There are many things that Chris “Ludacris” Bridges still has to cross off his to-do list. For starters, he’d like to learn to cook something besides tacos. He’d also like to learn the basics of photography—because music and acting as art forms just aren’t enough for a man who likes to master all. However, when you wait five years from one album release to another, that record sort of has to become your main focus, especially when you’re a Virgo. Anyone who follows astrology knows that this means one thing: the man is a perfectionist.
“I’ve devoted my creativity and my all-out hunger to this music, and it’s just amazing. I feel that this is by far the best piece of work I’ve done so far,” he confides of Ludaversal, his ninth studio album.
It’s no accident that the March 31st release of Ludaversal will coincide with the second biggest project in his life: the April 3rd debut of Furious 7, his seventh time reprising the role of Tej Parker in The Fast and the Furious franchise film.
‘Part of the reason that the album comes out the same week as the movie is that I saw a window of time. I said, ‘I’m not going to shoot any other movies, and I’m going to dedicate this time to my music. I think that when people hear this album, they will understand that I’m not a person who’s trying to juggle two jobs,” says Ludacris.
He admits that the lull in his music-making was largely due to his Furious filmmaking: shooting three films in four years did not give him the appropriate time needed to cut a worthy record.
“We were shooting back to back, and it’s such a big franchise movie that even in between movies we were doing reshoots and publicity, and it wasn’t a large enough window, in my opinion, to give my music the amount of time and marketing it deserved.
“Of course, you have a lot of fans who are impatient, but at the same time, I want to be able to devote my full time to it and not half-ass it, for lack of a better word. I’d rather wait and it be right than to rush and be all the way wrong.” He adds, “I’m a Virgo, so everything has to be perfect.”
It’s a good thing he waited then, because the artist is confident that Ludaversal is the best work he’s ever done—and mind you, this is a man who already has a Best Album Grammy (for 2007’s Release Therapy).
“I feel that this is the best piece of work I’ve done so far,” he enthuses. “I’ve gotten very personal in talking about certain things, my trials and tribulations. You get a culmination of all of the [different] “Ludacrises” that people like: the fun, crazy Ludacris; the serious one; and the one going at rappers. It’s a great variety, but it all fits together in one body of work.”
Though he’s hesitant to delve into the specifics of his album—it isn’t yet completely finalized and he’d like the tracks to be a “surprise” for his fans—he will allow that it’s “very emotional” and that it’s “a journey through my world and the things that I’ve been through.”
Ludacris is an intensely private person. His reluctance to speak about the personal matter of his songs is therefore not so surprising, nor is the fact that the one song he does passionately speak about is “Money,” a track about the ups and downs of fame and fortune. His hesitancy and the “mo money mo problems” mentality go hand in hand, see.
“I think that with more money, there comes more problems. There are a lot of individuals that you have to watch out for and why they’re getting close to you. Everyone is out for money, and everyone is greedy. Money is the root of all evil. Anyone who has a lot of money will say the same thing, but it’s my job as a rapper and an artist to talk about it in a different, more creative way that everyone else would.”
Those who know and love Luda should expect to see the 37-year-old getting introspective with tracks like “Grass is Always Greener.” He notes, “We’re always trained to think that what we don’t have is better than what’s right in front of our faces. It’s a very deep song.”
The soul-searching you’ll hear on Ludaversal is a result of some real-life reflection from the rapper. “I’ve seen changes in myself,” he confesses. “The only constant, they say, is change, and change is good. I love everything that I’ve gone through. I wouldn’t change one thing, because God has a plan, and you just have to be faithful and stick it all the way out. I’m just very, very confident in who I am and what it is I need to do, what I need to accomplish. I’m always looking to better myself and reinvent myself. Every single day I’ve become a better man because of what I’ve seen, what I’ve gone through, and whom I’ve interacted with.”
Someone who has made a huge impact on Luda’s life is his late The Fast and the Furiousco-star Paul Walker, who died tragically in a 2013 car accident while filming Furious 7. “It was very hard doing things without him,” he admits. “Once we were able to come back to the set, we got together and prayed and realized he would have wanted us to finish this movie and do it the absolute best way we could. We did [this movie] for Paul. Each and every person set out to make sure that we did our absolute best, from the director to all the actors to the writer.”
It was emotionally and technically difficult to do the film without his longtime friend, but Ludacris is confident that fans will leave theaters pleased. “We had to flip things a little bit, but I think it’s going to be a great body of work, and people are going to leave the movie theater with so many up-and-down emotions. It’s a thrilling ride, and they’re going to laugh, but they’re definitely going to cry also.”
There was a fair bit of the latter happening when Ludacris heard the news of his friend’s death: the two had been best buds throughout filming. “[His death] was very hard for me,” he admits. “Our birthdays were just one day apart. Of all the cast members, we just really got along. We were very similar in terms of our personalities: just two Virgos. We shut ourselves out from the big world a lot, and we liked doing thrill-seeking things.”
