Ludacris: Bigger and bolder

Elissa Vallano

The ever-changing world of hip-hop dominates every aspect of daily life – movies, television, radio, fashion – you name it, and the rap industry has their hands in it. The industry also chews up and spits out hundreds of artists every year, leaving a select few of hip-hop’s elite to rule the business with an iron fist. Southern rapper Ludacris has not only avoided this brutal fate, but he has risen to the surface as an enigmatic and inventive rapper helping to shape a new generation of MCs. Eagerly anticipating the Oct. 7 release of his new album, “Chicken and Beer,” to which he claims is his best work to date, Ludacris was eager to sit down and let everyone know who he is and what his new album is all about.

“Practice makes perfect, and as time goes on, my work is only getting better. My new album is much more versatile than any of my others. I have been trying new things and reinventing myself,” Ludacris says. “This record is more about me telling stories about my life. I’m extremely self-motivated, and because I love what I do, I always want to improve myself. Some of the songs in ‘Chicken and Beer’ are based on my life and where I am in my life, some are just about having fun, some are about women. Basically all of my music is about how hard life can be. It takes you on new twists and turns, and you just have to learn to roll with it.”

With all of the different styles of rap out there, Ludacris defines everything southern. “Southern rap has a style all its own,” he says. “It’s more aggressive. It focuses more on feelings and emotions than East and West Coast rap does. It also uses more live instruments and freestyle vocals. Southern rap definitely has its own particular sound.”

Ludacris has been on a mission to promote his new album, making appearances at every social function he could find. He recently appeared on MTV’s Video Music Awards, and he has nothing but rave reviews for his girl, Mary J. Blige. “Forget the Britney / Madonna / Christina kiss. Mary J. Blige’s performance was the best part of the show. When she performs, she puts her whole heart into it. She always gives 110 percent with everything she does. I consider her one of the best rap and R&B artists. It’s amazing. She sings with so much passion and heart.”

Ludacris understands that in order to be a better artist, you have to learn from those around you. That’s why for “Chicken and Beer,” he made sure to do plenty of collaborations. “I want to do more. I want to be the most versatile MC out there, and collaborations show versatility. Hip-hop changes everyday, and you have to keep with the times to stay on top. You don’t have to change who you are, but you have to change your style. For my new record, I worked with the Disturbing the Peace Family, Chingy, Snoop Dog, 8-Ball and Jay-Z. I walked away with something from all of them.”

Ludacris has been a very busy man lately, also taking on a movie career. This summer he starred in “Fast and the Furious 2” with Paul Walker and Tyrese (and the movie scooped up the No. 1 spot its opening weekend). Even with the success of “Fast and the Furious 2,” Ludacris is taking a break from Hollywood. “The movie was so much fun, but it was crazy at the same time. I take both my music and my acting seriously, and that’s why I like to focus on one thing at a time. Right now, I’m focusing on my album.”

Ludacris is someone who knows what it takes to stay on top of a ruthless game at which so many people fail. And it appears that his plan is working. His new video, “Stand Up” is being played in heavy rotation on MTV and BET, and the single is invading the radio airwaves. It appears that Ludacris has figured out the key to a long and successful career and the rest of the music industry is just trying to catch up with him.