Top 20 Hot 100 Songwriters, 2000-Present
Ludacris

Ludacris tells Billboard.com that his eighth studio album, "Ludaversal," is on track for a May release, and that the highly anticipated full-length will feature a familiar collaborator.

" Usher is one person that I've already worked with," says Ludacris, "and in terms of other artists, you can say that there's going to be a lot of surprises on here." Ludacris and Usher previously collaborated on the latter's smash single "Yeah!," which featured Lil Jon and topped the Hot 100 for 12 weeks in 2004, as well as Lil Jon's "Lovers and Friends," which peaked at No. 3 on the chart.

The follow-up to 2010's "Battle of the Sexes" is still "in the beginning stages" for the Atlanta rapper, who tided fans over by releasing the mixtape "1.21 Gigawatts: Back To The First Time" in November. "I get the beats together and I put out my ideas, so I'd say we're maybe about 40 percent done," says the rapper (real name: Chris Bridges) about his forthcoming album. Last year, he confirmed to Billboard.com that the Neptunes, who produced his past hits "Southern Hospitality" and "Money Maker," contributed to his latest effort. "I've pretty much collected about 80 percent of the beats that I need and I've started writing ideas on them. First I have to love the beat, absolutely love it."

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Ludacris spent 2011 continuing to hone his acting skills, with supporting roles in "No Strings Attached," "Fast Five" and "New Year's Eve." Meanwhile, he announced the opening of a new restaurant, Chicken & Beer, in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia last week, although the rapper has yet to specify when the eatery (which shares its name with Luda's third album) will open.

Ludacris says that the first single from "Ludaversal" will be released "probably within March," and that fans can expect the album to encapsulate everything within the Luda's ever-expanding world, as the title suggests. "It's been a minute since I've been away from music, and there is just so much to talk about," he says. "So [the album] is mostly about my personal life, my travels, my experiences, rumors, gossip -- you know, everything coming together in one."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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