Froback Friday is a weekly feature of a music video from the platinum age of hip hop. 1998-2003, when rap was truly crossing over into the mainstream and I was regularly attending middle school dances.
Ludacris was my favorite rapper in sixth grade. This will not be his last time featured on Froback Friday. Chris Bridges found minor success with his 1999 independent album Incognegro. For his Def Jam debut, he recruited then-budding production duo The Neptunes to build their hardest song ever as his second single. It’s abrasive, offensive, it makes my stomach rumble near a speaker and it’s unapologetically American. It is perfect.
The video features appearances from Too $hort, Scarface, Lil Jon and I think Jazze Pha. The first half shows Luda leaning out his Cadillac as the passenger steadies the wheel as well as scenes rolling through Atlanta on a truck bed and standing outside a “Rib Shack” with various members of the community. Midway through, two women chase Ludacris into the street as “Ho” plays – a song I probably didn’t need to memorize at 11 years old – and when he gets his by a bus, the women start dancing.
The second half of the video has Luda hanging with his hair loose (possibly an angel?) and an upside-down airbrushed face on his shirt that brilliantly appears flipped right-side-up. The format of the song, the imagery of “20-inch thighs” and “20-inch pies,” and the sequence of “Dirty South mind blown/Dirty South bred/Catfish fried up Dirty South fed/Sleep in a cot’ pickin Dirty South bed” is all straight-up genius. Throughout, Ludacris wears Atlanta Hawks and Braves gear, a furry hat long before this clown, and sideburns in the shape of the Nike symbol.