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Top 40 Philosophy Flashback: Ludacris, “Roll Out”

Posted in Friendly Philosophy, Music, and Top 40 Philosophy

Yesterday at the Tillman Family Thanksgiving Festivities, my brothers told me I should do a Ludacris song today. Tillmans communicate with each other almost entirely through our own set of memes (usually movie and song quotations), and one that has recently been added to the language is the exclamation “Luda!,” from Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” When my brothers — who had successfully avoided hearing Mr. Bieber’s music for much longer than most people — encountered the song, they found Ludacris’s self-introduction endearingly hilarious.

So, in the spirit of family holidays, I present for your consideration, “Roll Out,” by Ludacris. The song made it to #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2002, though it was released in 2001, the same year Dido’s “Thank You” — our song yesterday — made it to #3.

That is the first Ludacris song I remember clearly. The “hook” (which, in rap refers to the chorus as a whole) is so catchy. Well done, Timbaland.

The “20s,” to which the chorus refers, are 20-inch wheels/rims that were popular with car enthusiasts in 2001, and made them (the cars, not the enthusiasts) look like Amish tractors. Though I’ve always thought such wheels look silly, they show off how much money their owners have to spend on making their cars look like they have so much money to spend simply on making their cars look like their owners have so much money to spend simply on making their cars look like . . . (etc., to infinity). The whole song, in other words, is about the attention Ludacris gets because of his “conspicuous consumption.”

Money is a form of power (as the Wikipedia article on conspicuous consumption notes), in that if you have money, you have the ability to get other people to do things for you. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the chorus of the song begins with: “I got my twin Glock 40s, cocked back / Me and my homies, so drop that.” That is, Ludacris’s economic power is in addition to the physical power provided by weapons and a team to back him up.

Everyone has heard the phrase, “The love of money is the root of all evil,” from 1 Timothy 6:10, and I think we can see here why that phrase might be true. The love of money is a love of power.

But what’s so great about power? Having power over other people makes you feel important, significant, and valuable, which is something humans intrinsically need. Furthermore, even though Ludacris ends the song by telling people to “get out

[his] business,” things often don’t seem real/objective to you unless other people see/hear/experience them too. (This is the issue of intersubjectivity, which we discussed on Monday.)

So, I suppose one of the good things about Thanksgiving is that it gave us a day to tell other people that we find them important, significant, and valuable, and thus to affirm for them that what they might have only suspected otherwise.


  1. Ezra Tillman
    Ezra Tillman

    That’s probably the first Luda song I’ve ever heard.

    November 28, 2014
  2. Until you have heard a full song by LUDA, you have not truly lived.

    November 28, 2014

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