Kate's Notes

Sunday, March 18, 2007



Christopher Brian Bridges (born on September 11, 1977), better known as Ludacris, is renowned for his knack for comic rhymes, a big voice, and a graphic artist's widescreen sensibility. Labeled one of the great singles artists of the new decade in hip-hop, this three-time Grammy Award-winning rapper and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning actor was born in Illinois and rode the early-2000s “Dirty South” movement to widespread popularity. His songs enjoyed substantial air-play, first by urban media outlets, then onto the more mainstream MTV and pop radio. In addition to connecting him with super-producers like Timbaland, The Neptunes, Organized Noize, and Def Jam Recordings which gave Ludacris a remarkable marketing push, Ludacris quickly became one of the rap industry's most in-demand rappers, doing cameos on hits for everyone from Missy Elliott ("One Minute Man") to Jermaine Dupri ("Welcome to Atlanta"), when he wasn't dominating the urban market with his own hits, most notably "What's Your Fantasy?," "Southern Hospitality," "Area Codes," and "Rollout (My Business)."

Since his debut album off his own record label, which made it on the Billboard 200, he went onto rule the charts with Chicken-N-Beer (2003), The Red Light District (2004), and his latest release Release Therapy (2006) all toping The Billboard 200 at #1, and with the single from his latest album topping The Billboard Hot Rap Tracks, and achieving #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

He has also very successfully branched out into movies as well, where he received a plethora of critical praise for his roles in 2004’s Crash, and 2005’s Hustle & Flow; both of which went onto win multiple Oscars that year, including Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actor, respectively.

Early Life and Career

Born in Champaign, Illinois, and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Ludacris attended Benjamin Banneker High in Atlanta, and Georgia State University. He comes from a musical family, and is the cousin of R&B singer Monica, and cousin to top-notch comedian, and recording artist, Katt Williams.

In order to make a name for himself in Atlanta, and to learn more about the recording industry, he initially found some success as a radio DJ known as Chris Luva Luva. He used the opportunity to hone his craft on the microphone and learn about the industry throughout the Atlanta area, which had become the South's rap mecca starting in the mid-'90s. Eventually, he began aspiring toward a career as a rapper rather than a radio personality. Ludacris then came across the opportunity to work with one of the record producing and hip hop music moguls, Timbaland; after appearing on Timbaland’s bio album (in the original version of "Fat Rabbit") in 1998, Ludacris began taking his rap career seriously.

Incongnegro: Early 2000

He recorded an album, Incognegro, which was released May 16, 2000 on his independent label, Disturbing tha Peace. Ludacris primarily worked with producer Shondrae for the album, though also with Organized Noize to a lesser extent. Though not a smash hit nationally, Incognegro sold impressively in Atlanta, where Ludacris was well known for his radio work. It reached #179 on the Billboard in August of 2000.

Soon after Incognegro became the talk of Atlanta and "What's Your Fantasy?" became a national hit, reaching #21 on The Billboard Hot 100 in 2000. Ludacris’s talent then caught the eye of Scarface, one of the south’s most admired rappers. The “Dirty South” movement was gaining steam, and Def Jam Recordings had given the veteran rapper the go-ahead to scout for talent in order to star a Def Jam South subsidiary. Ludacris subsequently became Scarface's first signing, and Def Jam Recordings repackaged the tracks from Incognegro, along with a few new productions: a U.G.K. collaboration ("Stick 'Em Up"), The Neptunes production ("Southern Hospitality"), and a remix of his previously released song with Timbaland (retitled "Phat Rabbit").

Back For The First Time: Late 2000

Ludacris’s major label debut was released in October of 2000, when Back for the First Time was put out by Def Jam Recordings; the label gave him a substantial marketing push, choosing "What's Your Fantasy?" (an explicit duet about sexual fantasies from both the male and female perspective) as the first single. Though some radio stations were hesitant to air such a provocative song, "What's Your Fantasy?" became an enormous success – as did, to a lesser extent, its even more provocative remix featuring Foxy Brown and Trina. “What’s Your Fantasy?” reached #4 on The Billboard Top 100 and the albums second single, “Southern Hospitality” hit #5 on the Hot Rap Singles, opening the door for countless other exceptionally explicit “Dirty South” songs that would soon become the norm rather than the exception (as most trends tend to do). “What’s Your Fantasy?” was supposedly loosely based on Ludacris’s brief relationship with Sessy Melia, the producer for Incognegro.

Back for the First Time was the beginning of Ludacris's explosion to the top of the rap world.

