Nowadays, it seems pop-stars realize how pervasive their culture and influence has become. The days when artists simply stuck to their trade are waning, and in their place, a new generation of stars focused on shining the floodlight of their celebrity in as many directions as possible have emerged. From record labels and restaurants, to charitable organization, pop-stars cash in their fame as many ways as possible. Just think of P. Diddy’s corporation for hip hop domination, the “Bad Boy World Empire Group.” But now, there’s a new artist about to emerge as a contender to Diddy’s kingdom.
The so-called “Mouf of the South,” Ludacris, along with his formidable Disturbing tha Peace crew, spit their slanted Southern slurs all across television, radio, and film. After signing St. Louis styled Chingy and on the verge of releasing a new album himself, Ludacris’s fame has reached a critical phase. He now has an opportunity to prove his staying power as a mainstream hip hop innovator and music business mogul.
And on his album due out October 7th, titled Chicken and Beer, Luda returns with his over-the-top haughtiness and rhyme scheme, something he considers to be decidedly Southern. Recently, the daze had a chance to catch up with the man himself over the phone. The interview follows.
daze: What makes this new album different from your previous albums?
Ludacris: As time goes on, I just feel like it gets better and better with more versatility; it’s just another chapter to my writing. I’m telling some stories on this one. It’s pretty much the same Ludacris to satisfy the core of fans and also trying some new things. And that’s what music is all about: being innovative and reinventing myself each and every time. So, you could say this is the same and different Ludacris.
daze: Some have called the new Southern style of rapping hip-hop’s new sound. How would you say West Coast or East Coast differs from the Southern style?
Luda: I think the Southern style has a sound of its own, cause music is all about emotion, and I feel the Southern sound is just really, really aggressive. When I say aggressive, you hear a lot of music that motivates you to damn near want to punch someone, riot inducing music, whatever. You hear a lot more live instrumentation and production … So whether it’s the bounce feel or whatever, I just feel the South has its own particular sound.
daze: Who would say are your top three influences?
Luda: I would say LL Cool J, Scarface, and Jay-Z.
daze: You’re the CEO of your own Disturbing tha Peace label, you got your movie career, and with the recent addition of Chingy to your music label, do you think that eventually you’ll go more towards the business side of the industry?
Luda: It’s way too early in my career to answer that question. I’m all about the music; I’m not thinking about quitting anytime soon. Being a label owner and an artist at the same time is enough for me, I’m nowhere near that other stuff.
daze: Do you think Chingy will carry the label or do you have more upcoming artists?
Luda: There are a lot more up and coming artists. Just because Chingy is the first one to break out, I don’t think there is any room to say he is the one to carry the label because we have other artists coming. I don’t think any one artist should ever carry any label, it should be a lot of different talent … to balance it all out.
daze: What exactly was your inspiration for your latest album? Could you point to a few items besides the two mentioned in the title, chicken and beer that is?
Luda: The songs on this album, there’s nothing in particular that they are inspired by. I’m always a self-motivated individual. Just as much in the first two albums, I just make songs ’cause I love what I do. But yea, music is about emotion as I was saying before, and some songs are based on my life and where I’m at in my life now, and some songs are based on trying to have fun, and some songs are based on women — the same as other albums. It’s just that if I take anything to new heights, it’s talking about how life can be hard sometimes, and taking a new twist and giving my life story in a new way. So basically, looking back on all the things I’ve done and narrating things like that, to answer your question.
daze: What do you love about hip hop?
Luda: I love that it changes every day. You have to keep yourself afloat of the times, in order to stay grounded in. Some people hate the fact that hip hop changes everyday, and they just want it to be a certain way. As an individual you don’t have to change, but you kind of have to change with the times as far as music is concerned.
daze: Do you have any guests on this album?
Luda: Just to name a few, of course the Disturbing tha Peace crew, including Chingy, I-20, Lil’ Fate. Shanna, and Tity Boi, who are all my artists. Then Snoop Dogg is on there, Eightball, and Jay-Z as well.
daze: How do you think your experience at Georgia State University helped you?
Luda: To be real with you, I didn’t graduate. I kind of had to leave college in the height of the success of being with the record company, but I think I learned a lot. I was studying music management, so as far a marketing and things like that are concerned I learned a lot. I definitely think a college education is important. It forces you to think on your own; it really forces you to think as an individual.
daze: Was it through college that you landed the internship at the Atlanta radio Station 97.5?
Luda: No, that had nothing to do with it. Though I would definitely say me being at the radio station helped me out a lot more than being at Georgia State. You know, I think experience is the best teacher. It was a lot of hands on things, learning a lot of political stuff about the business, because so many record executives and artists and people from the industry were coming through the radio station every day.
Archived article by Andrew Gilman