by Jarvis
3. “All I Do Is Win” by DJ. Khaled v. “Oh” by Ciara
RF: Ludacris has never been defeated and it won’t start now. It’s definitely “All I Do Is Win.”
EC: Look, I really do love me some Ciara (and somewhere in my torrid teenage years, there are many a moment in which I tried to replicate the hip rolls she was so pro at in her videos). It’s really not her fault that she and Beyonce started their solo careers at about the same time — but this isn’t about C. Luda’s verse is kind of lackluster here, the muzak of guest verses if we’re being honest. (Plus, I mean, “All I Do Is A Win” is kiiiind of having its moment for me, thanks to Emma Stone’s delightful lip sync. Like, you didn’t think Ludacris could get better, and then Emma Stone went HAM, and, well. Here we are.)
Verdict: “All I Do Is Win” by DJ. Khaled
4. “Lovers and Friends” by Lil Jon & The Eastside Boys v. “Chopped N Skrewed” by T. Pain
RF: This was the least exciting matchup for me. I’m not crazy about either song, but if I had to pick one I would say “Lovers and Friends. It’s nothing against Luda, he’s definitely the high point of each track.
EC: Am I the only person in the world who genuinely enjoys T. Pain? (I’m beginning to fear yes.) He’s like if a computer decided to start reciting romantic poetry, and I’m basically in a relationship with my phone, so I can understand that. Both of these songs are basically souped-up seduction songs, and while Luda’s “Lovers and Friends” verse is smoother and suaver, the auto-tune happy antics in “Chopped N Skrewed” are kind of playful? I don’t know, some days you want to make Nicholas Sparks-esque love, sometimes you want to laugh in the middle because body parts made funny noises. It’s all about what you’re in the mood for.
Verdict: “Lovers and Friends” if only for the line about Rudy Huuuuxtable
BRACKET II — 1. “Dirt Road Anthem (Remix)” by Jason Aldean v. “How Do You Sleep?” by Jesse McCartney
RF: I was shocked to discover that I didn’t mind a song featuring Ludacris and Jason Aldean, but there’s no way it’s going to knock “How Do You Sleep” off. 24/7 *slowed down deep voice* 365.
EC: I have a really, really soft spot for rap/country hybrid songs (so by this, I mean Nelly’s entire discography.) And rappers on country artist remixes is another favorite (again, see Nelly’s propensity to roll windows down and cruise.) But I miss Jesse McCartney’s sputtered-out heartthrob career, and as such, nostalgia wins out for me. Also, the fact that Luda says, “you’ll never find another like moi” means that he is a worldly individual, and I can appreciate that.
Verdict: “How Do You Sleep?” by Jesse McCartney
2. “Baby” by Justin Bieber v. “Hands In The Air” by Miley Cyrus
RF: The problem with “Baby” is that it’s before Bieber adopted this rule breaking attitude, so it comes off like Ludacris on a Kidz Bop track. I guess that means I have to go with Miley.
EC: I deeply hope Luda dropped this verse as a favor to Usher, Justin’s mentor, but as this was Baby Bieber’s first single, we had no way of knowing what kind of monster would develop from that as-yet-undropped voice. Still though, I refuse to let a Bieber single win this or any round. I say Miley wins by default.
Verdict: “Hands In The Air” by Miley Cyrus
3. “Breathe In Breathe Out” by Kanye West v. “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley (Remix)” by Lloyd Banks
RF: As much as Ella loves Kanye, there’s no way she can pick his track over “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley.” It’s one of the best Luda verses he’s ever done. Sorry ‘Ye.
EC: Rob’s right. “Breathe In, Breathe Out” relegates Ludacris to the freaking chorus section and he is no hook man. I love you, Kanye, but really?! REALLY?! Also, I consider it a freaking crime that Spotify doesn’t have this remix in its library, but if you’ve never heard it, you really, really need to. It is Luda at his best.
Verdict: “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley (Remix)” by Lloyd Banks
4. “Yeah!” by Usher v. “Glamorous” by Fergie
RF: I’m sure you also never want to hear “Yeah!” again because it’s played at every club, wedding, birthday party, and zoo trip for the last decade, but his verse is so good. You have to give it up to Ush. Can we start calling him Ush?
EC: Pros of “Glamorous” include: Ludacris manages to include Robin Leach in a line and have it make sense; that weird voice-drop autotune thing is clever. (But you also hear this song at every club, wedding, and birthday party, #basic edition.) Pros of “Yeah!” include: it was basically the anthem of my high school dance career. Also, I mean. This is the song in which Luda immortalized the pronunciation “Urshurr.”