Word of Mouf: 2001 - 2002

Ludacris’s second release, Word of Mouf, released on November 6, 2001, was also a hit, and he rose in the ranks of young rappers in radio and MTV rotation. The album peaked at #3 in December on The Billboard Hot 100 chart; the album also produced three singles: “Saturday (Oooh! Oooh!),” which peaked at #22 on The Billboard Hot 100, and #10 on the Hot Rap Singles; “Roll Out (My Business),” which peaked at #17 on The Billboard Hot 100, and #7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks; and finally, “Move B***h,” which reached #10 on The Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on both the Hot Rap Tracks, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. The video for the lead single, "Rollout (My Business)" was nominated for a 2002 Video Music Award, and Ludacris performed it live at the awards' pre-show.

Ironically, his career got a boost in 2002 when television’s moral watchdog, Bill O'Reilly expressed outrage that Pepsi had hired Ludacris as a spokesman. O'Reilly criticized Ludacris's foul language and called for a boycott of Pepsi, who then fired Ludacris and hired Ozzy Osbourne's family instead. This caused an ongoing controversy between the two.

Chicken-N-Beer: 2003

In 2003, Ludacris returned to the music scene after a brief hiatus with a new single, "Act A Fool" from the 2 Fast 2 Furious Soundtrack. At around the same time, he released the lead single from his upcoming album, Chicken-N-Beer, called "P-Poppin" (short for "Pussy Poppin'"). Neither of his new singles were as well-received by either the urban or pop audiences as his previous songs had been, and both music videos received only limited airplay.

On October 7, 2003, he released Chicken-N-Beer, which hit #1 on The Billboard 200, but without a popular single, the album fell quickly. However, the album rebounded with hit single, “Stand Up,” that reached #1 on not only The Billboard Hot 100, but also the Hot Rap Tracks, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, and went on to be become Ludacris' biggest mainstream hit to date, garnering heavy airplay on mainstream pop, rhythmic, and urban radio stations, as well as on MTV, MTV2, and BET.

Its second single, “Splash Waterfalls,” did not fair quite as well, but still held an impressive #6 on The Billboard Hot 100. The music video for “Splash Waterfalls,” was Ludacris's most sexually suggestive video yet and an R&B remix that featured Raphael Saadiq and sampled Tony! Toni! Tone!'s "Whatever You Want." Ludacris also received his first Grammy Award with Usher and Lil Jon for their hit single "Yeah."

Ludacris next released "Blow It Out," a gritty song with an urban, low-budget music video. It was a departure from the colorful, sensual, R&B leanings of "Splash Waterfalls." "Blow It Out" acted both as a response to the criticism levied by Bill O'Reilly and an attack on Pepsi's role in the affair: “Shout out to Bill O'Reilly, I'm'a throw you a curve / You mad cause I'm a thief and got away with words / I'm'a start my own beverage, it'll calm your nerves / Pepsi's the New Generation?—Blow it out cha ass!” The single peaked at #56 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks in 2004.

On June 1, 2006, a federal jury found that "Stand Up" did not infringe on the copyright of a song called "Straight Like That" by a New Jersey group known as I.O.F. He was quoted saying in an interview at the MTV Awards 2006, "I hope the plaintiffs enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame," Ludacris said after the verdict. "This whole experience is proof to me of why I will always fight for what I believe in."

The Red Light District: 2004

The Red Light District was released December 9, 2004; although not entirely different from the usual antics of the previous albums, Ludacris had taken a more mature approach to his album. Ludacris openly boasted that he might have been the only rapper able to keep Def Jam Recordings afloat on the opening track. Ludacris filmed and recorded the single "Get Back" wherein he was featured as a muscle-bound hulk who was being annoyed by the media and warned critics to leave him alone. He was featured on “Saturday Night Live” playing the song “Get Back” with Sum 41.

The follow-up single was the Austin Powers-inspired, "The Number One Spot." It was produced by New York City's Hot 97 personality DJ Green Lantern, and used Quincy Jones sample of "Soul Bossa Nova," which was sped-up to the tempo of Ludacris' rap flow. Ludacris also filmed the video in which he pokes fun at O'Reilly's problems with Andrea Mackris (Hi Mr. O'Reilly / Hope all is well kiss the plaintiff and the wifey). Production credits come also from veteran producers Timbaland, Lil' Jon, The Medicine Men, Chris Bridges (from Japan) and legendary rapper Doug E. Fresh. Featured artists on the album include Nas, DJ Quik, DMX, Trick Daddy, and Disturbing tha Peace newcomers Bobby Valentino (of Mista fame) and Dolla Boi and Small World. The album debuted at #1 on The Billboard 200.

Release Therapy: 2006

Prior to the release of Release Therapy, Ludacris produced a mixtape album called, Pre-Release Therapy: The Truth Shall Set You Free, which is presented by DJ Green Lantern. Although, Ludacris had previously been featured in his own mixtapes, this was the only mixtape album that focused on new vocals and unreleased appearances by Ludacris.

