If there’s anything I want to make history at, it’s being the most versatile MC ever,” says Atlanta rapper Ludacris, 26. “I want to be able to make somebody fight, or make someone laugh, or make someone damn near cry.” Ludacris’ spitfire flow and comedic wit take center stage on his new album, Chicken-N-Beer, where ‘Cris breaks hip-hop ground by name-checking everyone from Pepe Le Pew to Bob Costas. “Feels pretty good to be seated at Number One,” he says of the record, which topped the charts its first week, selling more than 425,000 copies. “Especially over Elvis, whose new album’s called 2nd to None.”
What is your first musical memory?
When my dad bought me the U.T.F.O. record “Roxanne, Roxanne.” I was about five or six, it was on vinyl, and I just loved the hell out of that song. That made me want to rap.
What was your first rap?
I started rapping when I was nine, but I needed something to rhyme with girlfriend, so I had a line that said “ten,” even though I was nine. [Raps] “I’m cool, I’m bad, I might be ten/But I can’t survive without my girlfriend.”
So you were rapping in the schoolyard?
Yeah. Fourth grade was when people started hearing me rhyme. After school or in the lunch yard, I started getting people gathered around. Everybody was always asking me to rap, so I had to come to school with new shit all the time.
Where’d you spend your first royalty check? How much was it?
You know, the first big check I got was when I signed [to Def Jam]. I can’t tell you how much it was — that’d be wrong. But I can say that it was over half a million dollars. I put that shit straight in the bank, man. It felt good that I had that much money in the bank. It made my fucking world.
What musician has had the tightest Afro?
Probably that dude in the Roots, the drummer [Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson]. I usually keep my hair braided. It’s hard to maintain walking around with that shit everywhere. And when you’re having sex with a lot of women, your hair needs to be pinned down somewhere. You’re supposed to pull on the woman’s hair, she’s not supposed to pull on yours.
Your video for “P-Poppin’ ” features strippers. Will that hip-hop cliché ever get old?
Hell, no, man. That’ll never get old. Sex sells, from day one to the end of time, dawg. How much does the porno industry make in one year? Like, a billion dollars. In that video, all I did was display what goes on in Atlanta, Georgia — in the most popular strip club, Magic City.
What’s your best rhyme on Chicken-N-Beer?
“I own so many jerseys, I’m a throwback mess/I hit the cleaners and tell ’em I want a full-court press.”
What rap do you wish you wrote?
My favorite line of all time is by my man Cam’ron. [Laughing hysterically] He said, “I love to fuck bitches, all I do is fuck bitches/But after I fuck bitches, I’m like, ‘Fuck, bitches!'” That’s the hardest line ever.
What’s your favorite TV theme song?
The Jeffersons! That’s every black person’s favorite TV theme. Because we movin’ on up!
What are your favorite rock songs?
I like “Scar Tissue,” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Blurry,” by Puddle of Mudd — that’s, like, my number one — and “My Sacrifice,” by Creed. And that “Kryptonite” song, by 3 Doors Down.
Do you listen to classic rock?
Hell, yeah! Like Hall and Oates and shit like that? I like Phil Collins. I like Michael McDonald. That dude is off the hook! I think he’s really black. I’m not big on albums. I go to the studio and take certain things off them and put them on one CD. Like, “Rock Mix 1” and “Rock Mix 2.”
So you must have a “Sex Mix 1″and “Sex Mix 2,” right?
You better know I got a couple of those. Shit like “Between the Sheets,” by the Isley Brothers. New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain?” And Janet Jackson always has at least two sex songs on her albums.
Do you have any music-related bling?
I got a ring that’s a star. It’s music-related because after breaking a million records, you’re officially becoming what the dictionary calls a superstar. This might sound corny, but I got handcuffs on my necklace because I got the music game on lock! [Laughs]
Speaking of rings, what’s your cell-phone ring?
Man, I keep my shit on vibrate.