Everybody’s crazy country cousin, Ludacris returns from the road (and all them “area codes”) with his newest joint Word of Mouf. “I try to make good albums as well as dope singles,” says 24-year old Ludacris. “The kind of music of music that people blast in their rides. It’s my goal to make the kind of music if there was no television, no radio or no street teams…you’d still know about my record. That’s what Word of Mouf is all about.”
Having crashed straight out of the red dirt landscape of Atlanta, the madcap style of Ludacris first emerged on the indie produced effort Incognegro, which sold 30,000 copies. Still, it wasn’t until the release of his triple platinum classic Back For the First Time (2000) on Def Jam South that he really got a chance to bubble. “Believe me, it’s what I had been waiting for all my life.” On his breakout singles ‘What’s Your Fantasy’ and “Southern Hospitality” this comical brother from another planet dropped his ill rhyme style into the earholes of America. “I grew-up watching Richard Pryor, The Three Stooges and Dolimite,” says Ludacris.
“I’ve always been the funny dude in my crew , so I wanted to put that humor into my lyrics.” Although still a babe in the world of rap, Ludacris has grown. “This record is the life report of my life for past year,” he says. “It’s me learning everyday, being more educated and becoming a better tapper and entertainer. Before I started working on Word of Mouf I felt like the best was yet to come. And now here it is.” Produced by the machine-man known as Timbaland, the disc’s first official single ‘Roll Out (My Business)’ is a rip-roarer that will have even old folks shaking their wrinkled thangs. “No beats motivate me faster than Tim’s,” confesses Ludacris. “I know sometimes as an entertainer, people want to know what’s going on in my life but then there are those people who just make shit up.
This song is for those rumor starters.” Word of Mouf also features the hoochie anthem ‘Area Codes’, the first single released on the multi-platinum Rush Hour 2 soundtrack. “Producer Jazze Phae is one of those dudes who’s into real funk,” says Ludacris. “We worked on another track called ‘Keep It On The Hush’ that is so soulful.” In addition, Ludacris has collaborated with Swizz Beatz (“Cry Baby”), Jagged Edge (“Freaky Things”), and 8Ball and MJG (“Hard Times”). Known on his driver’s license as Chris Bridges, the lanky rapper got his start in the business when he became a disc jockey on Atlanta’s premier hip-hop station WHTA (Hot 97). “But don’t get it twisted, I was already rapping before I even got on the air,” stresses Ludacris. “People want to think that I was a radio jock who started rapping, when really it was the other way around.” Rolling wild with his crew Disturbing the Peace- a motley posse of talented rappers and producers that includes Shawna, Little Fate, Infamous 2-0, 4-IZE, and Shondrae- Ludacris brags, “We make such a good team, because each person brings something different to the table.
But, we all wild out and live everyday as though it were our last. Believe me, if you lived next door to D.T.P., you would be knocking on the door demanding we turn down the noise.” Featured on Shondrae produced ‘Get The Fuck Back’, the only female in the crew, Shawna, has no problem hanging with the homeboys. “She’s a raw female with sex appeal, but she’s also honest and rough.”
Collaborating with his old friends Organized Noise (Outkast, Goodie Mob) was like coming home to a plate of catfish and grits. “When I was younger, I was one of those dudes who was just trying to get in where I could fit in,” remembers Ludacris. “I used to perform at open mics and talent shows. That was how I got to know Organized. Later, I was one of those studio rats hanging out at The Dungeon, always trying to get into something.” Unafraid of kicking out the jams with his extended fam, the second single ‘Saturday’ is another boogie monster waiting for the weekend. “Music is something that you’re supposed to feel in your bones, and every beat those boys create make me rattle.”
While it’s obvious that Ludacris likes to have fun as much as the next rapper, he also knows when it’s time to be serious. Produced by newcomer Jook, the aural bleakness of ‘Cold Outside’ is a straight-up reality check that is dear to Ludacris’ heart. “No one wants to go back to the lowest point in their life,” says Ludacris. I made this song so I would have a document of my struggles in the game and how far I’ve traveled.” Indeed when Ludacris says, “Rapping was my only way, but my mama told me to save it for another day/ but I got to make it ’cause it’s cold outside”, many can relate to these powerful words. With the release of Word of Mouf, the world can soon forget about learning country grammar, because Ludacris is speaking an entirely different language.
Atlanta based rapper Ludacris has caused quite a stir in his hometown. And, with the debut album, ‘Back For The First Time’, the rest of the hip-hop community will find out what ATL heads have known for awhile. Originally entitled ‘Incognegro’, ‘Back For The First Time,’ was released independently and will be re-released by media giant as the first record on its new Def Jam South imprint with additional production by Atlanta-based producers Organized Noize, Jermaine Dupri, and Timbaland.
Followers of artists like Timbaland have heard him rip the mic on guest spots. He appeared on “Phat Rabbit” from Tim’s “Life from the Bassment”. He also worked with Dallas Austin, and Jermaine Dupri. “The nickname is some I made up,” said Ludacris, aka Chris Bridges about his name. “I have a kind of split personality – part of me is calm cool and collected, while the other side is just beyond crazy. My lyrics are ludicrous – ludicrous like off the chain crazy.”
Ludacris’ musical career goes back to childhood. To infancy, in fact. Born while his parents were still in college he found himself at many house jams, soaking in the music at an age most kids are still teething. “They were always jamming to the old school stuff, like Frankie Beverly and Maze, Cameo, all that kind of music.” said Ludacris. “They used to take me to college parties and let me get out in the middle of the floor and dance for all the other students.”
His love affair with music continued into his pre-teen years. At age 12 he joined a Chicago based hip-hop outfit called the Loudmouth Hooligans. Moving to Atlanta the same year, he persued his goal with a vengeance. During his time at College Park’s Banneker High School, he started battling in the lunch room, often getting so involved in the verbal contests that he would forget to eat. Later, he started performing, showing up at talent shows, and at clubs.
“I would show up at any venue that had an open mic” he said. He eventually landed a gig on Atlanta’s then-new hip-hop station Hot 97.5 gaining a job producing the night show. Not straying from his roots, Ludacris made his mark rapping on voice over over promos. He wound up being as recognizable as some of the deejays. “I started rapping on the station promos. We did them over all of the top hits, so people got to hear me rap over tight beats.” Eventually he saved enough money to put out “Incognegro” independently, on his own Disturbing the Peace Entertainment.
Fueled by the single “What’s Your Fantasy,” which got as many as 500 spins a week on radio in some southern markets, the album moved 30,000 units in just over three months. That success caught the eye of many major labels including Def Jam South and president Scarface. After a long courtship by several labels, Ludacris decided to go with Def Jam South. A wide range of influenced show up on “Back For The First Time”. The hard hitting “U Got A Problem”, displays a braggadocious verbal performance that demonstrates Ludacris’ way with a metaphor.
On the Organized Noize produced “The Game Got Switched” he raises the bar on weak MCs. (“too many rookies/not enough pros”). Most of the album is produced by Ludacris’ in-house producer Shondre. He’s responsible for the first single “What’s You Fantasy” in which Ludacris flips rapid fire sex rhymes over Shondre’s ATL bass-influenced track (at one point he imagines getting his freak on in the Georgia Dome during a Falcons game). Now that he has hooked up with the most famous brand name in the hip=hop record industry, Ludacris has big plans for his career – pushing the artists signed to his production company.
“I have artists that I want to build up – Fate Wilson, 4IZ, and Infamous 20. My ultimate goal is to have a successful record company, and this recording career is helping me take things to the next level.”