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June 9, 2022 31 mins

He is a radio DJ turned Hip-Hop superstar. Ludacris built his career in music and acting by writing about his life and rapping on Atlanta radio stations, leading him to become a founding member of record label Disturbing tha Peace. Although he was a radio DJ under the name of Chris Lova Lova, Ludacris was ready to build his own name as a recording artist. One of his first singles, “What’s Your Fantasy”, proved that he had a trademark flow. In 2009, six studio albums later, Ludacris was met with idolization as he collaborated with Justin Bieber on the hit single “Baby”, and proved that everything comes down to the music. Now, Ludacris is a businessman, restaurateur, philanthropist, and he finds success as a Fast and Furious star and founder of the Ludacris Foundation. Through hard work tracing back to his first radio show, Ludacris continues to be a trailblazer who wants to be the best man he can be. Watch Behind the Music now on Paramount+.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
He's the Southern rhyme slinger whose unique style changed the game.
Ludacris broke into hip hop as an Atlanta radio DJ,
but when he flipped his skills into rapping, his voice
fell on deaf ears. But Ludicrous refused to take no
for an answer, and through sheer perseverance, parlaid his quick

witted wraps into an award winning music and acting career
that brought him millions. But behind the women in the
caveat Ludicrous suffered through intense personal hardships. Now, for the
first time publicly, Ludicrous is opening up about the father
he loved, the controversy that's always followed him, and the

drive that carried him to the top. This is Ludicrous,
the story behind the music. It's summertime, two thousand thirteen,
and Ludicrous is at home in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite being
in the public, Ludacris has remained fiercely private, but he's

finally ready to open up about his life. Ludacris is
behind the music. Was supposed to have him like five
years ago, but I was holding off because I didn't
want to tell this story. Everybody always thinks it's all
glitz and glamour and everything is all good all the time.
Noice some it's some extreme issues and some extreme problems
going on in my life. Ludicrous was born Christopher Brian

Bridges and Champaign, Illinois, in September nine, and from day
one was instilled with a strong work ethic. I have
come from a family of what I would say, go getters.
I feel like I was genetically predisposed to having this ambition.
His mother, Roberta Shields, was an economic student at the
University of Illinois. I conceived Chris with her college sweetheart,

a business major named Wayne Bridges. Wayne was the kind
of guy that come up behind you and grab you
and wrestle you to the floor with kisses. My dad hilarious,
his life lessons out of the ordinary. You know. I
remember as having the birds and Bees conversation. It was
like sex. You know, It's something that you're gonna get
into and it feels good, Son, it feels good. Queen

and Roberta never married, but raised their only child together
in a loving home infused with music. I would wake
up in the morning, my father will be playing music.
Everything from Frankie, Beverly and Mays and Michael Jackson, the Prince.
It became a part of me. I was born into
this lifestyle. This is what I was made for. Yeah.

Despite Wien's love for his family, there was another side
to Chris's father, a hard drinking alcoholic. You know, his
personality changed. He was very controlling. Um, so that became
a problem. You know, you want someone just to stop.
I asked him to make an ovoids us or the alcohol,

and um, you know, he wasn't able to do that.
That's when I was aware that there was a real
problem with alcoholism. Wayne continued to drink, so Roberta sat
out on the road with their only son, and when
Chris's dad soon found a job in Atlanta, Mom found
the natural separation easier to explain to her son than

sharing the details of his father's illness. You know, I
kind of was mad at my father because I could
not understand why he left, and you know why I
couldn't see him as much as I wanted to see him.
Did I take it out on anyone? I feel like
I took it out in in my love and I
was at the time music. I was nine years old
and I just remember L L. Pool J I'm bad.

