Ludacris has been both media darling and media devil, but all of the fanfare is just a testament to the Atlanta native’s fortitude as a budding Hip-Hop icon. Despite selling millions, Luda is still the property of Hip-Hop. With that, he’s building businesses, battling rappers, taking out critics and emerges triumphant with The Red Light District, his latest. The album collects some of rap’s finest (DMX, DJ Quik, Nate Dogg, Timbaland and others) and demonstrates why one Chris Bridges can still line ‘em up. Here, he discusses the problems with Chingy (who responds in the latest XXL magazine), how important lyrics are to him, and his 10 year life plan.
AllHipHop.com: Can you speak on the album and what you think people will expect on it?
Ludacris: The name of the album is The Red Light District; when people hear[it, they] will automatically think that of that place in Germany, because what is illegal here in the States is legal there. When I say The Red Light District, I mean a state of mind where there’s no limitations, and me trying to do different things, and being creative and wild.
AllHipHop.com: On to the drama…what are your thoughts about Chingy’s departure from your Distubing The Peace?
Ludacris: He said he was going to holler at me about it, and he has yet to do it. I’m not one of those people who won’t speak freely, or bad, or say anything crazy about the person, because of the simple fact I haven’t spoke to him in person. I could only say that I am upset that he said that he would come to me about it, but didn’t. So I can’t really speak about it. Things have happened the way they have. I don’t know why the hell he hasn’t stepped forward. Come holler at me.
AllHipHop.com: Were you guys friends?
Ludacris: Definitely, we were definitely friends and we were in line as far as business partners concern in what relationship we had. But as far as him talking bad about me or spreading rumors about DTP, I’m in denial. I don’t want to believe any of this s**t, but still can’t say anything without talking to him. But if he doesn’t come to me in person, I won’t have no choice but to come out and speak about it. I will not battle-rap him, because it’s personal.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking a bit on personal lives, do you seem to avoid that putting your real life in music?
Ludacris: Its not that I avoid it, but I just don’t use it to sell records. I have no problem talking about my personal life, I have talked about it in certain interviews, but the fact of the matter is, that I feel that my music is good enough to sell my music and not my personal life. If my personal life gets involved, and anybody asks me questions about it, then I have no problems with answering the questions. But as far as putting my personal life out there, I don’t feel the need to volunteer the information.
AllHipHop.com: How have you matured, gotten smarter since you got in the Rap game?
Ludacris: I mature and get smarter each and everyday. Sometimes I believe it is just nature taking its course, because naturally we learn and become more experienced. So me in the industry gaining more experience, I would say I have a lot more knowledge and have become a smarter businessman. I feel like I will always want to be a better man, a better individual, a better artist, I want to get better with my music. I am always looking for room for improvement. As soon as I get comfortable, or my music becomes predictable is when I start falling off. So I feel that I always need to be abreast of what is going on, to stay new and re-invent and re-create.
AllHipHop.com: How important are lyrics to you, to some people lyrics are not that important anymore?
Ludacris: Lyrics have always been important to me; I never want to forget where I came from. For me battling at lunch in high school and middle school is where it all began so, even though music changes and you have to change with the time. I would never change myself, so that aspect of lyricism would never leave me as an individual. I know and I won’t call any names, but as time goes on you notice your favorite artist seem to care less and less about lyrics. Their music becomes more sugar-coated and its almost like what happened to this person, they were so good, and now they are like real bulls**t, I never want to be that person and I try hard not be that individual.
AllHipHop.com: Lyrically, the beef with T.I. was bubbling for awhile. How did it really Start?
