By Linnie Rawlinson for CNN
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"People can either love me or hate me, but they'll always respect me."
Atlantan rapper Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges hit stardom with his wry, witty and debauched verbal dexterity, and his drive and ambition have seen him expand from music mogul to accomplished actor, entrepreneur and community benefactor.
Charged with putting the dirty into Dirty South with his provocative, explicit lyrics, his major-label debut on Def Jam, 'Back for the first time' (2000) featured the Neptunes-produced 'Southern Hospitality' and Timbaland collaboration 'Phat Rabbit' alongside the steamy 'What's your fantasy'.
Multi-platinum follow-up 'Word of Mouf' and the Billboard #1 albums 'Chicken and Beer' and 'Red Light District' have underlined his flamboyant reputation. With a style that veers between crunk and old school, comedy and bling, and which he describes as "crazy and wild and ridiculous", Ludacris is sometimes cartoonish, often offensive, and always controversial. His extensive collaborations include Mary J Blige, LL Cool J, Missy Elliot, Pharrell, and an appearance with Lil Jon on Usher's Grammy-award-winning "Yeah".
Luda's latest album, 'Release Therapy', signals a move to a more mature sound. His Southern-fried party pieces sit alongside more introspective tracks, and Luda says, "I felt like a wiser, more intelligent person. That was part of the vibe I wanted to bring across on the record, a more personal side that many have not seen."
He says that "part of being a complex person is a balance of many things," and he's received critical acclaim as an actor, most notably in the Oscar-winning Crash (2004) and Hustle and Flow (2005). As CEO of Disturbing Tha Peace records, he has nurtured fresh hip-hop talent, and away from the bump 'n' grind, his work with the Ludacris Foundation helps young people develop skills to achieve their musical and educational aims.
Ludacris is one of the leading exponents of "Dirty South" hip-hop
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