|Next Project:||Theater of the Mind (Nov. 24)|
|Twitter:||Ludacris on Twitter|
In the hip hop game, much has been made of the top-notch emcee’s ability to paint word-pictures so vivid that they make listeners feel as if they are enjoying not just a pop song but a full-blown cinematic masterpiece. From Lil’ Weezy, who has claimed an ability to “spit movies like a VCR,” to Ice Cube, who parlayed rap stardom into a series of tremendous successes as a thespian, rap artists today think of film as both a conceptual jumping-off point for hot rhymes and a career move that can result in considerable expansion of one’s sphere of influence. Most hip hop heads, however, would agree that the man most uniquely suited to bring these two art forms into ear and eye-pleasing harmony is Chris “Ludacris” Bridges.
With performances in high-profile films like 2004’s Crash and the recent Max Payne under his belt, Luda has set out to bring the silver screen to the earbuds of listeners everywhere with his sixth studio album, Theater of the Mind. Thus far, the reviews have been fantastic; records like “I Do It for Hip Hop” featuring Jay-Z and Nas, and latest single “One More Drink” with T-Pain have fans in and out of the Booth hotly anticipating the feature presentation, which drops next Monday, November 24th.
In an exclusive interview with our very own DJ “Z,” Ludacris steps inside the DJ Booth to discuss his busy schedule, his eco-friendly vehicle of choice, and why, at the end of the day, he can still say, “I Do It for Hip Hop.”
Listen to the Interview
Ludacris Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a very busy man. When he isn’t starring in major motion pictures, running a top-tier record label, or overseeing the operations of a charitable foundation, he is actively promoting the release of next week’s highly-anticipated new studio album, Theater of the Mind. Please welcome Ludacris – how you doin’?
Ludacris: What’s goin’ on, my friend?
DJ Booth: Not much, my man – I’m just sittin’ back and watching you do all these big things.
Ludacris: [laughs] Well, you know, in a recession you’ve got to have more than one job; it’s all about hustlin’ and grindin’. I’m definitely takin’ it back for my first love. This is album number six for me, so I’m feelin’ damn good about it.
DJ Booth: President-Elect Barack Obama, he only managed a few hours of sleep during his two-year-plus campaign for office. Now, I’m pretty sure that your daily list of responsibilities has had a similar effect on your ability to get some shut-eye, so what are you averaging these days? Two, three hours a night?
Ludacris: Man, yeah, I probably would average about four or five. You’ve still gotta get in a little sleep in – it’s important – but like I said, every day’s different, so it’s definitely sporadic.
DJ Booth: Do you ever feel like, if you sleep an extra two or three hours, or just lounge around in your PJs, those hours that you’re not grinding, someone else is going to take advantage of?
Ludacris: The early bird always gets the worm; somebody’s always gonna take advantage of the time that you don’t use, no matter if they’re in your same genre or not – that’s how you’ve got to look at it. But again, you do need to make sure your body gets enough sleep in order to do the damn things that you do, so life is all about balance, my friend, and that’s what I’m about.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. Luda, in several of the interviews that you’ve given over the past few months, you’ve stressed your loyalty to music over Hollywood. Loyalty, though, only goes so far if it begins to fail you financially, so what remains the key motivator behind your musical drive?
Ludacris: The key motivator is just my passion, it’s just what I love to do. That’s basically what it comes down to, man. When I first started off, I was doin’ it for the passion, I was doin’ it for the love. So, realistically speaking, if I wanted to, financially, I’m good; I could just stop doin’ music, but I refuse to do that, just because I love what I do, and I’m livin’ out my dream, and I continue to make people proud, and I have so many more creative ideas that I need to get out – that’s why music is still my number one love.
DJ Booth: If there was absolutely no more money to be made in music, would you still continue to record?
DJ Booth: Okay, that’s the answer I was hopin’ you would give me.
Ludacris: Without question.
DJ Booth: This past September, Ice Cube was in my hometown of Chicago on his Raw Footage tour, and, in between his sets, he proclaimed, “I am sick of people asking me when I’m going to stop rapping.” So, have you reached a point similar to Cube, who does both records and movies, where you feel as though people expect you to transition away from music?
Ludacris: People expect me to, I think, just because a lot of other people have done that, like Will Smith and Queen Latifah and Cube – all of them are still doin’ music, but they don’t do it as much as they’re doin’ film right now, so I think that just because I’ve been accepted in Hollywood and done some pretty good movie projects, that they expect me to do the same thing.
