Ludacris Interview

Adam Bernard

This fall Ludacris is going to be all about "Chicken and Beer." "We're going to sell a million copies just based off the title alone," the southern rapper exclaimed when talking about his upcoming album. He continued "I feel that as the older I get, the more I rap, the better I get, practice makes perfect, so I'm just basically sayin' every album I come up with, as long as it's the latest album, it's gonna be the best album from me. It just keeps getting better and better so 'Chicken and Beer' will be the best LP I've ever put out." Luda describes the album, saying "it's the same Ludacris that the core audience loves but then always tryina take things to the next level and do some different stuff that no one would expect me to do, just to take it to the next level. Versatility is important."

Versatility isn't the only thing important to the Atlanta native, Ludacris is also serious when it comes to charity. Launched two years ago, The Ludacris Foundation is an Atlanta based charity that Luda puts his whole heart into. "My foundation is geared towards helping kids help themselves doing a number of projects, not necessarily just one thing, but like feeding the homeless, going to rehabilitation centers for kids and visitin them, givin out free stuff, sponsoring boys and girls clubs, sponsoring trophies and uniforms, givin out turkeys at Thanksgiving, sponsoring families at Christmas."

The Ludacris Foundation was supposed to receive a hefty gift from Pepsi after the whole ad situation, but apparently no check has been made out yet. According to Luda, "we still never came to an agreement with the foundation when people and Russell Simmons stepped in and people thought that we did, we never did." When asked to play a little word association with the words "Pepsi," and "Bill O'Reilly," the normally humorous MC takes on a very serious tone. "Hypocrite, Racist. Both are hypocrites and you can say they're both racists. Pepsi doesn't value the black dollar, I feel, and that all comes from, using me as an example, it wasn't just about Ludacris it's bigger than me, but they insulted Hip-Hop music as a whole by saying that, by putting the Osbournes on that basically makes me believe that they're saying that I am worse than the Osbournes. Who can say I'm worse than the Osbournes? Man that's crazy." Despite this situation Ludacris still has a positive attitude toward the ad world, saying "like I tell people I'm glad that happened, it was a big learnin experience for me, as a matter of fact we're in negotiations to do a lot more endorsements so it didn't hurt me in that aspect."

After that incident Luda can add corporate to the other forms of shadiness he already knows about. When it comes to the music industry, Luda laughs at the concept of trying to put into words how shady the game can get. "There's no way to measure it, it gets ridiculously corrupt and shady, man. Everybody's always lookin out for their own ass, especially in record companies. No one wants to get fired. They'll do or say anything not to get themselves in trouble. Egos play a big part when it comes to artists, and when it comes to producers. It's a political game, man, it's almost like the music industry is it's own separate kind of government and you gotta try and play the game the right way." Paying that game is something Luda's done as a radio station DJ, an independent artist, and now as a superstar.

Of course, there's one other kind of shadiness Luda's familiar with, Slim Shady. Luda and his DTP click were on last year's Anger Management tour along with Eminem, Xzibit, and Papa Roach. Luda loved the experience, saying "me bein in front of Eminem's audience, he has a like a 10 million and over audience, so just bein in front of him was great because, of course, that made awareness for myself, and some people that maybe necessarily didn't listen to my music were listenin then, especially since we had Papa Roach on there."

There were also groupies there, and when groupies get crazy they turn into stalkers. Luda had one stalker story from the Anger Management Tour, and it happened when they were in the NC/VA area. "One time, you always have your general stalkers, but it was like a whole family that was stalkin me man and I was scared to death because it was the mother the father and like two kids. It was ridiculous man."

The reaction that Ludacris got when he hit the stage in Atlanta was ridiculous, too, ridiculously huge. "Home is like the best place to perform," he explains, continuing "there's other records that not necessarily everyone else across the country knows but (in) Atlanta they know even more records than what is national, so I do a show in Atlanta and I have even three or four more songs than the world knows." Always showing support for his home state, Luda recently bought a new house there, in College Park. He jokingly says he'll answer the door if MTV Cribs comes knocking on one condition, "maybe, eventually, if they give me the whole half an hour."

When it comes to how many women will be getting in those doors, the man who once said he had hoes in different area codes says he's calming down a bit, but no he's not married. "I'm not married. There's always this rumor flyin around that I'm married. I used to have a lot of different pros in different area codes but now I've kinda narrowed it down, let's just say that."

While the number of "pros" he has may be shrinking, the number of remixes he's featured on is growing by leaps and bounds. Luda is the unofficial king of the remix, appearing with everyone from Cam'Ron to Usher, and expect to hear him keep popping up on other people's songs as he explains "a lotta people just say they wanna work with me and I think that's great man." He continued, "I feel like working with different artists, it keeps me balanced, it keeps me working with different styles and I learn from every artist I work with, so it's almost like I think that's the greatest thing in the world." Though he doesn't like to play favorites, Ludacris did say who he felt he's learned the most from, "out of all the collaborations I would have to say R. Kelly, to be real with you, just because dude is like a studio junkie man he's like a lab rat and he's so focused when it comes to his music." He also cited Kelly, and Missy Elliott as two of his favorite people to work with. In the end the learning experience is always a good thing, but Luda adds that there is another reason to continue to do remixes, "(I'm) lettin different people's audiences hear me on different records. It's all about doin the unexpected, man."