What he’ll miss the most about Walker were the long, intense conservations they would have both on and off set, hours spent chatting about life, and yes—death. “I’ll miss the deep conversations he’d have with me,” Luda says. “We’d have a lot of conversations about life, about the world, about why things happen, and how we control the world with our minds. That’s what I’ll remember him by the most. He was a thinker. He was selfless.”
By his own admission, the two were very alike in many ways, including their mutual penchants for philanthropy: Ludacris is as giving as his late pal. He founded The Ludacris Foundation in 2001 as a way to inspire youth to live their dreams, and both gives and takes inspiration from 13-year-old daughter Karma with Karma’s World, a website which seeks to uplift and teach kids through educational children’s content and songs (he also has another daughter, 14-month-old Cai, of whom he recently won primary custody).
If you’re surprised that the man who could sing a track like “Move, B***h” could be so philanthropic, prepare yourself to be shocked even further: Ludacris is a multi-faceted, highly strategic businessman. Not only is he the co-founder of Disturbing tha Peace Records, but he also owns a series of restaurants named after his 2003 album Chicken-n-Beer, the latest of which will open in the Atlanta airport this year. He also admits to having a successful career in real estate, of which, among other things, includes renting and house-flipping.
One thing is for sure: Luda is a busy man, and one day in the “ludaverse” is never the same as the next. On the particular day he cites as an example, he dropped his daughter off in Atlanta, hopped on a plane to Los Angeles, stopped by the Universal lot to do pick-up shots for Furious 7, met with a movie producer about an upcoming project, visited both Afrojack and Pharrell Williams in the studio, and hosted a party.
If you think his life is all work and no play, you’d be wrong: he definitely allows for some personal time When it comes to his personal life—like his work his life—Ludacris doesn’t do anything halfway. He proposed to longtime girlfriend Eudoxie Mbouguiyengue during a vacation to Costa Rica over the holidays while in air projecting, “Eudoxie, will you marry me?” on the grass below. He married her the same week.
“We had been waiting to do it for a long time, and it came towards the end of 2014 and it was one of those times that we were like, ‘Why wait until we get into the new year?’ It was spur of the moment,” he says of his wedding. The couple will also break tradition with their honeymoon period. “We’re going to have plenty of honeymoons. We’re going to completely defy the traditional way of doing things!” he vows.
That sounds about right. Despite all of his wealth and success—he’s won three Grammys, a Critics’ Choice award, and a SAG award, among other accolades—he still drives around in a beloved 1993 Acura Legend. Don’t even try to suggest he get rid of his ride: this baby is here to stay—especially now that his ‘vintage’ car has been given an upgrade.
“I was driving on the highway, and I was in accident. It wasn’t my fault, but my car got wrecked,” he relates. “So recently I went to the revealing of the new Acura NSX. I was telling all the Acura people my story about getting into an accident because I wanted them to know that I planned on fixing it. That’s how important this brand is to me—that I’ve had this car for 20 years and still wanted to keep it even when I had to pay a lot of money to fix it. So now, the Acura people are going to fix my car and soup it up. Talk about a kid in a candy store: I couldn’t have been more excited.”
Mind you, Ludacris might keep his Acura Legend around for nostalgic reasons, but he’s also the proud owner of a very new, very nifty Hawker 700 airplane. He’s well aware of the diversity this presents, and completely owns it: it sums him up completely. In fact, he has a photo of his old ride parked in front of his new jet, and loved the contrast so much that he even turned the shot into the cover of Ludaversal.
“That [photo] describes my life to a T,” he confesses. “It’s basically from where I started to where I’m at now. I still have both, so it’s the balance of who I am. I’m a very humble individual; I don’t let stardom get to my head, and I’m holding on to things that keep me grounded like my Acura, yet sometimes I flex and ball out of f****ng control and I get on my private plane and fly. It’s like the yin and the yang of who I am as a complete individual. That damn Acura and that plane is the perfect dichotomy of who I am.”
There’s more, of course. This is a man who has photography books strewn around his house, but doesn’t know how to take photos. He is a man who owns a restaurant yet, by his own admission, “can’t cook for s**t.” However, like we’ve mentioned before, this is a man who also sets out to achieve, accomplish, and conquer.
“The only thing I know how to cook right now is tacos, and that sucks. When I’m hungry, I want to eat—I don’t want to cook. That will all change very soon though, because I’m going to learn how to cook,” he says with intention. “I’m getting my patience down. It’s like piano: you know when the chords sound right, but that doesn’t mean you know how to play them!”
Something tells us Ludacris will learn.
1. What was the first high-end watch you bought?
A Rolex of course. That’s like the go-to rapper watch. It had a pearl face with the diamond embezzled. It was platinum if I’m not mistaken.
2. Tell us about your collection, what pieces do you own?
A Hublot, a Rolex, an Audemars Piguet, and I have a vintage Rolex also.
3. What’s on your list to get?
I want to get a Girard-Perregaux,
a Richard Mille and a Patek Philippe. They’re on the list.
4. What are your favorite brands?
Patek, Hublot, and I would say
5. I’ve read that your friends once gifted you with a Hublot. Was that the best present you’ve ever received or what? If not, what was?
That damn Hublot. That was a
present for my birthday. Good stuff.