Track Review: Ciara – “Ride” (feat. Ludacris)

[LaFace; 2010]

Ciara returns after the diminishing returns of Fantasy Ride with an album overseen by R&B genius The-Dream. Hype surrounding new album Basic Instinct dictates that she’s returning to her roots, and perhaps it’s not surprising that her fifth collaboration with Ludacris sounds suspiciously like her 2004 masterpiece “Oh.” But first single “Ride” is all about the cold boom-bap sexuality of metal on metal, where the only heat created comes from breath, from vocals. Ciara’s vocals on “Ride” are almost virtuosic, fluidly morphing from playful to lusty, and check the way her voice thickens with confidence in the second verse, as the coy fairy turns into an aggressive, bloodthirsty nymphomaniac. The passive implications of a chorus like “he love the way I ride it” are transformed into an inverse power game where she dominates through her submission: her vocals resume their weaker timbre when she assertively stretches the verse to its breaking point, pulling word after word out of the rubbery confines until it forcefully snaps back into the way it’s supposed to be and her vocals turn wispy and float away. The feminist illusion loses ground with a perfunctory guest verse from Ludacris, but if you need more, don’t forget that this song is written by The-Dream, so it’s got all those glorious melodies and vocal tics: she markets it so good, I can’t wait to try-y-y-y-y it.