In addition, in 2006 he changed his look dramatically and began presenting himself as having grown from "the clown prince of rap" into a mature, respectable artist. He then went onto release the new album, Release Therapy, on September 26, 2006 and was back on the charts again with the single "Money Maker."

The hip-hop based magazine, XXL placed Ludacris in the #9 spot for the most anticipated albums of 2006, for Release Therapy. The album had two sides: a “Release” side and a “Therapy” side – the “Release” side having songs that allow him to vent and the “Therapy” side allowing him to relax (feel-good music). The first single, "Money Maker," which featured Pharrell Williams, was released to United States radio outlets on July 17. "Money Maker" reached #1 on the BET 106 & Park Countdown for the first time on September 15, 2006, and #1 on The Billboard Hot 100. Later, in October of 2006, the album reached #1 on The Billboard 200, with sales of more than 300,000 in its first week.

This album was also awarded Rap Album of the year during the 2007 Grammy Awards. With the release of this album, Ludacris marked a change in style in his career with his musical style. A change of hair accompanied this as he cut off his trademark braids for a more conventional "fade" cut. This was done to project a new image for the album: one of business and class.

Musical Technique

Ludacris is known for the immense style in his music, which is ultimately showcased on the first singles from each of his albums. Ludacris is also known for featuring on other artist’s songs, which then become more popular than his own songs from his albums. These songs include Ciara’s “Oh!” and Usher's “Yeah!” His flow ranges from rapping clearly and plainly in the beats of his songs to rapping with a cartoon-like behavior that is unlike to the style of many rap artists. He is more popular for his flow and style, rather than his lyrics, in which in many feature songs, Ludacris’s style contrasts much from the mainstream flow that many rappers follow. He is also known for vocals that stand out in his verses.

Acting Career

Ludacris first role was small: he played the “Customer” in the 2001 film, The Wash; though he gained more notoriety as an actor when he landed a small role in 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, starring Paul Walker. However, his big break came in 2005, where he received critical praise for his roles in two Oscar-winning films: he played Skinny Black in the movie Hustle & Flow (2005, starring Terrence Howard) and had a small role in the drama Crash (2004, with Don Cheadle). Crash includes an ironic sequence where Ludacris's character is dismissive of hip-hop music. Interestingly, in both films, he is physically beaten by characters played by Terrence Howard. In these films, he is occasionally credited as "Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges.”

Not only did these roles give Ludacris a different level of respect amongst his audience and peers, but on January 29, 2006, Hollywood critics took notice and he was awarded with a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture for his work in the film Crash. Ludacris also narrated the 2006 Ward Serrill basketball documentary, Heart of the Game.

On March 28, 2006 he appeared in an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Ludacris portrayed Darius Randall, the nephew of Detective Odafin Tutuola, portrayed by Ice T.

Ludacris also provided the voice for the character "Weathers" - a ferret, in the animated film Lil' Pimp in 2005; and he also finished wrapping a small part in the movie Fred Claus, starring Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti, where he plays the “Angry Elf,” which is currently in post-production. He is also filming for Def Jam: Icon, a video game that is in production and also includes other famous recording artists including, Russell Simmons, Ice-T, T.I., Method Man, Lil’ Jon and many more.

Controversy, Battles and Media Attention

Bill O'Reilly

In February of 2003, Bill O’Reilly, who is the host of his own right-winged, politically charged talk show, Fox News’s “The O'Reilly Factor,” called for all people to boycott Pepsi because they were using Ludacris as one of their celebrity sponsors; he proclaimed, “So I'm calling for all responsible Americans to fight back and punish Pepsi for using a man who degrades women, who encourages substance abuse, and does all the things that hurt particularly the poor in our society.”

Pepsi dropped Ludacris and instead signed the foul-mouthed, drug addled Osborne Family. In response, popular hip-hop music mogul Russell Simmons organized a boycott against the company. Simmons demanded an apology from Pepsi to Ludacris and a 5 million dollar donation to one of Ludacris' charities. Eventually, Simmons and Pepsi settled on an agreement to stop the boycott, before it officially began. While Pepsi did not formally apologize to Ludacris, they did agree to donate millions of dollars over several years to Russell Simmons Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.

Ludacris' song "Blow It Out" (from the Chicken-N-Beer album) acted as a scathing response to his critics, namely Bill O'Reilly. In another song, "Hoes in My Room", he tells a story about anonymous prostitutes being left in his room, and at the end of the last verse says: "Then it got to my head and Somethin' remind me / I know who let 'em in, it was Bill O'Reilly." Then, in 2004, in "Number 1 Spot": "Respected highly, Hi Mr. O'Reilly / Hope all is well, kiss the plaintiff and the wifey."