The aggressiveness of it, his tone, everything. I just remember
from that day forward, it was like that was it
for me. As a young rapper growing up in Oak Park,
Chris joined the troop of Flegging Him Ease who split
their way all over Chicago. Rapping was just like the seconds.
They had this group and it's called Tic Tac too.
They were rapping. They had their own little crew, but

it was Chris who emerged as the group's lead MC.
Every day it was a new line, all the new
metaphors and new simile or the new catchphrase. Chris kept
getting better every single day. From there, he became a
young career. While Chris immersed himself in Chicago's hip hop seed,
it wasn't only Mom who was tracking his progress. Though

Chris lived with me, his father was very much in
his life. I won't see that he was an absentee father,
not at all. Though they lived in different cities, Chris
would talk to his father during the winter and would
spend his summers in Atlanta. But it soon became clear
the seasonal trips weren't enough. Chris said, Mom, I've lived
with you for a while. I want to live with

dad for a while too. I loved my mother with
all my heart with As a young boy, of course,
I wanted to be with my father and wanted to
be around a man and understand what manhood was all about.
It was hard for me. However, it sounds reasonable. Wayne
was many persons. He wasn't just this alcoholic. Wayne was

an amazing father, full of life and full of love
and brilliant. So that's where I began the Atlanta, Georgia
chapter of my life. As Chris joined his father in Atlanta,
what he found in the Dirty South would fuel his
fire and guide him on a journey that would forever
change his life. When I started hearing about all these

groups like ABC and Criss Cross getting discovered in Atlanta, Georgia,
where my father lived, and I was like, man, I
can wrap just as good, if not better than all
of these individuals. So it's my time. The Permanent Moved
down South exposed Chris the Wayne's destructive habits and answered
some questions he had about his childhood. I finally realized

why my father and my mother split up. I understood
he had a drinking problem. My dad would would say
false promises all the time. We're gonna make sure we
do this, or we're gonna go to this place, And
a lot of the times it wouldn't happen. It was
a difficult time. We would definitely break my spear down.
So I just wrote, you know what I mean. I

wrote about my life. I wrote about everything. Chris's writing
was his therapy, and he turned it into rhyme, wrapping
his way through Bannaker High School in College Park, Georgia,
quickly falling in with a crew that included a fellow
student rapper name Little Fate oh Man High School rapped
with everything. You know, every chance we got to wrap,

we was wrapping. I was into my studies, but at
the same time, I just love to wrap College Park, Georgians,
Bannaga High School. This is what your hazards on, man.
So the Bannaker mascot is Trojan, so and we used Trojan.
So it's just like it's a good thing. Man. This

is where it all started, is where where I met
my eighth Right here. Every time lunch would let out,
we get as big of a crowd around us as possible,
spending nothing but wrap, talk about money, women and clothes.
Then we didn't really have as much, but now we
actually got it so, you know, faking the till you
make it number one, real number one rap, fake it

till you make with an unusual chaotic flow and a
unique rhyme pattern, Chris began calling himself Ludicrous, and when
he and Fate graduated from bannaker In, they joined forces
with another aspiring local rapper named the Trio called themselves
disturbing the peace. I used to sleep on the floor

and Fate will sleep on this couch man, and uh,
when you have a whole lot of money. But we
had a dream that we shared. You know, we was
gonna do everything get took to make it in. A
brand new Raydeo station devoted entirely to wrap was inaugurated
in Atlanta. Eager to get on the air, Ludicrous set
up a meeting with Hot young music director and on

air personality Shot Kazoolu and played him some of the
homemade cuts he was working on with DTP. It was good,
really good, but you know it wasn't quite where it
needed to be, you know, for for the airways. Undaunted,
the precocious MC figured out another way into the station,
an unpaid internship with Hot ninety seven's morning show, You

Got artists, You got producers, you have so many music
industry people that come through to a radio station every
single day. It was like a means to an end.
I had plotted it out. I just said, I'm gonna
try and infiltrate the system. He was a super skinny
with this huge apro I mean huge apro, like one

of the biggest I've ever seen, but totally cool guy.
Thanks to Luda's charisma and skills, he soon became a
personality on the show named Chris Love a Lover. He
was always the master of the punchline, I mean, and
he could take a situation and kind of make it
into a rap. Just had a very loud presence that

that really worked incredibly for radio. It worked so well
the station teamed him up with another radio personality named
Poon Daddy and gave them their own show called Future Flavors,
and then they added La La, which has made it
diversity and it was just a huge deal. Future Flavors
was the number one show in Atlanta, and Chris was

definitely the captain of that ship and just led the
entire show coming up. Ludicrous is fantasy becomes reality when
behind the music continues over the next two years, Chris

