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The Scene catches up with Ludacris to talk hip-hop hustling, movie-making and sweet Southern soul food ...
The Scene: When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
Ludacris: I'd always wanted to do music since before I can remember; I'd always loved music. My family were very encouraging -- my father was a music lover, and I always woke up to music. He played everything from James Brown to Michael Jackson, just a little bit of everything each and every day.
TS: Where do you go to listen to new music?
L: Believe it or not, it's the strip club, and I know that's going to sound strange to a lot of people, but a strip club in Atlanta is not only a facility where you can see beautiful women shaking their money makers, so to speak, but it's also a club atmosphere where you go to hear music before it even hits the radio and politic with different people in the music industry. You have different producers, artists -- Jermaine Du Pre, Dallas Austin, Goodie Mob, Outkast, or myself -- so it's almost like you're going to a rap convention sometimes. That's usually where you get the most concentrated amount of music people.
TS: Do you like making movies?
L: I love making movies. It's definitely something I want to do more of. It's kind of hard balancing out music and movies, and I have to focus on one thing at a time. I don't want to rap for the rest of my life but I can definitely see myself acting for the rest of my life. It was great working with so many veteran actors [on Crash] because I learnt so much. I didn't know I had that talent until I got onscreen, but I'm the biggest critic of myself; I always notice things I can do better.
TS: What do you love about Atlanta?
L: There are so many great entrepreneurs here on their hustle out to feed their families and create business opportunities for themselves in order to provide for generations to come. Auburn Avenue is a perfect example -- it gave birth to some of the first black millionaires.
TS: When you're away from Atlanta, what do you miss most?
L: The feeling of being here, the pine trees, the people -- I definitely miss the people. I really feel like we stick together. A lot of people do songs together here; a perfect example would be myself, Usher and Lil Jon, we all had projects out at the same time and they all went multi-platinum. The one thing I hear when I go to different states is they love how much Atlanta artists stick together. It traces back to a culture where everyone knows there's enough room for everybody and we all know we're stronger together than we are separate. That's powerful, and it goes far beyond music.
TS: What do you think about the traffic in AL?
L: The traffic in Atlanta has got worse over the years, of course, but I still don't think it's as bad as LA, New York, Miami or Chicago. It's getting pretty bad, but see, I know all the shortcuts and I know how to get around, I'm pretty good at that.
TS: What's the deal with soul food?
L: Soul food is food for the soul, it's a deep-rooted family tradition where people cook and it brings the family together. I think that southern cooking has a lot to do with the attitudes and the way of the people. Families get together to barbecue and have a good time, they have ancestors who used to cook and they pass down these different ways of cooking greens, sweet potatoes, corn bread, black eyed peas, chicken, it goes back to the soul.
TS: What makes you laugh?
L: My daughter cracks me up all the time, she's five years old and she makes me laugh all the time. I learn things from her every day. I learn more from her than she does from me. I was a kid who had a kid and she made me a grown up. She made me think about not only myself, I had someone else to take care of and take responsibility for. You look at life a whole new way, you're not just looking out for yourself any more.
Ludacris: "I'd always wanted to do music"