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 a while.
Originally titled "Incognegro," "Back for the first time," was released independently and was re-released by media giant Def Jam 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 has also worked with Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri.
"The nickname is something I made up," said Ludacris, aka Chris Bridges about his name. "I have kind of a spirit personality - part of me is calm cool and collected, while the other side is just beyond crazy. My lyrics are ludicrous, my live shows 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 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.
"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 ganing a job producing the night show. Not straying from his roots, Ludacris made his mark rapping on voice 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 hiw 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 unites 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 influences 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, the hiccuping "What's your fantasy" in which Ludacris flips rapid fire sex rhymes over Shondre's ATL bass-inlfluenced track (at one point he imagines getting his freak on in the Georgia Dome during a Falcoms 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."