The Ludicrous Life Of Ludacris
Ludacris is one of the most influential rappers of all time, patenting the “Dirty South” sound alongside Big Boy, Andre 3000 and OutKast. In his decades in the business, he’s amassed Grammy Awards, MTV Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. He’s topped Forbes lists and transitioned to an actor in one of the most successful action movie franchises of all time. Here is his story, from his meteoric rise to fame to his most personal struggles.
Growing Up In Atlanta
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Ludacris was born Christopher Brian Bridges on September 11, 1977, from two parents who were college students. They split when he was little, but he didn’t have a turbulent upbringing until moving to Atlanta. Ludacris remained on good terms with both his mother and father throughout his entire life. At 12 years old, he moved to Atlanta. This forced him to quit his rap group Loudmouth Hooligans, but his career was far from over.
His Mother Was His Roommate
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If you think sharing a bedroom with a parent in college is rough, that was Ludacris’ reality. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the star lived in a single room with his mother in someone else’s house when they first moved to Atlanta. They were always poor, and the neighborhoods he grew up in were tough. Though he watched many of his friends fall into a life of drugs and crime, Ludacris never faltered.
According to Ludacris, his mother was strict and taught him the basics of saving money. Because of her attentive parenting, Ludacris stayed in school and out of trouble. While in school, he started performing at talent shows and began developing his craft.
Luda’s First Brush With FameChaka Zulu, Sho Dog, Ludacris and Russell Simmons during Power Summit Presents Def Jam Annual Awards Dinner – September 30, 2005 at Westin Hotel in Freeport, Bahamas. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
Photo credits: Johnny Nunez / WireImage / Getty Images
Ludacris was about 21 years old when he finally got his first brush with fame. He contributed a guest verse on Timbaland’s first album Tim’s Bio: Life from Da Basement. During this time, the rapper was working with Jermain Dupri, Bangladesh, and Organized Noise on his debut Icognegro.
Though the ’90s were a time where the record industry was booming, and artists regularly sold millions of copies in the first week, Luda decided to take his career into his own hands. This was bold. He released his debut on Disturbing Tha Peace, his very own label. The album didn’t sell well, but Luda trucked on.
Ludacris Signs To Def Jam And Pens His Pen Name
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In the late 90s, Ludacris was working as a DJ at renowned rap station Hot 97.5 as Chris Lova Lova. By 2000, his days at the radio station were behind him because he signed a deal with Def Jam Records. His debut Back for the First Time included songs from his initial self-release but wasn’t subject to the same poor sales. Instead, it skyrocketed to No. 4 on the Billboard 200, spawning the career defining singles “Southern Hospitality” and “What’s Your Fantasy.”
Ludacris admitted that he came up with his iconic name because he felt like he had two personalities. There was a side of him that was ridiculous and a side that was ludicrous.
Ludacris Sets Up A Charity With His Mom
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In 2001, Ludacris and his mother joined forces to launch the Ludacris Foundation. Its primary goal was to inspire youth by promoting leadership, education, and healthy lifestyles – all the things Ludacris’ mom did to foster her son’s success.
For the last decade, Ludacris and Usher have been hosting a LudaDay Weekend where the two rappers and numerous A-list pals bowl with fans. Though this is the charity’s largest event, Ludacris regularly manages to pull in pretty significant sums year-round. In 2015, he raised a cool $250,000 to give back to Atlanta’s youngest generation.
Word Of Mouf Is That Luda Likes Driving Fast Cars
Photo credits: Universal Pictures
In 2001, The Fast and the Furious launched their long-running action franchise. In 2018, we’ve got 10 films and an animated series in the pipeline. It’s slowly but steadily become one of the highest-grossing movie franchises of all time, but way back when it started, it took a chance on an unknown actor named Ludacris.
The year The Fast and the Furious introduced us to Vin Diesel’s iconic bald head, Ludacris didn’t have any acting credits to his name other than a few music videos. He had just released his next studio album Word of Mouf and was nominated Grammy for “Rollout (My Business)” in 2002. This album was arguably his most recognizable, including songs like “Saturday (Oooh Oooh) ” and “Area Codes,” which was featured in The Fast and the Furious film. This is where Luda got his very first start in acting.
Ludacris Makes A Name For Himself As An Actor
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While Word of Mouf was racking up over 3 million in sales, 2 Fast 2 Furious was already in the pipeline. Luda penned the track “Act a Fool” for the film’s soundtrack. This time, rather than just contributing to the musical side of things, Ludacris got his first acting gig outside of the music industry. After Ja Rule turned down the role of Tej, producers gave it to the rapper who’s now been featured in half of the Fast and Furious films.
