Coming off of two consecutive mainstream chart-toppers -- 2004's Chicken-N-Beer and last year's The Red Light District -- Ludacris has made his name as a multiplatinum-selling Hot-lanta rapper. But now Luda's a little worried that, despite all that hip-hop sweat, people may start confusing him with an actor named Chris Bridges.
"Some people know me from my movies but not my music -- and that's just absolutely crazy to me," says the rapper, who made his breakthrough acting turn (under his real name, Bridges) in two Oscar-winning films this year, Hustle and Flow and Best Picture Crash. "That just goes to show the power of Hollywood."
Fans will soon discover that that power has bled into the rapper's sound as well, with the release of his latest album, Release Therapy, this August. "A lot of my music is definitely being influenced by me doing movies," says Ludacris, who has come to see music "as kind of a theater of the mind." One new track, produced by Timbaland and tentatively dubbed "Based on a True Story," finds the rapper "saying my life is a motion picture. I'm using metaphors that have film words and different phrases in it to explain my life story in three different verses of a song."
In addition to Timbaland, Ludacris says St. Louis' the TrakStarz, collaborator DJ Nasty, and Neptunes mastermind and solo artist Pharrell will work on two songs, including the track "Girls Gone Wild." "His beats -- I feel like they're ahead of their time," the rapper says of Pharrell.
"I'm extremely excited. I'm curious to see how this is going to go," Ludacris admits of his return to his Number One game. "Music was my first love to begin with. I'm ready to get back out there -- and raise the stakes."