Ludacris, Kesha, Jay Sean, Trey Songz, Kevin Rudolf, Jason Derulo | Allstate Arena | Hip-Hop, Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Ludacris, Kesha, Jay Sean, Trey Songz, Kevin Rudolf, Jason Derulo Early Warnings (Music) Member Picks The List (Music) Soundboard

When: Fri., May 21, 6 p.m. 2010
Price: $10-$250
Ludacris is at his best when he's at his most cartoonish—a hyper-lascivious party animal with an endlessly dirty mind. So the news that he was working on something like a concept album—the most notoriously fun-killing of all formats—was disheartening. Turns out it's about fucking, which is a relief. Originally planned as a team-up with Chicago rapper Shawnna (who's since left Luda's Disturbing tha Peace to take up with T-Pain's Nappy Boy Entertainment), Battle of the Sexes links him up with a fair percentage of the female stars currently working in hip-hop (among them Eve, Lil' Kim, and the cramazing Nicki Minaj), and the results snap hard enough to make up for the strange joylessness in the debauchery on his other recent albums.

Several female acts have found underground success in the past few years by showing that girls can do "louche clubster" just as well as boys, so a mainstream artist was bound to break using the same approach. Kesha, a protege of pop wizard Dr. Luke, has Uffie's flow, the Millionaires' fuck-'em-and-forget-'em attitude, and more ambition than either. The obnoxiously nasal talk-singing and dangerously sugary electro-pop-rap on her debut album, Animal (RCA), connected with a gajillion teenage girls—and a really surprising number of actual adults—who were apparently looking for something harder than Miley Cyrus but weren't yet sophisticated enough to see through Kesha's flimsy party-girl image. Hopefully it's just a phase.

—Miles Raymer

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