Ludacris' story is the hip-hop equivalent of the kid working his way up from the dingy mailroom to the bling-bling boardroom. In just a few years, the rapper has gone from being an intern at one of Atlanta's leading hip-hop stations to having his songs become radio staples in the Dirty South and beyond.
To hear him tell it, he was literally born to rap. At the age of 3, little Chris Bridges was already going to college parties with his parents. He recorded his first rap at age 9 and joined his first rap crew three years later.
After making a name for himself with his between-song promotional spots on WHAT-FM in his hometown of Atlanta, Ludacris, 21, self-released his debut, Incognegro, on his Disturbing the Peace Entertainment label, selling more than 30,000 copies with virtually no promotion. The album caught the ear of new Def Jam South head rapper Scarface, who made the rowdy, raunchy MC the first signing to the label.
With hot-shot producers the Neptunes, Organized Noize, Jermaine Dupri and Timbaland on board to freshen up the sound of Incognegro, the album was re-released in October with the new title Back for the First Time. The fat bounce of songs such as the stuttering breakout hit "What's Your Fantasy" and the minimal funk tune "Southern Hospitality" has helped propel the album past the platinum mark and into the Billboard top 10.
Rahman Dukes and Shari Scorca threw some 'bows with Ludacris, who talked about the origins of his sound, having all his fantasies come true and why Napster might not be such a bad thing ... for other folks.