Love a Lover became one of the hot as d
j's and hip hop, but he wasn't entirely satisfied. My
goal from day one was to give people my music,
and I never lost sight of what I was really
there for. Whenever I wasn't working, I would use the
production room where people would cut commercials as my personal studio,
because at the time I did not have money. Sometimes

I'd have to wait all night just for somebody to
get out of there, and I would go in and
record my demo, whether it be over other instrumentals or
over original music. And that's how I came about making music.
How was this extremely ambitious and extremely driven Ludicrous was
now poised to go out under his own day keeping
fate and I twenty in his crew, And when he

played Shock of some new cuts and asked him to
be as manager, the man who once turned him down
now had a simple answer, Let's go let's roight. Joining
the management team was Shock his brother Jeff Dixon, and
together they caught their first big break in late n
when super producer Timberland was at Hot nine seven and
heard Luda on the air. I heard a little skit

like and something like that, like something I'm loving who
you are, something the double mold, the phone, the ball,
And I was like, this guy is a character. He's
gonna blow. Tim was working on his debut album as
a rapper and invited Ludacris to his studio in Virginia
to cut a record. I had this beat, the first
meat I had. Chris turned me down like that, ain't it.

I'm like meat that, ain't it. Chris and Tim settled
on a different beat and created a cut they called
Fat Rabbit. I looked at it as you are the
biggest thing since American cheese. Do you realize that? I mean,

she's a crisis, Timberlin. It was like, Okay, it's gonna
go from here. But it wasn't the way we were
in SISI Fatal. While the album went gold, Luda's record
was only a regional hit, failing the chart nationally and
making no headway with the major labels. For Ludicrous, he
was still just a well known DJ named Chris Lover,

a lover with his own show and his own set
of problems. I just remember one day we were on
the radio and he told me he had to leave
the radio station and he was like, I got a
call at my dad's walking up and down Old National
Highway and he's drunk. And that for me was a
moment I'll never forget because that was the first time

he talked about it, and he was embarrassed and he
was hurt, and he had to leave his job to
go get his dad off the side of the road.
In terms of me growing older and understanding and wanting
him to get help, I came to him plenty of times,
plenty of times for the love that I had for
him and just begging him to stop drinking. And eventually

in life I had to understand that this is why
they call it a disease. Alcoholism is a disease. Yeah,
very serious disease. And he wouldn't stop. By the beginning
of Ludacris was a well known twenty two year old
Atlanta radio DJ and budding rapper. Determined to get signed.

Ludacris was cutting demos and looking for a gift from
the hip hop gods. Instead, he got a beat from
his local barber. I work in a shop, you know,
I cut hair. That's what That's how I made my money.
Chris used to come through that he had an afrow.
I would line him up. Back then, I used to
just make beats, so I let Chris hid his this

track next time I've seen he had a hook, What's
your Fantasy? He was part of a collection of sexually
laced tracks Luda created that showed off his unique flow
in comical style. Calling the home made album incog Negro,
hes manager Shotka Zoolu shopped it to the major labels,
but no one took him seriously. He could have said

he worked at people like that's cool, but coming from
radio and look at it like, no, you're just a
radio DJ. You can't you can't possibly even a wrap
for real. I wrestled with this idea that this really
famous DJ was all of a sudden a recording artist.
I wasn't convinced. In August of ninety nine, Ludacris made

a bold and risky move. Using his own hard earned cash.
He designed it to release Incognegro independently under his own
newly formed label. That was the day I became a man.
Is when I put my balls on the table and
I said I'm gonna put this album out. It was
even an hour or never. Luda's next move was even
more ingenious, using none other than his radio alter ego

