March 2, 2009

Backstage at Barton

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It’s not easy being a rap superstar, and it’s even harder being an award-winning thespian. So maybe Ludacris had a lot on his mind when The Sun sat down with him on Saturday night. Slightly distracted and eager to move on, the Mouf of the South indulged us for seven minutes in his “dressing room” — an ROTC classroom replete with whiteboards and fluorescent lights — just before he jumped on stage. We talked about politics and the future of rap, the good old college days and some character named Girl Talk. Plus, we got to brush by Shawnna. She’s really hot.

The Sun: When did you get into town?
Ludacris: Literally about two hours ago.
Sun: What do you think of Ithaca?
L: I love Ithaca, the crowd is always crazy. It’s a good crowd, it’s good people.
Sun: Do you like playing colleges?
L: Absolutely, man. They like to have fun, especially on the weekends. Ya’ll are all stressed out with school and so when the weekend comes it’s time to party, it’s time to have just a blast. So, of course, I love doing college crowds.
Sun: You spent time at Georgia State University. How did you like that?
L: It was cool man, I was working at the radio station at the same time, so it was kind of back and forth … They had a music industry course that I took there, [I] majored in business. I didn’t get to finish, but hopefully one day I can.
Sun: What did college do for your music?
L: College experience: like I said, I didn’t have that much of one. [But it] put me in that real energetic, emotional mindset of just always realizing not to take life too serious — to always focus, to always work hard, but at the same, you work hard, you play hard.
Sun: You mentioned you were a D.J. in college. What do you think of D.J.s like Girl Talk sampling your music?
L: Who?
Sun: Girl Talk.
L: I didn’t know that, but tell him I say thanks … I appreciate anybody sampling my music.
Sun: What do you feel about how the music industry is changing — people making music on their laptops and downloading music from the Internet?
L: For new artists it can be a good thing, because it can get them more exposure, but if you’re an established artist … it can definitely hurt. As long as you continue to put out good music, people are going to support you.
Sun: You’re here tonight with Shawnna. How’s your Battle of the Sexes album with her coming along?
L: It’s almost done. Definitely coming this year, probably around August or September. [The] first single will be in couple of weeks.
Sun: And you’ve got a film coming out?
L: The film’s called Game, it’s with Gerard Butler from 300: action, futuristic, sci-fi, all of that good stuff.
Sun: How do you split your time between rapping and acting?
L: It’s two separate mindsets. I concentrate on one at a time. It’s very hard to do both at the same time because I take both of them really serious. Music is still my number one love. I’m just trying to get my feet wet in acting so that later on in life I can continue pursuing it, but I’m still one hundred percent focused on music right now.
Sun: Barack Obama has said that he has your music on his iPod. What will it do for hip-hop to have a rap fan in the Oval Office?
L: I think rappers are taking more responsibility and trying to do more charity work and things of that nature. The most important thing that Barack said to me was that he can’t do it all by himself.
Sun: You’re famous as the “Mouf of the South.” How would you characterize the regional differences within rap music?
L: I represent the South, but I listen to all kinds of music, so I feel like I’m a fan of all the hip-hop. And I think that’s displayed in my music. But how do I feel about it? Different sounds come from different regions. People are definitely listening to a certain sound. Say the South has a lot more bass and instrumentation and up North they usually tend to use more samples and things of that nature. And it just depends on what you like. If you try to blend them all together, you have all the elements, and I think that’s a good thing, that’s where I come from.
Sun: What do you see as the future of hip-hop?
L: If I had to say the future, I would just say YouTube and things like are the new way of the new of displaying your demo. So a lot more independent artists and people making names for themselves, and I think that’s a good thing. The more you do on your own, the more successful of an artist I think you’re gonna be. It could be anybody.
Sun: Who are some of your favorite young artists today?
L: I would definitely say Block Xchange out of Chicago, a group called Playaz Circle — those are some of my favorites right there. Shawnna’s one of my favorites.
Sun: What are you doing after the show tonight?
L: Getting back on my plane and flying back to Atlanta, Ga.