Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
In hip-hop, family can be everything. Most rappers are affiliated with one clique of artists or another. For Ludacris, it's Disturbing Tha Peace (DTP).
The group and the label of the same name serve as the Atlanta-based rapper's foundation. So, it only makes sense that they take center stage on his third Def Jam South set, "Chicken & Beer" (Oct. 7).
Lead single "Stand Up," which features DTP member Shawnna, is a prime example.
"'Stand Up' is an energetic record," Ludacris says. "It's an uptempo record that is both male- and female-friendly. That's what it's going to make people do when they hear it -- stand the f*** up! It's a club banger."
Shawnna isn't the only DTP clique member featured on "Chicken & Beer." The rest of the DTP family -- Chingy, I-20, Titty Boy and Lil' Fate -- also appear on the set. Ludacris sees his album as a platform not only for him but for DTP as well.
"I'm trying to promote other [DTP] artists as well as to promote this album," Ludacris says. "For example, 'P Poppin' features Shawnna and Lil' Fate, two of the artists signed to Def Jam South through Disturbing Tha Peace. That's why I put those two on that record without even second-guessing. I wanted to give them that exposure."
Ludacris' first two sets, "Back for the First Time" and "Word of Mouf," have sold more than 2.9 million and 3.3 million units in the U.S., respectively, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Ludacris believes that "Chicken & Beer" will not only satisfy his core fan base but will also earn him more followers.
"As time goes past, I'm definitely trying to get better and better at the skill," Ludacris says. "This album is taking that next step. When you thought it couldn't get any wilder, crazier or more versatile, I'm going to surprise people again by letting them know I can rap so many different ways. That's what I'm here to do."
In addition to his music, Ludacris launched his film career this summer with a role in "2 Fast 2 Furious." While he is currently reading more scripts, the rapper does not see himself working just in front of the camera.
"We sold a script to MTV/Paramount called 'Skip Day,'" he says. "It's like a 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' meets 'House Party.' You know how in high school all the seniors will pick a day to skip class before they graduate? That's the idea. There is a lot of other movie stuff that I'm trying out for, but it's not in stone right now."
While Hollywood looks ready for Ludacris, he isn't going to put down the microphone just yet. He believes he still has a lot to accomplish as an artist and an executive.
"Being the CEO [of the Disturbing Tha Peace label] and an artist at the same time takes a lot of work," Ludacris says. "It's a lot more than people might think. You have to invest a lot of time, make sure everything is in the right place and make strategic moves for everybody -- not just me.
"That's what's important," he adds. "The bigger we become as a unit, the better we are as a company, and the more success we'll have."
Excerpted from the Sept. 20, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
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