Chris Love a Lover. Chris Ain't no dumb and Chris
can get on the radio and said, Hi, this is
a CREDI level lover. MAKEE sure you check out that
new ludicrous song What's your Fantasy? I really like that,
And then people be like, Hey, well, Chris love a
Lover like let me go check it out. By this time,
I knew so many people in radio in different cities.
I called all of my partners around the country and

asked them to play this song. What's Your Fantasy spread
like wildfire, resonating with hip hop fans practically overnight. I
eventually went on to self fifty thousand copies without a
record deal on my own, my first big check three
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. My life changed overnight. When
I tell you, I had every major record label calling

me on my cell phone. I have no idea how
they even got my cell phone number. The pre eminent
hip hop label def Jam called the most and signed
Looted a spearhead their newest imprint, def Jam South. One
of the happiest days of my entire life was the
day that I signed my def Jam contract in the
radio station while I was still on the air. In

October of two thousand, def Jam simply repackaged Jincodnigo and
released it under a new name called Back for the
first time. The album went three times platinum, Sweet Revenge
and tre a Rapper. Very few people believed in just
a few months before I heard that song and said,
oh my god, Chris Lover Lover has a smash special

thing about Christians period was just the originality. His flow
was like something we hadn't heard before. He started to
develop personality, and you knew that was a ludicrous verse,
and you knew that was a ludicrous song, and you
knew that was ludicrous. Walking down the street, I feel
like the Lord just wants to test you out, to
see how discipline you're gonna be for a certain amount

of time. And he's like, all right, you you paid
your dudes, I'm open to pull up gates for you
right now. And that's what happened. The ride they took
us was a very very powerful and very profitable and
successful one first seven figure check, even better of course
than the three hundred and fifty thousand I received on
my own this time around, I kind of went crazy.

I bought a plane, cars with TVs and gas tank,
you know what I mean, like stupid stuff. I mean literally,
he had a car that had about, like I want
to say, forty TVs and it every headrest, the steering
wheel wider for the TV in the gas tank because
when I was pumping my gas, I wanted to be
able to watch television. I'm telling you all of it

changed my life. Man. I love to travel. For you
to step to another continent and people recognizing you and
going crazy, there's no way to put that in words.
Of that feeling. That's the greatest thing about traveling. But
you start realizing that there's no place like home. And
the strip clubs in Atlanta, Georgia, the Atlantic Strip Club

is one hell of an experience. Some of the best
chicken wings in the world, some of the best steaks, lobster.
You know, there was just more ash slapping. Instead of
two cheeks on your leg, you have four, two on
each leg. You know. Despite loots well publicized definity for
strip clubs, his private life was off lim to those
outside of his tight knit inner circle for a number

of years before he broke big Chris had an on again,
off again relationship with a woman named Christine White. Christine
and someone I met through a mutual friend who you
know was also had a love and a passion for
the entertainment industry, for poetry, from music, just for culture,
and you know, we became really close. Barely a month

after releasing his debut album, Christine told lu to Chris
she was pregnant, and on August ten, two thousand one,
Karma Bridges was born in Atlanta, Georgia. For her twenty
four year old father. Life would never be the same.
The first time seeing that was the best day of
my life. You see someone who is an extension of

your self, mind, body, spirit, soul. It's just it's a
spiritual experience. I literally went from being selfish to selfless
in like sixty seconds, knowing that it's no longer about
me whatsoever. I have a person to take care of.
Coming up Luda, Chris comes to grips with his father's

illness when behind the music continues. This is where the
first video was shot. What's your fantasy right in this
parking lot? So we got this picture right here, which
is funny as hell because you see faith with the

meme facing the background. You got me on top of
the car. Whenever you shoot your very first video, you
haven't really all the way come into yourself in terms
of how you're supposed to appear on camera, what you're
supposed to do. So I remember they're saying action in
the first take. Everybody was laughing at me because I
was kind of like on the LLL cool Jay smooth
cool side him. And then it was like, cut, what

the hell are you doing, Chris? What the hell they
had to come how that me? And it was I
was They was like all right, I was good, do
it again. Second take, and that's where lud Chris was
barked from that point on. In the fall of two
thousand one, after an enormously successful debut effort, Ludicrous put

the finishing touches on a sophomore album, Word of Mouth,
a collection of lyrics about money, cards and chicks. There
was not gonna be any sophomore jinx. I knew we
were going continuously up, and like I said, I've been
waiting for this moment all my life. Ludicrous is like
the Yosemite Sam of our music. It's just fires off
at the mouth. What do you do here. That's all

tell truth. You moved a bit up word of mouth
hit number three on the Billboard two hundred, moving almost
four million units and taking Luda's career to the next
level where everywhere exposure is crazy, all over television. No,
I've created my space, I'm making my mark in music history.

