Ludacris Feels ‘The Energy’ At First Bonnaroo Performance

The Atlanta rapper performs his first set at Bonnaroo, while Black Star's Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey make their return.

Ludacris’ 8th album Ludaversal is due out in September, and the Atlanta rapper’s Friday night set (June 8) at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival was a loud reminder that he has seven albums worth of hits to perform when he takes the stage. He took fans back a decade with singles like “Southern Hospitality,” and in the early morning hours Black Star delivered some classics as well.

Luda got things rolling with the “Southern Fried Intro” from his Chicken-n-Beer album, during an hour-plus set, which found him running through hits you might’ve forgotten that you’d known. Early bangers like ‘Number One Spot,” “Act A Fool,” and even “Area Codes” kept the crowd pulsating, but from the conversations nearby it was easy to tell that Luda still had plenty of untouched material. Overheard nearby, 20 minutes into the show: “He hasn’t done ‘What’s Your Fantasy,’ he hasn’t touched that s— yet!”

He eventually did perform “What’s Your Fantasy,” in addition to sentimental gems like “Growing Pains,” but in the midst of classics Ludacris took a break to deliver his features on pop singles like Usher’s “Yeah!” Taio Cruz’s “Break Your Heart (Remix)” and even Black Eyed Peas’ “Glamorous.” Even then, there was still plenty left to close the show, including “Stand Up,” which came before the final two tracks of the night, “Move Bitch” and “Get Back.”

Before Ludacris hit the stage on Friday MTV News caught up with him for some feedback on his first visit to Bonnaroo. “I’ve heard a lot about this festival, I love that it’s so many different genres of music and people are just here to enjoy the music, period,” he said. “Radiohead is performing, Phish is performing and I just love the energy. It’s my first time [here], but I guarantee it won’t be my last.”

“This is one of those times where you experiment and really get with the crowd, change your show up and progress even more,” he added, noting that he might be on stage for while. “You’re taking about 7 albums worth of material–I’m gonna do songs from everything. I might be on stage for an hour and a half!”

A few hours after Ludacris’ performance, with the final minutes of Radiohead’s headlining set winding down, fans gathered early at “That Tent” to catch Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) perform their material as Black Star. The duo took the stage a bit later than their scheduled set time, to impatient chants from the crowd. They ran through an energetic set that included “Fix Up,” “Definition’ and their rendition of “Children’s Story,” which segued into a brief tribute to Slick Rick and legends like Whitney Houston and J Dilla. Before they wrapped things, fans also got a taste of Reflection Eternal’s “In This World” and Kweli’s popular single “Get By.”

A native of Grenada, a product of Brooklyn, a student of hip-hop.
@neweryork