After his work with 2 Fast 2 Furious, Ludacris was able to build a successful acting career. He had roles in Crash, Hustle & Flow, Law & Order: SVU, and Ride. He also tested out his skills as a voice actor in 2018’s upcoming Show Dogs. Ludacris uses his given name Chris Bridges for his acting work.
Will The Real “Stand Up” Please Stand Up?
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Ludacris took a break from music while filming 2 Fast 2 Furious. He released the album Chicken-N-Beer that same year but struggled to find popularity (despite the fact that it had a totally fire Snoop Dogg spot). Had his career peaked? Nope.
In the fall of that year, the rapper released the Kanye West-produced “Stand Up” as a single which became one of his biggest mainstream hits. The only issue is that a small New Jersey group called I.O.F. thought the rapper ripped them off. The band took Ludacris to court on the grounds of copyright infringement. In 2006, the case was thrown out.
Luda’s First GrammyDre and Big Boi of Outkast during Outkast, Ludacris and Foxy Brown in Concert at Madison Square Garden at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Photo credits: James Devaney / WireImage / Getty Images
2004’s The Red Light District was a triumph for Ludacris who snagged Nas and DMX for some guest spots. The album skyrocketed to No. 1 and Ludacris finally won his first Grammy in 2005. Up until this point, the rapper had been nominated over a dozen times but had lost every year.
This was the first Grammy in Ludacris’ string of successes. He snagged two more in 2007 for “Money Maker” and Release Therapy. This was Ludacris’ peak, and since then, his sales have declined, but his influence — and new business ventures — are flourishing.
Ludacris Slapped His Name On Some Ludicrous Products
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Ludacris always had a unique sense of fashion, and he took this to the streets with a campaign for Puma. In 2006, Luda released three limited-edition “Clyde x Luda” sneakers. His photo was slapped on the heel of the insole with DTP, a nod to his DIY label Disturbing the Peace.
Luda’s sneaker collab was a slam-dunk but his foray into electronics was questionable. The artist released a line of headphones called “Soul By Ludacris” with Soul Electronics. In a world filled dominated by Beats By Dre, they never really took off.
Bill O’Reilly Thought Ludacris’ Lyrics Disrespected Women And Called For A Boycott
Photo credits: Fox
Luda’s claim to fame is his lyrics. They’re sometimes comedic, delivering plenty of biting quips and punchlines. Sometimes they err on raunchy and violent, which is supposedly why Bill O’Reilly isn’t a fan. In 2002, the former Fox News host called for a Ludacris boycott because he felt like his lyrics glamorized a “life of guns, violence, drugs and disrespect of women” (as if Bill O’Reilly is the arbiter of respecting women after numerous sexual harassment scandals). After O’Reilly’s report, PepsiCo dropped Ludacris’ endorsement. What happened next was, frankly, pretty ludicrous.
The Pepsi Brawl Of 2002
Photo credits: PepsiCo
Ludacris isn’t someone to take an assault on his career lightly, nor is the group of talented friends that surround him. Shortly after Ludacris lost his Pepsi endorsement deal, Russell Simmons and his hip-hop action summit decided they would boycott the brand. Why? They hired Ozzy Osbourne, who’s known for shouting profanities on stage and biting the heads of flying rodents. Hypocritical much?
PepsiCo was so threatened at the idea of being shunned by the hip-hop community that they donated $3 million to numerous inner city charities, including Ludacris’ foundation. Ludacris loved the O’Reilly-Pepsi drama and used it for fodder in the songs “Hoes in my Room” and “Blow It Out.” He even threw copies of O’Reilly’s book into a dumpster on The New Tom Green Show.
All Star Rapper Beef – Delicious!
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In the early ’00s, Ludacris had some pretty terrible beef with T.I. that probably could have been avoided had T.I. avoided making assumptions. It all started when T.I. thought someone in Ludacris’ music video for “I-20” was wearing a shirt that said “Trap Muzik,” the name of T.I.’s album. The man in the music video was being beaten, but his shirt just said “Trap House.” This wasn’t a problem until the two rappers had to work together.
In collaboration with Young Buck and G-Unit, both Ludacris and T.I. were asked to contribute a verse on “Stomp.” T.I. rapped “Me gettin’ beat down? That’s ludicrous,” which Young Buck thought was an insult to Luda. Young Buck told Ludacris about the line, and in turn, Luda rapped an insult right back. T.I.’s label insisted Luda change the line before it was released, but he refused. Instead, he was replaced by G-Unit in the final version.