And I remember Pepsi coming to me, you know, wanting
to give me an endorsement deal. In the summer of
two thousand two, Ludicrous and Pepsi teamed up to create
two commercial spots, one of which would air during the
upcoming Super Bowl. You immediately think about Michael Jackson, you
know he had a Pepsi deal, Like, what does this mean?
We have a Pepsi deal. Michael Jackson has Pepsi deal,

Like this is some real, real, next level. And then
it's somebody hits the brakes. Next thing, you know, I
get a call some guy named Bill O'Reilly's talking about
on television. Why Who's Bill O'Reilly calling Luda a thug
rapper who espouses violence, intoxication, and degrading conduct toward women.

The conservative Fox News pundit attacked ludicrous lyrics and called
for Pepsi to drop him. From their endorsement deal. He
was every day on TV. I mean every day he
got worse than Warrison worse, I mean Bill was on
his campaign. Ultimately, PEPSI succumbed to public pressure and terminated
its contract with Ludicrous. The mercial spots Loud a shot

would never see the light of day on an emotional
level during that time, and I was. I was furious.
Of course, I wanted to like, I wanted to whip
somebody's ass. That's how I felt. Definitely, I want to
under present felt like it was racist. To this day,
Ludicrous remains unapologetic about his material, and he refuses to change.

Whenever someone says whole in rap music, people who don't
understand that, they just instantly think they we're talking about women.
No men are posed too, So what are you mad at?
What's my size in this ticket? If I'm saying that
both men and women are wholes, I particularly remember being
a whole at a certain point in my life. The

Bill O'Riley controversy costs lout of millions, but the publicity
also increased his visibility. In two thousand two, Luda was
offered a part in John Singleton's upcoming film too fast,
too furious. Kind of jumped at the opportunity because I
knew acting was something that I was very interested and
curious about. Proving a quick study. Ludicrous's next film was

the provocative two thousand four hit Crash, which explored racism
in America. Craft was probably one of the best experiences
of my life. Man, so many A list actors and
actresses in this movie, acting in movies, the whole process. Man,
I just learned that it's not as easy as everyone
thinks it is. Critically acclaimed. Crash picked up three Oscars,

including Best Picture at the two thousand five Academy Awards,
but Ludas crossover success was bitter sweet. In two thousand six,
his father was diagnosed with diabetes and was given a
chilling warning from his doctors, continuing to hit the bottle
would soon kill him. You can't fix everything. I mean,

you can have money, you can have fame, but there
are certain things that you cannot fix. There were times
he would sit down and look at me, you know,
he cry in front of me and tell me I'm
gonna stop sign but he didn't do it. I knew
it was only so much time left for my father.
In early two thousand six, doctors told Ludicrous his father,

Wayne Bridges, that continuing to drink alcohol while he was
battling diabetes was a ticking time bomb. His body just
slowly started to wear down on him. He was slowly
killing himself. I would always ask him, what do you
think about it all? And he's like, man, you know,
I'm praying for the best, but also enjoying my time

with him. If this is gonna be the only time
that I have, that is why he did to Grew
Up a screw Up video, in which he put his
father with a cameo. Grew Up a screw Up was
a record Ludicrous inserted onto his fifth studio album, aptly
entitled Released Therapy, replacing his trademark corn Rows with a

fresh new look. Loota's newest effort spawned two number one
singles and debut to top the Billboard two hundred. The
album was also nominated for a Grammy, But in February
of two thousand seven, as Luda prepared to leave for
the award show, his father's condition took a turn for
the worse. It was a very very, very very tense time.

