Ludacris is an American rapper, actor and entrepreneur who first achieved fame as a “Dirty South” rapper, before gaining mainstream success. He was born Christopher Brian Bridges on September 11, 1977 in Champaign, Illinois. He began rapping as a child and wrote his first rap song at the age of 9 when he moved to Atlanta. At the age of 12 he joined an amateur rap group. He graduated from high school in Atlanta, Georgia in 1995 and later studied music management for two years at Georgia State University. Ludacris began as an intern and then a DJ at a local radio station where he adopted the name “Chris Lova Lova”. He collaborated with Timbaland on the song “Phat Rabbit” from his album “Tim’s Bio: Life from da Bassment” which became a prominent hit.
In 1998, Ludacris recorded his debut album “Incognegro” which he produced with his own funds and released on his own label “Disturbing tha Peace”. Timbaland also collaborated on the album’s production, and it sold about 50,000 copies. The single “What’s Your Fantasy” became a hit and attracted several labels to sign him. Ludacris finally chose Def Jam Records and released a remixed version of his first album in 2000, featuring the single “Phat Rabbit” that he had earlier collaborated with Timbaland on. The album was renamed “Back For The First Time” and it became a hit on both radio and television, reaching #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200. The success single from this album was “Southern Hospitality” and was popularly aired on MTV and MTV2.
Ludacris’s third album, titled “Word of Mouf” was released in 2001. The lead single from this album was produced by Timbaland and titled “Rollout (My Business)”. It was nominated for a 2002 Grammy Award. Ludacris’s fourth album was titled “Chicken-n-Beer” and included the song “Stand Up” produced by Kanye West, which became one of his biggest mainstream hits to date. His next album, “The Red Light District” was released in 2004 which was noted for being more mature, and a departure from his usual style. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and included the hit singles “Get Back” and “Number One Spot”. The album “Release Therapy” was released in 2006, from which the single “Money Maker” featuring Pharrell Williams became a No. 1 hit. His other albums include “Theater of the Mind” which was released in 2008 and debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, and “Battle of the Sexes” released in 2010 and certified gold.
Ludacris has sometimes been criticized for the violent and overtly sexual nature of his lyrics with some of his songs being banned from radio and television. He was hired for Pepsi advertisements but television host Bill O’Reilly criticized Pepsi for hiring Ludacris as he helped to glamorize a life of drugs, violence and profanity with his song lyrics. Pepsi subsequently fired Ludacris but Def Jam label founder Russell Simmons counter criticized Pepsi for hiring Ozzy Osbourne, who was known for his explicit lyrics, profanity and violence. To hush up the controversy, Pepsi agreed to donate $3 million to the “Ludacris foundation” and other charities and let Ludacris keep any money he had been paid for earlier advertisements. Ludacris has also been criticized for his politically controversial song “Politics As Usual” in which he makes jabs at Jesse Jackson, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Geroge W. Bush.
Ludacris has appeared in several Hollywood movies including the Best Picture Oscar winning film “Crash” released in 2008 and several other major motion pictures like RocknRolla, American Hustle and the Fast and Furious films. He has also appeared on television shows such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Simpsons and the American singing competition Rising Star as an expert judge. He has won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for Usher’s hit single “Yeah!”.