Christopher Brian Bridges (born September 11, 1977), known professionally as Ludacris (/ˈluːdəkrɪs/), is an American rapper and actor. After forming his own label, Disturbing tha Peace in the late 1990s, Ludacris later signed with Def Jam South and would go on to become one of the first Dirty South rappers to achieve mainstream success with his subsequent releases. For his music, Ludacris has won an MTV Video Music Award and three Grammy Awards.
Born in Champaign, Illinois, Ludacris moved to Atlanta at age nine, where he first began rapping. After a brief stint as a DJ, he independently released his first album Incognegro in 1999 to limited success, but achieved national attention the following year with his major label debut, Back for the First Time, which contained the hit singles "Southern Hospitality" and "What's Your Fantasy". In 2001, he released Word of Mouf, followed by Chicken-n-Beer in 2003 and The Red Light District in 2004, all of which were certified multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). He took a more serious approach with his next two albums, Release Therapy (2006), and Theater of the Mind (2008). His next record, Battle of the Sexes, was released in 2010 and featured a return to the more lighthearted tone of his previous albums. His most recent effort, Ludaversal, was released on March 31, 2015.
As an actor, Ludacris is best known for his role as Tej Parker in The Fast and the Furious film series, with his first appearance in the franchise coming in 2002. His other notable roles include Crash (2004), Gamer (2009), and New Year's Eve (2011). For his performances as Parker, Ludacris has won both a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Critic's Choice Award.
Christopher Brian Bridges was born in Champaign, Illinois, the only child of Roberta Shields and Wayne Brian Bridges. He later moved to the Chicago area, where he attended Emerson Middle School in Oak Park. He then moved to Centreville, Virginia and attended Centreville High School for one year. He attended Banneker High School in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated in 1995. From 1998 to 1999, he studied music management at Georgia State University. Bridges is of African American, English, and Native American ancestry. He is a distant cousin of late comedian Richard Pryor. Bridges wrote his first rap song at age nine when moving to Atlanta, and joined an amateur rap group three years later.
1998–2000: Incognegro and Back for the First Time
Bridges served as an intern and then a DJ at Atlanta's Hot 97.5 (now Hot 107.9) under the name "Chris Lova Lova". He was also known for DJing during Freaknik at one point. Ludacris collaborated with Timbaland on the track "Phat Rabbit" from his album Tim's Bio: Life from da Bassment. This song was a hit in many countries. In 1998, Ludacris began to record his debut album Incognegro, which was eventually released by his then-independent label, Disturbing tha Peace, in August 1999. This album was the defining example of Ludacris' fast, wild, and comedic flow, a unique style for southern rappers. The album was supported by his debut single "What's Your Fantasy", which ended up peaking at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite its poor sales, it landed the artist a record deal with the Southern based division of Def Jam Recordings (Def Jam South) due to the success of its singles. In 2000, Ludacris released his major label debut Back for the First Time. The album reached number four on the U.S. Billboard 200, and was a major success. The album made its mark on the industry with singles such as "Southern Hospitality" (featuring Pharrell Williams) and "Area Codes" (featuring Nate Dogg). Guest appearances included 4-Ize, I-20, Shawnna, Pastor Troy, Timbaland, Trina, Foxy Brown, UGK, and others. Ludacris stated in an interview on MTV's hip hop program Direct Effect that he came up with his stage name based on his "split personality" that he considered "ridiculous" and "ludicrous".
2001–2003: Word of Mouf and Chicken-n-Beer
Ludacris promptly completed his next album, Word of Mouf, and released it at the end of 2001. The video for the lead single, "Rollout (My Business)", was nominated for a 2002 Grammy Award, and Ludacris performed it live at the awards' pre-show. He released singles "Saturday (Oooh Oooh)" with Sleepy Brown, "Move Bitch" with Mystikal and I-20, and "Area Codes" with Nate Dogg.
During the spring of 2003, Ludacris returned to the music scene after a brief hiatus with a new single, "Act a Fool", from the 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack. At around the same time, he released the lead single from his album Chicken-n-Beer, called "P-Poppin" (short for "Pussy Poppin'"). Neither of his new singles were as well received by either the urban or pop audiences as his previous songs had been, and both music videos received only limited airplay. Chicken-N-Beer opened strongly, but without a popular single, the album fell quickly. Guest appearances include Playaz Circle, Chingy, Snoop Dogg, 8Ball & MJG, Lil' Flip, I-20, Lil Fate, and Shawnna.
In the fall of 2003, Ludacris rebounded with his next single, "Stand Up", which appeared on both Chicken-n-Beer as well as the soundtrack for the teen hip hop/dance movie You Got Served. Produced by Kanye West, "Stand Up" went on to become one of Ludacris' biggest mainstream hits to date, hitting the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 garnering heavy airplay on mainstream pop, rhythmic, and urban radio stations, as well as on MTV, MTV2, and BET. Ludacris was sued by a New Jersey group called I.O.F. who claimed that "Stand Up" used a hook from one of their songs, but in June 2006, a jury found that the song did not violate copyrights. "I hope the plaintiffs enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame," Ludacris said after the verdict
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