Ludacris: Audio Cinematic
But ask the 31-year-old Illinois native the kids call Ludacris to name something else hes good and the man goes, I would consider myself really good at playing real-life Monopoly, the real estate business. I would say Im good at real estate. Now is not the time to sell. People are always going to need a place to stay.
Follow the bar-spitting broker over the next month or so and the label of brilliant time manager could join dudes list of jobs. Ludas action-packed Max Payne just opened to big box office numbers on October 17. On October 31, another film he co-stars, RocknRolla, comes out. Then, on November 25, Ludacris unleashes his seventh CD, Theater of the Mind, on the masses. Hell, were ready for a nap from just reciting the mans itinerary.
We didnt wanna just assume how Luda was feeling about it all, so we recently met up with the tireless artist at an Atlanta hotel to get his thoughts on the new movies, new DTP projects and new ways consumers are using their entertainment dollars.
HipHopDX: You have two big movies dropping in October. What does that feel like?
Ludacris: It feels good, man, but Im always trying to strive to do better cause I still feel like Im new to the acting gameeven though Ive been doing it for, like, five years. Its different from music. Ive been doing that since I was, like, nine. Im lovin it. Im just glad Im makin smart choices and I want to continue doing that, picking diverse roles. Thats what Im all about, not tryin to play Ludacris in any movies. Im tryin to do different stuff.
DX: These flicks are kinda dark.
Ludacris: Yeah, they got that film noir, Matrix feel.
DX: Thats a definite contrast to your light-hearted albums. Is that done consciously?
Ludacris: Absolutely. When I say increase my body of work, I strive to do stuff thats going to surprise everybody else and do just different things. Thats exactly why I did that. I just like to have that range. I think I have that. Im very versatile and Im just trying to show that versatility.
DX: Tell me a couple of actors that fans would be surprised to hear you like.
Ludacris: Jeffrey Wright. Shirley McLaine. Of course, Denzel [Washington]. Dustin Hoffman. Jack Nicholson, just to name a few.
DX: Whats special about Theater of the Mind?
Ludacris: In Theater of the Mind, I themed every song to be like a movie. Instead of having features, I feel like I have co-stars. Everything is movie-esque. Say, for instance, I have a song with [boxer] Floyd Mayweather [click to read] called Undisputed. Im in a boxing ring and you can hear the punches. Hes my coach and hes kinda coaching me through the industry. I got a song with Common [click to read] and Spike Lee called Do the Right Thing, kinda themed after the movie. Some of them are storytelling songs. Some of them you hear sound effects. Its basically, Im providing you the audio; the rest is up to the theater of your mind. Its something totally different than what everybody else is doing right now.
DX: In your eyes, have you done a great album yet?
Ludacris: Hell yeah! I definitely think Ive done a great album. I wouldnt say every one of them is a classic, but I definitely think Ive done some great albums.
DX: For that person who only knows the commercial stuff, what album do they need to listen to for a true definition of Ludacris?
Ludacris: I would say every album, but if I had to choose one, I would say the Theater of the Mind album. It basically soaks up all of the albums in one.
DX: When you look at Hip Hop across the musical landscape, are you pleased with its current position?
Ludacris: You know what? I think that it kinda puts the pressure on everybody to try to put out greater projects as a whole; not just having one or two great singles out but having a great album. It seems like consumers are getting smarter. They can just go buy one song and not buy an entire album. But if you have an entire album thats good, then I feel like [thats good]. On the one hand, Im not happy with it. On the other, I am. Its, like, good and bad. I just think consumers are picking and choosing which albums they wanna go out and buy.
DX: You dont knockem for that, right?
Ludacris: Hell nah! Im the same way. Thats why I took my time with this [album], and I made sure Im about to give them their moneys worthalways.
DX: I got an email the other day about an I-20 record. Pardon the ignorance, but who is in DTP these days?
Ludacris: 20 is definitely family. You got Shareefa. You got Playaz Circle [click to read], the Duffle Bag Boys. You have a new artist by the name of Willie Northpole. Hes out of Phoenix, Arizona. We have a new group by the name of Block Exchange. Oh, and Shawnna. Were actually working on some stuff with Shawnna now.
DX: How is 09 gonna play out for you?
Ludacris: In 09, Im definitely dropping another album. Im working on a Battle of the Sexes album and a Theater of the Mind 2. With Battle of the Sexes, Im trying to do some stuff with Shawnna. Theres another movie coming out [next summer] called The Game, which stars Gerard Butler. He starred in 300 [click to read]. That is a kinda futuristic action movie. Imagine convicts in a battle zone, but [theyre] being played as actual video games because they have a chip in their heads. So, its human beings playing other human beings in a battle zone. They do it to shave time off their sentences, or to get outta jail. Its going to be crazy.
DX: This economic situation is affecting everybody in some way. How is it touching you?
Ludacris: Well, I mean, as a businessman, I have businesses, so everybody is affected. The one thing I can say is that it affects me in a way that I feel responsible and people are really stressed out right now. They need forms of entertainment to help them get through. So, providing them with Max Payne or RocknRolla or giving them this Theater of the Mind album on November 25 is kinda needed. I think that helps people relieve a lil bit of stress and thats what Im trying to do.
DX: And with all of that comes a level of expectations. Do you pride yourself in being someone whos looked up to?
Ludacris: Absolutely. I definitely understand that Im a role model. If I come out with parental advisory stickers [on my CDs], I cant control where my music goes sometimes. But I definitely take on my role as a role model. Thats why I have my own foundation. I do a lot with kids and work a lot with underprivileged youth and continue to give back to my community