When Ludacris hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 2006, a sketch involved O'Reilly telling a Def Jam executive that he will boycott Def Jam if Ludacris isn't fired. O'Reilly, played by Darrell Hammond, says that although his boycotts have had the opposite effect of his intention, Def Jam's sales will decrease dramatically.

Upon winning the Grammy for Best Rap Album on February 11, 2007, Ludacris included in his thank-yous a "special shout-out to Bill O'Reilly." The following day, Bill O'Reilly responded on his show with a less than enthusiastic response. He soon began criticizing Ludacris' Grammy win - O'Reilly did not appreciate his lyrics.

Oprah Winfrey

In a 2006 interview with GQ magazine, Ludacris criticized Oprah Winfrey about his appearance on her show with the cast of the film Crash. During the interview, the conversation veered by Winfrey from the movie to Ludacris's lyrical content; he felt this was unfair as he was visiting her show in the capacity of an actor and not a rapper. Also, Ludacris was upset that some of his responses were later edited from the show's airing. He was later joined by other rappers such as 50 Cent, Ice Cube and Killer Mike who argued that Winfrey had an anti-hip hop bias.

Winfrey responded by saying that she's opposed to rap lyrics that "marginalize women," but enjoys some artists, including Jay-Z and Kanye West, who appeared on her show. She also said she spoke with Ludacris backstage after his appearance to explain her position and said she understood that his music was for entertainment purposes, but that some of his listeners might take it literally. Ludacris later said the media had blown his comments out of proportion and said he respects Winfrey and considers her "a great individual." At the 2007 Grammy Awards Ludacris gave a special shout-out to Oprah Winfrey; this time, however, not ironically, as he did with O'Reilly.


In 2004, before the release of his debut album Straight Outta Ca$hville, Nashville native and G-Unit member Young Buck would enlist the services of fellow Atlanta emcee T.I., also known as T.I.P. in his native Bankhead neighborhood of west side Atlanta. They would create a track entitled "Stomp" amid growing tension between Buck's good friend Ludacris and T.I. On the track, T.I. takes covert shots at Ludacris including the line "me gettin' beat down, that's ludicrous." Buck, immediately sensing the tension, decided before releasing the track to notify Ludacris that T.I. had mentioned him since he didn't want to position himself as encouraging T.I.'s actions. Ludacris heard the track and asked Buck if he could add his own verse; to which Buck agreed. The results end up being costly for T.I., as he is berated throughout Ludacris' verse and called out by name in his last line. Representatives from T.I. notified Buck that T.I.'s vocals would not be cleared for the album unless T.I. is allowed to change his verse, and also have Ludacris change his. Buck refused this offer and T.I. prohibited his vocals from being used. Buck had Hypeman and fellow rapper D-Tay replace T.I. on the song; D-Tay himself was eventually replaced by Compton rapper The Game on the official release.

Although T.I. was removed, the street cut featuring him and Ludacris had already been leaked to DJs in Atlanta and New York City. T.I. was unable to stop the track's distribution throughout the streets of the nation at this point. It is widely accepted that T.I. "lost" this battle with Ludacris easily being the victor. The beef between Ludacris and T.I. was then put to an end behind closed doors as T.I. said that the problems between them have ceased.

However, in 2006, T.I. would release his highly anticipated fourth solo album entitled KING. In his Just Blaze produced track titled "I'm Talkin To You," T.I. lyrically attacks one or more unknown targets who have widely been speculated to be either Ludacris, New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne, or Houston rapper Lil' Flip (whom T.I. also had beef with but has since ended their animosity behind closed doors) or a combination of all three. It is still unknown whether or not T.I. was in fact battling Ludacris again or anyone else for that matter at all.


In July of 2006, a track entitled "War with God" would see Ludacris return after some time off from music, and concentrating on movies instead. In the track, Ludacris goes on the offensive against an unknown rapper who has sold drugs, and makes repeated references to shooting guns in his songs, isn't as rich as he (Ludacris) and likes to give himself titles - all very well known characteristics and facts directly relating to T.I and Young Jeezy (or countless other less popular rappers) or the new coming rappers Yung Joc and Young Dro. In this instance, it also unknown whether or not Ludacris is indeed aiming his disses at Young Jeezy, T.I. or if the track is even a song recorded recently. Ludacris recently stated that the song was deeper than just a diss, and the song is more about him than anyone else, it's showing that he isn't just the “cartoon entertainer” type rapper that he has always been portrayed as, when asked about who specific rhymes were aimed at he said "The guilty will speak." The track was confirmed as a selection from Ludacris' album Release Therapy. "War with God" uses a beat written by Don Cheegro and Dirty Harry.

Charity Work and Activism

Ludacris founded The Ludacris Foundation, along with Chaka Zulu; it is an organization that helps young middle and high school students motivate themselves in creative arts.


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