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 Ludacris
"Get Back"
(live on TRL)
Red Light District
(Def Jam)



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Ludacris' latest album may have the words "red light" in the title, but one of hip-hop's loudest and most consistent men on the mic doesn't have "stop" in his vocabulary. He's operating as if his life were just one long series of green lights: He has two new movies coming out this year, and he's continuing to work his fourth major-label release, The Red Light District, which debuted at #1 and is right on track to go triple-platinum like all of his other albums. And despite a couple of disappointments in his Disturbing Tha Peace camp (Chingy left the fold citing mismanagement, jealousy and lies, and the debut albums by I-20 and Shawnna came and went late last year almost unnoticed), you'll be hard-pressed to find Luda without his omnipresent grin.

Here he gives MTV News' Sway a different take on Chingy's departure, insists he doesn't wish Bill O'Reilly or T.I. any malice, and explains why he'll wait for you to admit he's your favorite rapper.


Sway: Chingy has insinuated that because his first album outsold your last one, Chicken-N-Beer, that maybe he wouldn't get the same opportunities he normally would with Disturbing Tha Peace. You guys might not like him being more popular than you.

  Chingy
"Right Thurr"
Jackpot
(Capitol/EMI Records)
Ludacris: "Right Thurr" was like the biggest single of the year. I was completely blown away and happy as hell about that, and then you have "Holidae In," another smash record, and then you have the last song, which is "One Call Away." So basically what I'm trying to say is, I'm happy as hell! Of course I'm getting the cut off [of all this], so how am I not going to be happy about this?

Let me tell you why there's no friction. My first album sold 3 million records, but then you got to do it again, and then you got to do it again, and then you got to do it again. It's about longevity, it's about consistency. You can't do it one time and then be like, "I'm the world!" You got to continue, you've got to prove yourself over and over again. You've got to power ball.

Sway: Well let's talk about that. All of your albums have gone multiplatinum. Even at a time when you weren't considered a flagship artist at your label, Def Jam, you were outselling most of the artists on that label, but people weren't putting you in that light. It seems like you kind of confront that issue throughout The Red Light District.

Ludacris: We're starting to get a whole lot more songs where I'm kind of demanding my respect, I would say. I really love when people come up to me on the street and say, "You're my favorite rapper." That means a lot to me because I've always wanted to be in that vein. But I'm patient. I didn't expect it immediately. But now it's to the point where I'm demanding my respect and I feel like it's that time. I've never been a cocky individual, but I am very confident.

  "We're starting to get a whole lot more songs where I'm kind of demanding my respect."

- Ludacris
Sway: In that song "Number One Spot" — I know this is going to haunt you for a long time — you make reference to Bill O'Reilly. Do you feel vindicated by the recent turmoil in his career due to his being accused of sexual harassment?

Ludacris: I never wished anything negative upon this individual, but it's just funny how it happened because that was karma at its finest. Now he knows what it feels like to be judged and not have people really know the person that he is. He puts a lot of negative energy out there about people he doesn't know, and the same exact thing just happened to him. Do I feel vindicated? It's just funny to me.

Sway: How much stress did you go through with that situation you had with Bill O'Reilly, where you lost a Pepsi endorsement deal thanks to his complaining about your lyrics? Did it change you at all as an artist or how you approach making records?

Ludacris: I think a lot of people get it twisted, like it would be something that would really stress me out. I'm not going to lie, maybe a little bit, for maybe one or two days. And then when people ask me about it, maybe for like one or two minutes. But it doesn't really stress me out. Man, my family is taken care of. There is nothing that can harm me. That's how I feel about it. Did I become a better man because of it? I would definitely say yes, because, really, it just made me realize what corporate America is all about and that sometimes life is not fair. It just made me want to learn more about corporations as a whole and more about individuals like this man Bill O'Reilly. That's all it did.

Sway: I always wanted to ask you about this one record you did with Young Buck called "Stomp." T.I. was on the record, too, and it seemed like he took a shot at you. Is that what he did? Did he really come after you?

Ludacris: It's really crazy, because before the record even came out I sat down and talked to this individual and basically he told me the reason that he said my name on his record was because one of his homeboys came and told him that he saw somebody wearing a Trap Muzik T-shirt in one of my music videos getting beat up. So he thought that was subliminal. Now, after wondering what he was talking about, I realized that it was a Trap Wear shirt — my artist Tity Boi has a clothing line called Trap Wear that has absolutely nothing to do with this individual. If anybody seen my videos or any of my artists' videos, you see us wearing these Trap Wear T-shirts. And it wasn't even my video, this was an I-20 video and it was called "Fightin' in the Club." And I really was thinking that this was ludicrous after I understood why he said it. A lot of beefs in the music industry are caused from miscommunication and just not really understanding what's going on, having people in your ear saying this is what somebody did, or this is what somebody did to you. And that's where it came about.

And I guess he got on the record first, since Young Buck, G-Unit, 50 ... those are all like my homeboys, and they called me and told me this man is saying my name in a record. And I was like, "Oh, really?" And they said, "Do you want to get on the record?" The fact is I was blessed enough to be able to make my response on the same damn record. And there you have it. Eventually I guess his record company took him off the record, but I was able to stay on. But we talked even before the album came out.

  "It's not just the South, it's not just the East, it's not the West, I'm going for across the world, you know what I'm saying?"
Sway: So what's the status of that? Are we going to hear more back-and-forth lyric play between you and T.I.? Or did you guys squash that?

Ludacris: We pretty much squashed that.

Sway: A lot of cats come out and they say they're the "king of the South," but like you said, you been selling records for a long time. Do you take offense when you hear that kind of thing?

Ludacris: It doesn't bother me at all, man. Titles are titles. People call me "the mouth of the South." I'll call myself "the king of the kings," you know what I mean? I'm trying to be number one all the way around. It's not just the South, it's not just the East, it's not the West, I'm going for across the world, you know what I'm saying? This is where I'm coming from.


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Photo: Def Jam

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Ludacris
"Get Back"
Red Light District
(Def Jam South)



Ludacris
"Diamond In The Back"
Red Light District
(Def Jam South)


Ludacris
"Southern Fried"
(live on TRL)
Red Light District
(Def Jam South)



Ludacris
"Stand Up"
(live on TRL)
Red Light District
(Def Jam South)




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