Verdict: Ush. Ursher. Whatever we’re calling him, he wins.
BRACKET I — 1. “Gossip Folks” vs. “Pretty Girl”
RF: I have to go with “Gossip Folks” here. This feels like it could have been a championship matchup, but, alas, here we are and a winner must be crowned!
EC: Question: can you still recite the line about 10 and a half gators? Did you want to buy 10 and a half gators when this song came out? I mean, I love an underdog all the time, but sometimes hit songs are hit songs for a reason — they’re awesome. “Gossip Folks” is not overrated; it’s rated juuust right.
Verdict “Gossip Folks” is okizzay, it’s all rizz-ight
2. “All I Do Is Win” vs. Lovers and Friends”
RF: He never went nowhere, but they’re sayin’ Luda’s back. “All I Do Is Win.” That’s the winner.
EC: I mean, when I first made this playlist, I shared it with a friend of mine and “Lovers and Friends” was the first “ohmigodIforgotaboutthatsong!”-song that jumped out to her. Still, the lyrics and subject matter mean it’s not exactly a song you can listen to in public (even the soulful lyrical stylings of one Usher do not negate the fact that this is, in fact, a song about butt sex) so I defer to Rob’s much more family-friendly choice.
Verdict: “All I Do Is Win” keeps on winning
BRACKET II – 1. “How Do You Sleep?” vs. “Hands In The Air”
RF: I feel like Ella is going to disagree with me on this one, but I have to follow my heart and go with “How Do You Sleep?” I may lose some street cred for it, but I’ll be able to sleep peacefully tonight knowing I didn’t give in to peer pressure. Are we still talking about music?
EC: The thing that’s great about Ludacris is that he can basically save any song and turn it from “eh” to “amazing.” Bangerz, regardless of how you feel about one Miss Cyrus, is a solid album but this song without Luda’s guest verse would be pretty lackluster. I actually want to give this to Bangerz because it profiles exactly how great a guest artist Chris Bridges has made himself out to be.
Verdict: “Hands In the Air”
2.“Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley (Remix)” vs. “Yeah!”
RF: Yikes. This is a really tough matchup but I’m leaning towards B,B, or B. I could argue points for each side, but “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley” is the winner.
EC: I mean, if you really wanted to just have a hardcore Ludacris-jam session, you could listen to “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley”, hear Luda’s verse, and then go on your merry way. But the song is an instant shoulder shimmy-er, and it’s got an edge over the played-out “Yeah!” Sorry, Ush.
Verdict: “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley (Remix)”
BRACKET I – “Gossip Folks” vs. “All I Do Is Win”
RF: I’m #teamALLIDOISWIN at this point. Now that Jesse McCartney is gone, this is the horse I’m riding. Not literally.
EC: Oh my God, this is my Sophie’s Choice, and I just had to listen to each song 3 times to try to find a winner. But to say “All I Do Is Win” doesn’t win would be stubborn at best, pointedly ornery at worst, and so it’s never been defeated and it won’t stop now. (Subliminal messages works wonders, kids.)
Verdict: “All I Do Is Win”
BRACKET II — “Hands In The Air” v. “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley (Remix)”
RF: I gotta go with “Hands In The Air,” but this one is reallllllly close. It’s like the women on Sister Wives close, to be honest.
EC: Whoa. Hold up. Let us take a moment to throw the appropriate side-eye to Rob for picking the Miley song over the more obscure (and therefore arguably cooler) song. But he’s already proven that he doesn’t care what you think about his street cred, and I respect that. Also, I know I already said this, but if a single verse can save an entire 3 minute, 22 second song, that’s some pretty strong MC skills. “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley” could and does hold its own without Ludacris, and so he doesn’t exactly elevate the remix to being better than the original.
Verdict: “Hands In The Air”
FINAL ROUND: “All I Do Is Win” v. “Hands In The Air”
RF: …………EVERYBODY’S HANDS GO UP……….AND THEY STAY THERE!
EC: … I just realized both songs actually have pretty similar lyrics, because they’re both about hands going up, and we swear that wasn’t intentional in any way. But which song are you going to play when you want to rally? What song are you going to play when you want to celebrate? Which song are you really going to play when your hands fly into the air? Yeah. YEAH. We thought so.
(No matter what.)