DJ Booth: The reason we’ve got you on the phone is, of course, is because of next Monday, your brand new album, Theater of the Mind‘s gonna be available. You moved it up a day to capitalize on that pre-Thanksgtiving shopping bonanza, so, considering the release date change and the impending holiday, Luda, what are you most thankful for this holiday season?
Ludacris: Man, I’m thankful for havin’ my family, and bein’ able to provide for my family; I think that’s the number one thing about bein’ an artist and makin’ money, and bein’ successful, is that you’re able to provide for your mom, for my daughter, all those different things, provide jobs for friends and family – it’s self-contained, a unit. So that’s what I’m thankful for. Thanksgiving is all about family, so it reminds me of how much I love what I’m doin’.
DJ Booth: Family and great food. The Internet’s buzzing, Luda, over two records in particular off the new project: “Last of a Dying Breed,” featuring Lil’ Wayne, and “I Do It for Hip Hop,” which we just recently featured, with Jay-Z, and Nas. Let’s dissect both concepts. First, if you are the last of a dying breed, what does the future of hip hop look like?
Ludacris: If we’re the last of a dying breed, man, the future of hip hop, it looks dim if we don’t get ourselves together. But it all depends – everybody’s opinion of what an emcee is is a little bit different, so I’m just saying, in my opinion, as far as an emcee being somebody who can actually move the crowd, I feel like there’s not that many people out there who can do it.
DJ Booth: Luda, how can this industry, then, go about getting themselves together, to ensure that you and anyone else is not the last of a dying breed?
Ludacris: People puttin’ a little more thought into their music sometimes, and definitely comin’ out with better projects, as opposed to most of the fanbase wanting to go purchase one or two songs off of someone’s album. Just better live performances, all of these different things.
DJ Booth: In “I Do It for Hip Hop,” you explain your motives for rapping. When you first broke into this industry, were those motives the same as they are right now?
Ludacris: Yeah, they were, and that kinda goes back to the first question you were asking me. That’s why I say “I Do It for Hip Hop.” It’s nice to have good things, and it’s nice to have money, but, at the end of the day, what I really do it for is hip hop music, and just that feeling that people get.
DJ Booth: Two weeks ago, Q-Tip joined me inside the DJ Booth, and we played a game called title Mad-Libs. I don’t think he had much fun with it, but we’re going to try it another time around, and I hope it runs much smoother. Luda, I’m gonna use the titles of three of your records on Theater of the Mind, and we’re gonna spin them into random questions. All you need to do is fill in the blanks – cool?
DJ Booth: If I could only indulge in “One More Drink” for the rest of my life, I would sip on [blank]?
Ludacris: Jack Daniels.
DJ Booth: With Coke, or just straight?
Ludacris: Straight, no chaser!
DJ Booth: On the rocks?
DJ Booth: While growing up, my mother always told me, “I ‘Wish You Would’ [blank]?”
Ludacris: [laughs] “Clean your room!”
DJ Booth: Besides rapping, I have to admit that, secretly, I am the “Undisputed” champion of [blank]?
DJ Booth: There you go! Ladies, it’s not a secret anymore!
Ludacris: Thank you, my friend.
DJ Booth: [laughs] You’re welcome. On the cover of your album, there are 18 Ludas inside of the theater, each watching Theater of the Mind differently. When listeners ingest this piece of audio cinema next week, what one emotion do you think they’ll express once they’ve heard it?
Ludacris: I think satisfaction.
DJ Booth: Where does this album rank on your, “Damn, I feel accomplished,” list?
Ludacris: Man, all the way at the top, definitely.
DJ Booth: Okay, last question. I’ll let you bounce after this one. We’re in the midst of a recession, we’ve got GM, Ford, Chrysler all nearing bankruptcy – how can an artist like yourself help stimulate the dying auto industry, so that it boosts the economy and will allow you to continue to travel in style?
Ludacris: I just bought a Tahoe hybrid; I would encourage everybody out there to try and get a hybrid; it helps you save gas and all that good stuff. So that’s what I’m doing: leading by example. There you have it.
DJ Booth: And it still looks good, right?
Ludacris: Yes, sir.
DJ Booth: Luda, go ahead and give everybody a website or a MySpace page, something so they can find out more about the brand-new album out in stores next week.
DJ Booth: Luda, I appreciate your time greatly – thank you so much.
Ludacris: Thank you, man.