Ludacris, the self-proclaimed “Mouth of The South” is a modern day renaissance man. Multi-platinum selling rapper. Label owner. Actor. Alcoholic spirit owner. Headphones hawker. Restaurateur. Pitchman. This brother’s multi-revenue streams keep his cash flowin’ and opportunities comin’. Check the hustle:
Rapper Hustle: He’s come a long way from his days on Atlanta’s Hot 97.5 (now Hot 107) as on-air personality Chris Lova Lova and releasing his independent debut, Incognegro. Since getting into the music game in 2000, Luda has established himself as one of the most consistent emcees in the rap genre. Every album he’s released has gone gold or platinum. That’s seven albums and counting, not to mention the millions he’s mined through digital sales. In total, Ludacris has sold more than 20 million albums. He’s won five BET Awards, three Grammys and three MTV Awards. Ludaversal, his sequel to 2008’s Theater of The Mind is slated to drop later this year.
Label Owner Hustle: When Ludacris started recording professionally, instead of signing to a major label, he first invested in himself by signing to his own imprint, Disturbing Tha Peace. That way, he’s guaranteed to be in control of his own career and collect the lion’s share of profits generated from his recordings. Home to his Disturbing Tha Peace Click (Shawnna, Chingy, I-20, Lil’ Fate, Bobby V, Playas Circle, Field Mob, etc). DTP has released three successful compilations (Ludacris Presents … Disturbing Tha Peace, Golden Grain & Strength in Numbers) and produced the platinum selling Playas Circle-Lil’ Wayne assisted smash, “Duffle Bag Boy.” DTP’s biggest success came from former member Chingy’s Jackpot, which moved 2 million copies behind the single “Right Thurr,” the biggest seller outside of Luda’s own LPs. (Field Mob, Chingy, Shawnna and Tity Boi have all since left the label to varying degrees of acrimony). Ironically, Tity Boi has blown up since flying the DTP coop and changing his name: These days, he’s known as the hottest rapper on the planet, 2 Chains.
Actor Hustle: Chris Bridges’ big personality has transitioned effortlessly from his hilarious music videos to the big screen. His film debut in the Oscar-winning Crash as Anthony, an urban carjacker and philosopher supreme, gained critical praise. The cast won a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Luda was also featured in the Academy Award-nominated Hustle & Flow as rapper Skinny Black. His performance as Mickey in Guy Ritchie’s Rock N’ Rolla didn’t stretch boundaries, but he didn’t embarrass himself, something we can’t say for many of his rapper/actor peers. He’s had a string of other roles: Tej Walker in 2 Fast 2 Furious and Fast Five in the Fast & Furious franchise, Jim Bravura in Max Payne, and supporting roles in rom-coms New Year’s Eve and No Strings Attached.
Cognac Conniseur Hustle: Luda is 50% owner of Conjure cognac, a spirit he first introduced via the mixptape, Conjure: Hustla’s Spirit. The cognac has been heavily featured in the rapper’s videos and during a national roll out, the brand has moved a reported 100,000 cases in the last calendar year. Conjure was the winner of Beverage Information Group’s Rising Star Award and a gold medalist in both the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the 2011 Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America Tasting Competition.
Headphones Hustle: SOUL headphones is Luda’s foray into the burgeoning artist endorsed/owned headphone market. His sleek headphones have fared pretty well and have been better reviewed than competition like Beats By Dre. While not a groundbreaking foray — 50 Cent, Snoop, Jay-Z, Diddy, Justin Bieber and RZA all have their own line of headphones — it’s a business that does bolster the bottom line.
Pitchman Hustle: Luda has lent his voice to RadioShack to pitch their stores and products, including his own SOUL headphones line. The spots often incorporate Luda’s songs (one featured his song “#1 Spot”).
Restaurant Hustle: Ludacris announced a new food venture, the Chicken n’ Beer eatery to be located in the newly redesigned Concourse D of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, the world’s busiest international hub. Named after his third album, this is Bridge’s second foray into the restaurant biz. He closed his first spot, the successful Asian fusion Straits in Atlanta to focus on his new venture. Hmmmm. A Black man slangin’ chicken and beer? In the deep South? Okay, maybe ‘Cris will be the new Colonel Sanders. Just no Mary J/Burger King mishaps. Please.
Humanitarian Hustle: Bridges started the Ludacris Foundation when he began his Rap career. Founded in 2011, the foundation’s main focus is “to inspire the youth through education, memorable experiences and helping the youth help themselves” stressing leadership, education and healthy lifestyles. The LudaCares initiative addresses hunger in urban areas, sponsors the annual LudaCrismas Christmas parties giving out toys and healthy meals, provides performances for the military and hospital visits to injured and infirm servicemen & women. Initially, it served the Atlanta, Bankhead community but has since branched out to New York City, Miami , DC and Los Angeles. The foundation also works with The Make A Wish Foundation.
Education Hustle: In 2011, Ludacris started Karma’s World with his 10 year-old daughter Karma, an online educational site that utilizes music to promote education providing lesson plans to parents and teachers for Grades 1 through 6. Karma isn’t just the inspiration for the site, she’s also the CEO (her famous father serves as VP). She’s in charge of content development, characterization and optimizing content for students and kids like herself. Daddy, that’s dope.