Let’s Get Physical
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Luda’s beef with T.I. eventually took a physical turn in the summer of 2007. In a Warner Music Group luncheon, T.I. swung at Ludacris’ manager Chaka Zulu. Apparently, T.I. punched and choked him before a full-on brawl ensued. Later that year, T.I. received a BET Award for Best Hip Hop Artist and apologized during his acceptance speech. Ludacris apparently accepted the apology, and the camera panned him chuckling during the live broadcast.
The pair went on to collaborate for their respective sixth studio albums. T.I. rapped on Luda’s Theater of the Mind and Luda rapped on T.I.’s Paper Trail.
Ludacris Called The President Mentally Handicapped And People Were Pretty Angry
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Ludacris stirs up drama like it’s his job – and it sort of is. Any good rapper revels in controversy, and in 2008, it was the same stuff but a different year. This year, Ludacris took a blow at President Bush in his song “Politics as Usual.” He rapped, “Yeah, I said it, ‘cuz Bush is mentally handicapped” and “you the worst of all 43 presidents” (if only he could see into the future).
In addition to Bush, the rapper spouted off a few lines about other politicians including saying John McCain didn’t “belong in any chair unless he’s paralyzed” and calming Hillary Clinton was “irrelevant” (again, if only he had a crystal ball).
Baby Mama Drama
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In 2014, TMZ published a story alleging that Ludacris fathered a child with Tamika Fuller. Apparently, he filed court documents to cap child support to less than $1,700 per month. Fuller was less than pleased and fired back claiming that Luda spends more money on his pets than his children (which allegedly amounted to $5,000 per pet per month). That’s certainly a bit excessive.
Of course, Luda wasn’t thrilled with Tamika’s allegations, so he tried to put a gag order on his baby mama. She asked for a car in exchange for the trouble (but it’s not clear if Luda gave her the car).
A Secret Marriage?
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Amidst his baby mama drama with Tamika Fuller, Ludacris reportedly got married to his longtime girlfriend Eudoxie Mbouguiengue, who he started dating in 2009. Even though he had impregnated Tamika while the pair was together, it was all water under the bridge. They eloped the same day they got engaged, and she initially supported Tamika’s pleas for child support – at least according to TMZ. Then, things got ugly.
Tamika started slandering Eudoxie on her Instagram account, and claimed Luda hadn’t even bothered to meet his newborn daughter Cia Bella. It came out that she refused the new car because she was so angry – but things sunk to new lows when Tamika took it to court.
Ludacris Embarked In A Nasty Custody Battle
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In 2015, Ludacris took Fuller to court in an attempt to get custody of his daughter. The legal battle lasted for months, with each parent claiming they should get sole custody. Fuller argued that Ludacris tried to convince her to get an abortion and attempted to pay her $10k to get rid of their daughter.
Eventually, courts awarded Luda with primary custody of Cia Bella. Fuller appealed, but was denied. Ludacris went back to the court in July of that year requesting a restraining order from Fuller, claiming she was breaking the terms of their custody. He even accused her of selling pictures of their kids to gossip websites.
Ludacris’ Battle Continues With False Child Abuse Claims
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Ludacris spent the better part of 2016 in court battling for custody against Fuller. According to the rapper, Fuller called the Department of Family and Children Services to file a false report against him after Cia Bella had a mild rash. Fuller claimed these were bruises and abrasions and a temporary safety plan was put into place that prohibited Cia Bella from returning to Ludacris’ home. Fuller also claimed that Ludacris denied her visitation and refused to let her talk to the child on the phone. The Douglas County DFCS later closed the case.
Ludacris eventually settled with Fuller and paid her an undisclosed sum of money. She claimed she would continue to use the cash to battle him for custody.
Chicken-N-Beer Comes To Life With A New Restaurant
Photo credits: Def Jam South
Ludacris may be known for his music, but in 2016 he became a restauranteur. He opened Chicken-n-Beer, cheekily named after his third album and nestled into the bustling Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. What better welcome to Ludacris’ hometown?
Ludacris had been hinting at the restaurant venture since 2003, but there were a series of snags. In 2012, he announced that the project was in the works, but it was only when the Atlanta City Council approved $3 billion worth of airport concessions that Luda got his opportunity. The restaurant focuses on classic southern fare like chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits.
Ludacris Sells A Boat-Load Of Cognac
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Ludacris has one lesser-known business venture outside of his highly-publicized spot in Fast and Furious, his various Grammy Awards, and his famed sneaker collabs. Ludacris co-owns an alcohol brand called Conjure Cognac alongside Birkedal Hartmann. In a decade, the brand managed to sell over 400,000 bottles of the stuff before taking it nationwide.
Birkedal Hartmann is a Norwegian-owned Cognac House. The brand ships around 400,000 bottles a year, making their plan to expand Luda’s blend quite ambitious. For this specific liquor, Luda took creative control helping pick the concoction and design the bottle.