There are some things that fall into the category of "expected" for Luda, however, including a few release dates. The soundtrack to The Fast and the Furious 2 is set to drop May 27th, the movie, which Luda has a role in, is due out June 6th, and Luda's third solo effort, "Chicken and Beer" will be dropping in early fall. Luda calls his role in The Fast and the Furious 2, "like a medium role, it's not too big, it's not too small, it's a pretty good role. I'll see where it takes me." Fans of his music need not worry, Luda's not about to become a full time actor. He is quick to say "music will always be (my) number one love," and that's news that should keep plenty of people happy, and plenty of remixes hot.

Ludacris Interview

Christopher Bridges

Ludacris: I-ight, what's up man!?

Spence D., Editor-in-Chief, IGN Music: Not much, how're things with you?

Ludacris: Pretty good.

IGN Music: Cool. So I was looking at your upcoming film projects and unless things have changed you're working on a movie called Hustle and Flow, right?

Ludacris: Yeah.

IGN Music: I see that Isaac Hayes is in that, too.

Ludacris: Yeah he is!

IGN Music: Have you met him yet and gotten a chance to hang out with him?

Ludacris: I forgot about that [laughs] ISAAC HAYES! Naw, you know I was on set with him. I didn't get a chance to "hang out" with him, 'cause I don't know where the hell we'd be hanging out at, to be real. But he was a real cool guy, man. I was definitely kinda star struck myself, to be real.

IGN Music: You're also in the new Def Jam Fight For New York video game…

Ludacris: Yeah man and to be real with you, I don't even get to play video games as much as I would like to. I used to be a video game freak, but I've kind of like eased back. I played Def Jam Vendetta a couple of times, but this one I haven't even really gotten a chance to break into yet.

IGN Music: Damn. But you were involved in the production of the game in terms of your character, right?

Ludacris: Oh yeah.

IGN Music: What actually did you do? Did you specify what special moves you wanted your character to have? When they approached you to be in the sequel did you have some ideas of how you wanted your character to be improved?

Ludacris: Yeah, I had input as far as what I wanted to wear and my moves and what I wanted to call them. So with that being said, I was very happy about that, 'cause you know having creative input on something being animated is definitely [cool]. I mean it's like how many people can say that they've been turned into a video game character? That's grateful all within itself.

IGN Music: No doubt. I mean once you've had a video game character and an action figure modeled after you, you're all set, you know?

Ludacris: [sneezes] Yeah, that's what I'm saying.

IGN Music: Bless you.

Ludacris: Thank you.

IGN Music: When you went in for Def Jam Fight For New York what were the new special moves you wanted added to your character that weren't in Vendetta?

Ludacris: Like the Ludacrucification [laughs].

IGN Music: Nice.

Ludacris: The Ludacrucification is where I hold them up in the air to where they almost look like a cross and then I just drop them on my knee or something.

IGN Music: How did you come up with that move?

Ludacris: Well, I mean, you know, it was just trying to be clever with the name, working in the Ludacris thing, "Ludacrucification." I don't even know how I came up with the name. I mean I don't even know how I come up with my lyrics, man. It just comes from somewhere. I'm just trying to be creative.

IGN Music: Speaking of which, I was listening to your jump off single "Get Back" and me and some of the guys got to talking about your albums and more specifically your musical style and we couldn't really pinpoint or pigeonhole you into one particular style. I mean if you listen to your records sometimes you're a little bit crunk and other times you're a little bit bling, then a little bit comedic, a little bit party oriented, a little bit Old School, you don't really have one singular style.

Ludacris: I'm glad you said that. I've been trying to nail it into everyone's heads that I feel like I am the most versatile rapper. So if you wanted to pin something on me, you can definitely pin that on me! I'm a little bit of everything, man and I'm happy to say that. With that being said I think that means that I'll be around for a long time. SO whatever's hot, I'm gonna have a piece of it [laughs].

IGN Music: Right on. But on the same token sometimes being so diverse and so versatile and people can't pigeonhole you, it's almost tougher to be successful than if you fit nicely into one style or niche. You know, being all over the map can make it tougher to be successful because of the fact that people can't pin you down, you know? But you seem to have broken that mold in a manner of speaking and become a master of many styles.

Ludacris: Exactly! And that's how I like to think of it. I'm very happy that you said that.

IGN Music: Since I haven't peeped the entire album yet, I know you've got a ton of guests on the various tracks like DMX, Nate Dogg, DJ Quik. Who are some of the guest producers you enlisted for the album?

Ludacris: Lil' Jon, Timbaland, Organized Noize, new producers like Ice Drake, LC, Craig King, just to name a few.

IGN Music: The juxtaposition of established producers like Lil' Jon and Timbaland with new cats like the ones you just mentioned, what was the decision with that?

