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Rap Biographies: Ludacris

Born Christopher Bridges on September 11, 1977 in Champaign, Illinois, Ludacris (a.k.a. Luda) later moved with his family to Atlanta where he began his career as a DJ at a local radio station. It was here he became known throughout the Atlanta area, eventually releasing his 2000 debut album, Back for the First Time resulting in a single hit on MTV2, What's Your Fantasy. The following year brought more success with another hit single, Southern Hospitality.

The Atlanta-based rapper went from local sensation to household name after Def Jam signed him to its Def Jam South subsidiary in 2000. In addition to connecting him with super-producers like Timbaland, the Neptunes, and Organized Noize, Def Jam gave Ludacris remarkable marketing push. Ludacris thus quickly became one of the rap industry's most in-demand rappers, guesting on hits for everyone from Missy Elliott ("One Minute Man") to Jermaine Dupri ("Welcome to Atlanta") when he wasn't dominating the urban market with his own hits, most notably "What's Your Fantasy?," "Southern Hospitality," "Area Codes," and "Rollout (My Business)."

Before he became the Dirty South's most successful rapper, Ludacris DJed at an Atlanta radio station. He used the opportunity to hone his craft on the mic, learn about the industry, and make a name for himself throughout the Atlanta area, which had become the South's rap mecca starting in the mid-'90s. Eventually, he began aspiring toward a career as a rapper rather than as a radio jock, and after working with Timbaland -- appearing on the super-producer's Tim's Bio album (the original version of "Fat Rabbit") in 1998 -- Ludacris began taking his rap career seriously. He recorded an album, Incognegro (2000), and released it on his independently released Disturbing tha Peace label. Ludacris primarily worked with producer Shondrae for the album, though also with Organized Noize to a lesser extent. Incognegro sold impressively in Atlanta, where Ludacris was well known for his radio work.

Ludacris' musical career goes back to when he was a child. Until when he was an infant, 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 skool 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 pursued 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.

Bridges began his music career as a radio personality and DJ as Chris Lova Lova on Hot 97.5, an urban radio station in Atlanta, Georgia. He made his recorded debut on "Phat Penis," a track from Timbaland's 1998 album Tim's Bio: Life from the Bassment. Although both Timbaland and Ghetto Boy showed interest in signing Ludacris, he decided to release the album Incognegro independently in 1999. The album sold over 50,000 copies, most sold from the trunk of Ludacris' car. The same year, he recorded the theme to the video game Madden NFL 2000. Scarface, an original member of the Geto Boys, signed Ludacris in 2000 to Def Jam Recordings, and created a new imprint, Def Jam South, around him.

Ludacris released his major label debut, Back for the First Time in October 2000. The album reached as high as #4 on the charts, and was a major success. Ludacris made his mark on the industry with singles such as "Southern Hospitality" and "What's Your Fantasy". Back for the First Time was the beginning of Ludacris's explosion to the top of the rap world.

Ludacris promptly completed his next album, Word Of Mouf and released it at the end of 2001. Its lead single, "Rollout (My Business)" was boycotted in many American video stations. Despite the controversy, the video was nominated for a 2003 VMA, and Luda performed it live at the awards' pre-show. Ludacris also toured with Papa Roach in 2002 after the release of their sophomore album lovehatetragedy.

During the spring of 2003, Ludacris returned to the music scene after a brief hiatus with a new single, "Act A Fool" from the 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack. At around the same time, he released the lead single from his upcoming album, Chicken & Beer, called "P-Poppin" (short for "Pussy Poppin'"). Neither of his new singles were as well-received by either the urban or pop audiences as his previous songs had been, and both music videos received only limited airplay. Chicken & Beer opened strongly, but without a popular single, the album fell quickly.
However, in the fall of 2003, Ludacris rebounded with his next single, "Stand Up", which appeared on both Chicken & Beer as well as the soundtrack for the teen hip-hop/dance movie, Honey. Produced by Kanye West, "Stand Up" went on to become Ludacris' biggest mainstream hit to date, hitting the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and garnering heavy airplay on mainstream pop, rhythmic, and urban radio stations, as well as on MTV, MTV2, and BET.

The album's next single, "Splash Waterfalls", was released in early 2004. Though not a pop hit, it became a success at urban radio and BET. It was Ludacris' most sexual video yet and an R&B remix that featured Raphael Saadiq and sampled Tony! Toni! Tone!'s "Whatever You Want".

The fifth studio album from Ludacris. Although entirely different from the usual antics of the previous albums, Ludacris had taken a more mature approach to his album. Ludacris openly boasted that he may be the only rapper able to keep the Def Jam label afloat. Ludacris had recently filmed and recorded the single "Get Back" in which he was featured a muscle-bounded hulk who was being annoyed by the media and warned his critics to leave him alone. The follow-up single was the Austin Powers-inspired "The Number One Spot". It was produced by Hot 97 personality DJ Green Lantern. It used the Quincy Jones sample of "Soul Bossa Nova" and sped it up to the tempo of Ludacris' rap flow.

Ludacris also filmed the video in which he pokes fun at Bill O'Reilly's problems with Andrea Mackris (Hi Mr. O'Reilly / Hope all is well kiss the plaintiff and the wifey). Production credits come also from veteran producer Timbaland, Lil' Jon, The Medicine Men and legendary rapper Doug E. Fresh. Featured on the album include rappers, Nas, DMX, Trick Daddy, and Disturbing Tha Peace newcomers Bobby Valentino (of Mista fame) and Dolla Boi and Small World. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. And most recently the rapper had used his opportunity to start his own foundation. The Ludacare Foundation started by Ludacris and Chaka Zulu is an organization that helps young middle and high school students motivate themselves in creative arts. Ludacris also has a daughter by the name of Karma. Ludacris had also participated at the Super Bowl and is the spokesman for the Boost Mobile Phone ad-campaign. Ludacris also received his first Grammy Award with Usher and Lil Jon for their hit single "Yeah".

In a recent issue of XXL, a hip-hop based magazine, Ludacris was placed in the number nine spot for the most anticipated albums of 2006, for Release Therapy. The album has a tentative release date in August and has had a false advance copy on the Internet for several months.
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