Growing up in a house where his parents valued music, Ludacris soaked in every note and set a course with the musical fates from an early age. Whether he struck gold or just put the phat rhymes down for his own, and a few fans, enjoyment his future had been set. The open mics and the school lunchroom verbal chess battles only fueled his fire. While working for Atlanta's then hip-hop radio station 97.5 as a producer for the night show he started to rap on voice over promos for the station. His local fame started to take shape. With his confidence growing he independently produced his first album Incognergro which spawned a minor hit in "What's Your Fantasy" in southern markets. Major label Def Jam South took notice.
Now multi-platinum with Word of Mouf and a couple of Grammy nominations, Ludacris has nearly reached his pinnacle. His dream is to own his own label and produce some of the hottest hip-hop acts yet to be seen. The rest is the beginning of Ludacris' history.
Livewire's Phil Bonyata got the chance to shoot the shit with the rhyme master last night.
Livewire: Do you love doing interviews?
Ludacris: I'm here for you man.
Livewire: Are you disappointed that Word of Mouf did not win best Rap Album at this year's Grammys?
Ludacris: I can't say that I'm not disappointed. I tell you I'm happy to have been nominated for the Grammy because there's a lot of extra publicity and press just being nominated. So, ya know, I'm very happy just to have been nominated.
Livewire: Is your upcoming album Chicken & Beer an extension of Word of Mouf or is your rap moving in a new direction?
Ludacris: My rap is always moving in a new direction and it always will be. You have to satisfy the core audience that I have and then move on and show my progression and growth also. There is always going to be growth. I'm going to grow each and every day and learn more and, you know, grow as an individual and so will my music. Music changes each and every day.
Livewire: How would you describe your music to a 70 year old white male who has never heard of rap music?
Ludacris: Just as my name implies - Ludacris - that's how my music is as long as they understand that Ludacris means crazy and wild and ridiculous, that is exactly how I would explain it to them. It's looking for a little fun in their lives.
Livewire: Who influenced your rhymes?
Ludacris: I've been influenced by many people especially the Ghetto Boys, Uncle Scarface, which is the president of Def Jam. People like 8 Ball and Outkast to name a few. A lot of movies influence me. I like to watch comedians for a laugh. I get a lot out of television and other entertainment has influenced me and my rap style.
Livewire: What's the state of rap music today?
Ludacris: The state of rap music is in a recession right now or damn near. It's in a state of emergency, man. I mean financially because of all the bootlegging and stuff going on, but I'm glad it's starting to bring it back to the streets. There's a good side to it and a bad side. The bad side is that financially we're hurtin' a little bit. We have to control the bootlegging over the internet and on the computer and at the same time it's getting more hardcore a lot grittier and grimier. Especially after September 11th when the world went into a recession.
Livewire: How does the record industry stop the bootlegging?
Ludacris: I think more incentives when you purchase an album in a store like those DVD extras. Also, I understand that they're trying to put a block on copying and they're coming out with devices and new inventions to actually put blocks on music. Or also to buy singles off the internet for 99 cents. Things of that nature. There's a lot of different ones out there.
Livewire: Is Eminem a friend?
Ludacris: Definitely. I went on tour with him and I think he's a great person and a great artist. He motivates me. I definitely like his music.
Livewire: Tell me about your childhood.
Ludacris: Man, it was all 'bout music. I used to wakeup everyday listening to music that my parents would put on and that's what got me so interested. I loved the whole aspect of entertaining. I grew up on James Brown, RUN D.M.C., Fat Boys, ya know. I wrote my first rhyme when I was like nine years old. Then I would do demo tape after demo tape and I've been in the studio ever since.
Livewire: When's the last time you got laid?
Ludacris: The last time I got laid was last night.
Livewire: When's the next time?
Ludacris: I don't know the next time maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow - who knows. Can't guarantee ya until it happens.
Livewire: If you're stranded on a deserted isle what famous woman would you choose as your mate?
Ludacris: I would have to choose someone like Oprah. Because man, I'm not good with catchin' food and I think she would be the person to get shit and cook it. I think food is more important than sex. The answer you're looking for is the amazing looking woman, but no I want to survive. I want to eat. With Oprah we be eatin' good, so I can get off the island.
Livewire: Tell me something crazy that's recently happened to Ludacris.
Ludacris: Damn, I got this 4 wheeler and I broke it within 5 minutes. I went up the hill and one of the tires landed on a tree and I broke it right away.
Livewire: Is it all drugs and and naked women after each show?
Ludacris: It used to be when you first get started, but then eventually it kinda gets old and you tire of it. You feel like you've been there done that. Now, I want to be more careful. We narrowed it down - put it that way. If you call marijuana and alcohol drugs, which they are, than I do drugs.
Livewire: What does Ludacris do to prepare for a show?
Ludacris: I just relax, man. Because when the show starts that's a whole lotta energy. I also say a prayer with my group before we go onstage.
Livewire: Tell me about the Ludacris Foundation.
Ludacris: The Ludacris Foundation is a foundation set-up to help kids to help themselves. We've done a number of different projects, not only in the hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, but everywhere. We've done projects from feeding the homeless to rehabilitative hospitals and visiting children to raising money for good causes like the boys and girls clubs. Definitely during the holidays we help to feed families during Thanksgiving and sponsoring families for Christmas. That's what its all about - giving back to the community.
Livewire: What do you have in store for your fans for the rest of the tour?
Ludacris: A concert that's going to be worth their money because I feel like these days people pay a lot of money to do something and they're going to feel like they got their money's worth. That's what I have in store for them. They're going to have a great time!
Live Review - Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee, Feb. 13, 2003