Ludacris: It goes back right to what we were talking about: versatility man! I wanted different styles with the beats, with everything. I don't want to just have one thing.

IGN Music: How did you stumble upon some of these new cats? Are they guys from around Atlanta that have come to your attention or did some of them send you tapes?

Ludacris: It's a mixture of people in Atlanta, people who have sent me tapes, people that I've worked with, everything. It's just a mixture of all of that.

IGN Music: Tying into that versatility thing, I imagine that when you go into the studio you're not trying to just come up with one set sound, especially if you are working with so many different producers. That said, what do you look for in a beat? Does it have to hit you intellectually or emotionally? What is it that you look for when a producer steps to you and says "I think I have a joint you'll like?"

Ludacris: What do I look for in a producer?

IGN Music: Yeah or what do you look for in a beat, you know?

Ludacris: I never really know until I hear it, man. It's just something that sparks me and I don't even know what sparks me until I hear it. It's almost like when I go to the mall and I don't know what I'm looking for until I see it. That's just how I am.

IGN Music: It sounds like it's almost more of a sub-conscious thing, eh?

Ludacris: Yeah. It's crazy.

IGN Music: Don't take this question the wrong way, but do you think you will ever reach a point of being over-exposed? I mean you guest like crazy on other people's albums. You pop up all around on recent releases from Lil' Jon, Young Buck, plus you have your own career both in music and film and in TV commercials. Do you think there's such a thing as being too over-exposed?

Ludacris: Yeah, that's why I try to do everything I do really strategically. I don't want to be too over-exposed, but then at the same time I don't want to be too out-of-sight-out-of-mind.

IGN Music: Then it's just all about trying to find that balance between the two.

Ludacris: Exactly! Right. And that's what I always continuously try to do.

IGN Music: Now with the video of "Get Back" I read that you were gunning to have Spike Jonze to direct it, but he was unable to take the project on, so who have you chosen as a replacement?

Ludacris: We're deciding over the next couple of days, as a matter of fact. So I wouldn't really talk about that until we know for sure right now.

IGN Music: Well, when it comes down to making the video, how involved do you get? Do you come up with the initial story and then work hand-in-hand with the director or do you let them take control of the whole thing? I mean do you pick out a director and then tell them what your idea is or do let them say "This is what the song means to me, so let's do this." Or does it depend?

Ludacris: It's both. It's one of those situations where it's both. It's kind of like I'll give them ideas and the director will give me ideas and then we gel, just trying to match the song so that we take the visuals and merge them perfectly with the song. That's what we do.

IGN Music: That Boost Mobile commercial is kinda hot right now, the one you did with Kanye and The Game. Have you ever recorded a song over the phone?

Ludacris: Like lyrics? No, no, no, I've never done that.

IGN Music: Where do you see rap being today? I feel that we're at a crossroads in terms of the creation of new genres. We've gone through the Old School, the New School, the True School, Gangsta, Bling, but it seems like we're at a period where the medium is trying to redefine itself. What are your thoughts on this?

Ludacris: Yeah, I think history repeats itself, but in different ways. Kind of like how Crunk music, I think it's the New School Bass music. So I just see hip-hop, you know kind of like there are new styles and it's just getting' bigger and bigger. You know, you see it in commercials…I wouldn't even call the Boost Mobile commercial, definition-wise a commercial because they let us do the hell what we wanted to do. It was just like real. With that being said, I'm very happy with kind of where hip-hop is going. As long as no one forgets where it came from, you know what I'm sayin'?

IGN Music: That's one of the things that gets tougher with each new generation, though. I got into rap back in the mid-'80s, so I remember the advent of the New School. But then I work with cats in their twenty's who don't remember that era. It's like with each successive generation an older one seems to get forgotten.

Ludacris: Yeah, well you know, sometimes that is what happens. But to each his own, man. Right now I'm kind of concentrating on how I feel about it and I will always keep with me how [I remember getting into it]. Like the first record I bought was UTFO, man. And I was always kind of a Run DMC and LL Cool J fan. So with that being said I'll always keep that with me, but life is all about change, so I just continue to change with the times as long as I stay myself.

IGN Music: Do you at all feel the need to bestow some knowledge upon younger cats? You know, teach them about UTFO and such or only if they want to be taught about that?

Ludacris: I mean yes and no because they have people before my time that I may or may not want to necessarily hear about because I feel like LL Cool J is my time. So, you know, it's important to let them know where it comes from, but you don't have to drill it into their head because every generation has somebody that they kind of started with and look up to at the same time, so you have to respect that.

IGN Music: You do realize that somewhere in the world you are that guy that somebody started listening to hip-hop music because of and they look up to you, right? Like you are to some kids like LL Cool J was to you.

Ludacris: Right.

IGN Music: How does that make you feel?

Ludacris: That makes me feel great and it also keeps me on my toes.

IGN Music: Okay, since your new album is titled Red Light District, have you ever been to the true red light district in Amsterdam?

Ludacris: Yeah! I was young at the time so, you know, I didn't really experience that much. I just saw [what goes on there] [laughs].
-- Spence D.

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