He gets around. Ludacris has scored five No. 1 pop hits and has lobbed 26 songs onto the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart, most of which are collaborations or guest appearances. His status as a “must get” guest sprung from his rapid fire boasts and promise to “balance and rotate all tires” on Missy Elliott’s “One Minute Man," and hit the stratosphere in 2004 with his three-way romp with Usher and Lil’ Jon on “Yeah” and Ciara’s “Oh." Since then he’s had his way with pop songs by Fergie, Taio Cruz, Enrique Iglesias and Justin Bieber, and still found time for hard-core hip-hop posse cuts with the likes of Rick Ross and Snoop Dogg, always leaving whatever song is lucky enough to have him enriched with 500% more punchlines and swagger.
Can he not score hits on his own, though?
Not at all. Ludacris is an oft hilarious, dexterous and precise rapper who has crafted many hit singles on his own, including “Roll Out (My Business)," and “How Low". He was one of the first rappers to sound right at home with the tricky new-millennium beats from producers the Neptunes and Timbaland, and his 2000 debut Back for the First Time, its 2001 follow-up Word of Mouth and 2005’s The Red Light District are particularly strong, cohesive works. But something about having another artist to bounce off allows Ludacris to truly get ludicrous.
Is he funny in movies, too?
After a brief/legally required cameo in The Wash (every popular rapper was required to appear in the Snoop and Dre comedy), Ludacris had his first main role in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Since then he’s branched out into action films like Max Payne, comedies such as Friends With Benefits and whatever RocknRolla was. He was in the Oscar winning drama Crash, but his best work was as the jaded rapper Skinny Black in the 2005 hip-hop drama Hustle & Flow.
Where did Luda grow up?
Christopher Bridges was born in Champaign, Illinois and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Georgia State University and worshipped underground Southern rap groups like 8Ball & MJG and UGK. He eventually landed a job as a DJ on the Atlanta urban station Hot 97.5. "It was like training every day,” he told Vibe. “You had to put your voice out there for a million people, so that forced me to work on projecting my voice and good diction." While working as "Chris Lova Lova” and perfecting his diction, he also took the opportunity to make as many industry contacts as possible. He managed to score a cameo appearance the track “Phat Rabbit” on producer Timbaland’s solo debut Tim's Bio: Life from da Bassment. When his 1998 debut album Incognegro became a regional hit, Scarface, rap legend and newly appointed CEO of Def Jam South, signed him to a record deal. Incognegro was remixed and released with new tracks as his nationwide debut Back for the First Time. The instant success and memorably weird videos of singles like “Southern Hospitality” and “What’s Your Fantasy” and an opening slot on a red hot Outkast tour insured that Ludacris blew up almost instantaneously. He hasn’t looked back since, scoring hit albums, movie roles and endorsements with the likes of TAG, forming his own label imprint, Distrubing Tha Peace and even releasing his own brand of cognac, Conjure.
He’s quite the ladies man, isn’t he?
Yeah, in more ways than one. While it would be difficult to call a man that wrote the song “Ho’s in My Room” a feminist, for a mainstream rapper he shows a surprising amount of interest in female pleasure and the female perspective. He recruited guests Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim and Eve for 2010’s Battle of the Sexes album, because he said that he felt the female perspective had been missing from hip-hop.
He’s beefed with some pretty major dudes, right?
Yeah, and not just T.I. Sometimes that motormouth of his gets him into trouble. An avowed supporter of Barack Obama, in the 2008 Presidential campaign he dropped “Politics as Usual,” in which he preemptively called for a Presidential pardon and dissed all of Obama’s political rivals, including Jesse Jackson, George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton. Many political commentators were outraged ("McCain don’t belong in any chair unless he’s paralyzed" was probably a bit much) and the Obama campaign had to distance itself from Luda. On the other end of the spectrum, in 2003 Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly felt that Ludacris was an inappropriate spokesperson for Pepsi, and pushed for a boycott that led the soda company to terminate their endorsement deal. In response, Luda attacked O’Reilly in his lyrics, and made gleeful hay of Billo's sex scandals (“Say hi to the plantiff and wifey!”).