“I’m just a study of hip-hop,” the Atlanta legend told PEOPLE celebrating hip-hop’s 50th anniversary this month.
to LudacrisLife is about evolution. But that doesn’t mean his focus has changed.
The Atlanta MC’s legendary career is not only a testament to the power of hip-hop in all areas of entertainment – including movies – but also what can happen when you stay true to your vision.
“I stayed true to myself and who I am in all shapes, forms, and styles of the word,” Luda, 45, told People. “Satirical” means beyond crazy, wild, absurd. “
And things have changed just in terms of progression in my subject matter, the things I talk about, that’s obviously because I’ve grown up and had different experiences. So I went fromHoes in different area codesFor marriage (To his wife, Eudoxie, since 2014). So the progression and evolution of the artist and he’s not just reflecting the times in his music, but talking about his reality, that’s the best way to put it. It’s a beautiful thing, man.”
As hip-hop celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, Luda took time to reminisce about the moments that have shaped his career so far, from rapping for friends over lunch as a kid, to pushing boundaries in his music videos, to where he’s taken since. Sounds like Atlanta – “to a place of appreciation, respect, understanding, diversity, and camaraderie.”
Ludacris is one of more than 30 musicians sharing their stories as part of People’s Celebration of Hip Hop. For more on the anniversary, Catch the latest People’s Issue, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.
What does this landmark mean to you?
Well, it’s a big deal. I think it’s surreal to me because you could say I grew up with hip-hop and didn’t know anything else when I was born. So to realize that he’s still, in my opinion, so young and dominant, it’s the best thing that could happen in the world because he’s so ubiquitous in every aspect of life, not just on my part, but it seems to be the rest of the world as well. It’s like global domination, man. Basically, the impact I had in just 50 years was beyond my wildest imagination. That’s what I’m trying to say.
You’ve told this story before about being a kid singing to your friends at school, and how the crowd got bigger the next day, full of students cheering you on. Is this experience your first audience?
definitely. This then at the lunch table at school, during lunch or outside at lunch. This is where it all began. This is where I gained my confidence and knew I had to have some kind of talent because, like I said, the fans are getting bigger every day.
You’ve sold 24 million records. I hope this isn’t like picking a favorite kid, but which of your older records do you have closest to you today when you think back to where it all began?
Well, the first, just because of the emotional reasons for that, because it was unknown. I did it all independently of course. Then we repackaged the album and put two new songs on it and that was it Back first. It is difficult for some people to say what their baby is. I don’t see how people can’t say their baby isn’t on their first album because obviously that was like 21 years of my entire life put into one album. Then it finally came down to me believing in myself, being independent, and then finally making it out on my own with ‘What is your imagination. Then I saw the fruits of my labor of believing in myself and putting everything on the line, no matter the consequences, of not being afraid of failure. And luckily it wasn’t just failure, it was nothing but success. And I’ve been riding that train ever since.
How do you feel when you listen to this recording today?
It’s exactly what music’s supposed to do, man. It is meant to reflect time. So when I listen to it, it reflects the times, bro. early 2000s. That was in the first decade of the twenty-first century. 100% reflects the times for me.
I’m looking at Janet Jackson’s recently opened playlist. You had “Stand Up”, “Get Back”, “Money Maker”, all compressed into 10 songs. When you sit down to make a shortlist like that, does that help determine how much traffic there is?
Man, to answer the question, absolutely, man. I’m so glad that no matter where I go, the show, the show order, and the songs I do change. Of course, you’ll get the songs you do all over the place like “Stand Up” and “Move.” But then I have so many guest appearances and so many records that I don’t get to do depending on the time frame, which constantly reminds me how happy I am and how much of a catalog I have too.
So all that being said, yeah, man. I am able to cater each show listing to a specific audience. This is the best way to put it.
Even if we look at the evolution of guest verses as well, it says a lot about your work ethic. How would you describe the art of making the perfect guest poem?
Man, I’m very competitive, so I guess you could say that the perfect guest verse is just the best I know I can do, and that if anyone else were to appear on the record and whether or not I heard their version, they wouldn’t be able to compete with What happens. So when you come in with that mentality, that’s always been my mentality, just the competition side of everything and I just know to be tough as a guy.
Of course, a big part of your career has always been visuals. Which are you proud of today?
What is the video you are most proud of? the curse. I don’t think I’ve been asked that question before, man. Give me a moment to think about that.
I mean, it’s a must-have in between crazy videos, like “Whoa” or “Back.” When they describe my arm as iconic…it would pretty much make you realize that something I did has stuck in people’s heads for decades. And I think that’s something that’s very unique to me, I guess.
Trying to make sure nothing is forgotten because the video of “standing up” with big boots is also ridiculous and then “knocking it out” with a big ass head. Being upside down in the “Southern Hospitality” video is dope. Oh man, this is hard. But I’m just going to do it for, I don’t want to say political reasons, but I’m going to say for what has stood the test of time in terms of popping up in people’s heads and just being a staple, it’s got to be my “comeback” arm, man.
What do you hope the music itself has contributed to the past 50 years of hip-hop?
Have fun, man. There are a lot of artists out there, and they’re very serious and never want to show the weak side, not necessarily the weak side, but just in terms of making hip-hop fun and making people laugh. Not only that, but it’s obviously very versatile from a guy who could do something like “Runaway Love” and then do something like “First Point.” But yeah, and here’s another picture that I enjoyed a lot. But anyway, yeah, I would say bring fun to hip-hop. I grew up on comedians, man, so I was one of those kids who watched stand-up and stand-up when I was 6, 7 years old. So was the guy that Richard Pryor grew up on Eddie Murphy And just all these different comedians, that’s kind of my forte, so that obviously crept into the music in a way that I didn’t even subconsciously realize it would. It distinguishes me from many people.
Some people in hip-hop that I feel helped shape and shape me that I absolutely love, like Redman. I absolutely love Redman. So when we talk about enjoying hip-hop music, he was one of those people. Common Sense was one of those people. mentioned LL Cool J. Hence OutKasts of the World. So I’m just studying hip-hop. I love him. My whole life has changed. You changed my family’s life. To this day, I wake up feeling thankful for that. I can’t believe he’s only 50 years old.
Where do you hope your music has taken hip-hop in Atlanta specifically?
Listen up man. To a place of great appreciation, respect, and understanding, as I said, of diversity and camaraderie. This is very important.
Not every city works with artists in their city in the same way that Atlanta does. Many artists have said that before. And fortunately I feel we are on this earth to cooperate with each other in some way, shape or fashion. And the fact that I’ve been able to collaborate with so many, I feel like it’s a great thing. I think that’s what hip-hop is about. When it stands for cutting, scratching, looping, sampling, and breakdancing, it’s just like we do those things together.
What do you hope for in the next fifty?
What I love is that it’s so psychedelic in hip-hop is that everybody’s evolving in not only being a rapper, but they’re getting their act and everything. If anything, I’d say I’d love to see entrepreneurship in hip-hop and people owning their stuff more. So I would say more ownership and this is really happening.
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