Wayne entered the hospital and slipped in and out of consciousness,
losing his ability to communicate with his only son. I
was debating about going to the Grammys because I was
at his side during this whole you know period, and
so people had to convince me that he would want
me to go to the Grammys because I had a

great chance of winning Album of the Year. I dedicated
my Grammy speech to him, and I asked everybody in
the world on national television to pray for my father
because I didn't want him to go. Yeah, it was
one special for me. Aud the emotion that was going
on during that time with my father, I like, I

wanted for him, and as soon as I went backstage, man,
I just kind of broke down. Just two weeks later,
Ludacris was by his father's bedside when it's just fifty
two years old, Wayne Bridges took his vital breath. If
you had asked me, you know, what are my proudest
of my son about? And I think it's him releasing

his father and telling him it's okay. I remember being
in the hospital and his blood pressure being through the
roof and me making basically a mixed tape of songs
for him. The same songs that I used to listen
to when I was a kid, that I would wake
up too in the morning that he made me love

and I put the headphones on him while he was
in the hospital bed and his blood pressure came all
the way down. That made it was it was peace
for me. By two thousand nine, Ludacris was a hip

hop superstar, a widely respected lyricist with a trademark flow.
But in the spring of that year, he took one
of the biggest risks of his career when Atlanta party
promoter Scooter Braun asked Luda if he collaborate on a
record with an up and coming singer. Chris has known
Justin from when Justin was thirteen, when I first moved
into Atlanta, Hugos, will send me the record. Instead of

you know, sitting here saying, oh man, I don't you
know I sit and get on a young boys song
or I shouldn't do this and I do that, I
strictly just listened to the music. So I called Chris,
and Chris literally said, I love this song. Is this
smash I'm gonna get on it? And it really put
a little flavor and edge onto a very mainstream, uh
sounding pop song. The music video for Baby was released

online in February two and ten, and by July was
the most viewed video in YouTube history today, capturing an
unbelievable eight hundred and seventy four million views and counting.
What's more, Ludacris was now idolized by every tween across
the planet, including his then ten year old daughter Karma.

Never in a million years or I thought I have
a daughter that thinks that I'm even cooler because I
did a song with a kid that he looks out too.
Luda is a loving parent to his teenage daughter and
has finally found the perfect balance between his career and fatherhood.
It's about experiences, It's about wisdom, it's about now it is.

It's about sharing all these different things and making sure
that you are not just there in the present, but
there with your child mentally, spiritually, physically. I'm extremely proud
of Chris, but what he's achieved in the music and
the film industry, mostly I'm not proud of him as
the man that he's become, the father that he is.

I don't know a stronger man. Thank Chris Today. Luda's
reaches far and wide. He's a successful businessman, restaurantur, and
the founder of the Ludicrous Foundation, not for profit aimed
to inspire youth through education and memorable experiences. Through sheer

ambition and an endless amount of hard work, Christopher Brian
Bridges has earned the fantasy he once dreamed though I
might have my goals very early on, knew what I
wanted to be, knew what I wanted to do. That's
where I'm at in my life, you know, continuing forward
to become the absolute best man I can possibly be

before I expire on this thing we call Earth. Ludicrous
continues to be a trailblazer in both the music and
film industries. In he released his highly anticipated eight studio album, Ludovisi.
The album's track list is jam packed with features from
huge artists like John Legend, Usher macguel and many more.

Since appearing in Fast and Furious Too, Ludacris has starred
in the franchisees subsequent films. Not only has Ludacris flourished
in his professional life, but he has also poured time
and energy into the Ludicrous Foundation, earning him accolades from
the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Black Enterprise magazine. Ludacris has

enjoyed massive success, and all of the milestones, awards, and
fame can be traced back to his first radio show
in Atlantic. There he learned how to harness his ambition,
a lesson that he has manifested throughout his career. Listen
and subscribe to Behind the Music on the I Heart
Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your favorite podcast.

He shared a rate and review Behind the Music on
Apple podcast on Spotify. What more episodes you can watch?
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