Ludacris: We sat down and spoke about him calling my name on a record, like two grown men. I was thinking about is why is this man putting my name on a record? I had no idea why he said me by name, and you know the name of the game, somebody says your name in a record you have to react to it. But from my understanding, he told me that one of his boys told him that somebody got beat up in a Trap Music T-shirt in one of my videos. I understood where the confusion started, because my boy has a line of clothes called Trap Wear, and I am sure people have seen us wear these shirts in videos. But this has nothing to do with T.I. [who had an album called Trap Muzik]. Trap is a word that has been used in the South for sometime, so he admitted to reacting off something what his homeboy said. He just reacted to it, without even really knowing for himself, he decided to put my name in that song [with G-Unit’s Young Buck]. That’s why he says in the song “Me getting beat down is Ludacris.” I thought to myself that it was crazy as hell, but that’s how it all started. Once you understand then you realize that it is just stupid, it started out of something really dumb.
AllHipHop.com: Crunk music is really big right now; do you feel like you are riding that new wave?
Ludacris: I am versatile, and I like doing everything whether it is hot or not, I like staying versatile with the lyricism and with the crunk. Like if you listen to any of my albums, its not like I try to top it, its just that I have every aspect of that on my album so its just in me so with that being said, I feel that crunk is the new [Miami] bass movement and I feel that its definitely not going no where it would probably change from crunk music to a different kind but it all originated form bass music. So with that being said, everything in the industry has its particular time and right now we’re kind of dominant and if you look at the South, crunk music isn’t the only thing that we have. From Outkast to Lil Jon to my self, it’s just a different perspective of that kind of music.
AllHipHop.com: Why aren’t there more rapper Republicans since because of the capitalist nature of a lot of hip hop, dudes that’s centered around money. Most rappers rode for Kerry.
Ludacris: Well I have to say that that is one good ass question. (Laughs) I would honestly say that most rappers and entertainers would say that we know about politics, but we not really into politics as much as we should be. Because we’re making a conscious effort to know that we really have a large voice and make all the fans aware and conscious of the fact of voting. I think that that is question that should be posed to a lot of people that really need to think about that. This is one of the questions where I could answer, “It’s a good ass question.” (Laughs)
AllHipHop.com: They’re saying that Jay-Z might be appointed the president of Def Jam. Any thoughts on that?
Ludacris: I mean it’s cool if he stay true as far a s retiring. Because I know as a artist and a CEO it is difficult [to separate business with artistry] so with that being said, that’s one of those hypothetical questions that I can’t really answer. But being that Jay-Z was in the industry so long, I’m pretty sure that he has a lot of wisdom and experience and I know that would know what to do if he was appointed that position.
AllHipHop.com: I’m going to ask you a couple of stupid questions. What’s your favorite possession?
Ludacris: I would say my Bentley Continental GT and I’m about to move in that motherf***er. (Laughs)
AllHipHop.com: Do you drive it?
Ludacris: Hell yea! That’s the little one, the coupe.
AllHipHop.com: Do you or did you collect anything?
Ludacris: S**t, I used to collect baseball cards as a kid. I used to collect He-Men, G.I. Joes. (Laughs)
AllHipHop.com: As a kid, what was your favorite toy?
Ludacris: The He-Man s**t really. I actually got a He-Man sample on my new album that I’m trying to get cleared.
AllHipHop.com: Barring death or tragedy, what was the worst day of your life?
Ludacris: My memory is so shot man you’d think I was 60 years old. (Thinking at length) I was about 13 years old and I fell out of a damn tree and got 11 stitches in my damn leg. I was hurt you understand?
AllHipHop.com: What was the best day of your life?
Ludacris: I would definitely say was when my daughter was born.
AllHipHop.com: How old is she?
Ludacris: She’s 3 years old.
AllHipHop.com: What’s the most interesting thing a fan as done for you, not to you?
Ludacris: Probably have a chef cook dinner for me.
AllHipHop.com: What’s your 5-year goal?
Ludacris: To change music man. When I say change music I’m trying to make history, and get on everyone’s “Top 5” list and I know that its time and I’m willing to have patience.
AllHipHop.com: What about your 10-year goal?
Ludacris: Ten year goal man? I’d probably be laid back spending money from all the investments I had in another 10 years. But I will always have some type of relation with the music as far as putting out new artists. I think that’s something that’s very important and brings me a lot of happiness.