Ludacris Talks Being Glossed Over as a Hip-Hop Legend: 'I Feel Like Sometimes the Flowers Aren't Given as Much'

He also talks about his new collab with State Farm, which hip-hop artist is always ahead of the times, and reveals the acting role he’s still vying for.

As a man of many hats, Ludacris’s impact is felt everywhere. From the action-packed “Fast & Furious” universe to the ever-changing rap game and everything in between, the multi-hyphenate always has his hands in something. On the heels of his newly-released Disney+ movie, “Dashing Through the Snow,” which stars Lil Rel Howery and Teyonah Parris, the hip-hop icon also appears in a new State Farm commercial. But that's not all he’s been up to.

Speaking to recently, Ludacris dished on his new State Farm collaboration, his plans to release new music next year, the state of hip-hop, and why it’s hard for people to give him his props as a rap legend.

Ludacris Talks Fitness And The ‘Privilege’ of Aging You’ve done a lot of brand collaborations over the years. What made State Farm feel like a natural fit?

Ludacris: Man, because they're in the service industry, and I'm in the service industry when it comes to giving back and being a good neighbor. I've always been about community and starting in our communities first in terms of everyone being able to lend a helping hand and make the world a better place. So, I definitely love partnering with brands that are all about service and giving back, and I think that this is a perfect opportunity. I've also been with State Farm for all my automotive and other insurance needs for over two decades, so why wouldn't it be the perfect [collaboration]? It’s been amazing to watch your career explode through the years. Did you ever predict that rap would pave the way for it to take off in other lanes?

Ludacris: I could not have predicted the way that this has gone. I'm just so thankful and so blessed. As with many music projects and movies and even collaborations like this, I love that it's so diversified, and I love it when I hear people like yourself say that because it's taking a risk every single time I do it. The whole stereotype of just being a rapper and trying to stay to one thing is comfortable and it's safe, but I just continue to take chances even with the role in this movie “Dashing [Through the Snow]” and this crazy stuff that I got going on in this State Farm commercial. So it's just like, I love that I am able to express myself in so many different ways. You have a new album coming out next year, right?

Ludacris: Yeah, some music projects will be coming out next year. I don't wanna fake, I don't wanna stutter-step. I don't wanna be like [André] 3000 and say, I got an album coming out. I don’t know. It's definitely some music coming next year, but I don't know if it's like an EP or an LP. We’re going to figure it out. It's been over eight years since you last dropped an album. What made you want to return to music after all this time? 

Ludacris: These movie projects like “Fast & Furious” and doing a lot of things like the “Karma’s World” project that's on Netflix. You know, doing other art forms where I’m creative, where I'm putting my heart into that, I want to make sure that I leave a legacy on this earth. So it was just taking a step back and getting hungry again, living some life. 'Cause when you put out music, in order for it to be organic and real, you gotta talk about what goes on in your life. So if I had like nine consistent albums, sometimes you gotta take a step back and live some life so that you have a lot more to talk about and that's what I was doing.

Statefarm I’m glad you can come back with that sentiment because I feel like there’s a stigma in hip-hop where fans think, after a certain age, artists are supposed to age out. But then you look at legends like Jay-Z and Nas who still have the culture’s ear today. 

Ludacris: Yeah and hip-hop just turned 50 so that's like a premature stigma because we are all growing older with hip-hop and so are the people that started in it. So people who are breaking those stereotypes, I absolutely love it. You can rap until you leave this earth and it's still going to be an audience because people are growing up with you. Absolutely. Can you speak more about what it’s been like to age and evolve with hip-hop and still be an example for some artists?

Ludacris: Man, I'm so competitive that I just want to continue to stay hungry and that's what I do. But I love that I can be a beacon of light and positivity and inspiration for other people who have come after me. But never get it twisted man, it was people like OutKast and André 3000 and Goodie Mob that were beacons of light for me and paved the way, so it goes two-fold. I’m glad you mentioned André 3000 again because I’d love to hear your thoughts on him pivoting to a new sound opposite of rap at this stage of his career.

Ludacris: I love it because his premise in how he explained it was, this is the art that is coming out of him. He reads the signs and I think he's very in tune with who he is and what is flowing creatively at the time. That's the best way I can say it. I can't wait to hear [the album]. So in terms of your new music, what can fans expect to hear you rap about now?

Ludacris: It's a little premature to answer that because I'm working on a lot of stuff. I don't want to prematurely say anything wrong but basically, you're asking me at a time when it might be too early, which is good from your standpoint, but give me some time, and then I'll be able to answer that better. Fair enough. In that case, for artists looking to establish longevity in music, what’s one piece of advice you’d offer?

Ludacris: I just feel like you have to continue to evolve with the times. That's what longevity is about. It's two things, like understanding the business of music. It’s great to be creative and be an artist but you gotta at least understand the parameters of what is going on in order to promote and market what the artistry is. And also just understanding how to evolve because the best of the best are the ones that are able to evolve with the times and with the music and continue to compete on a high level—knowing what the future holds and trying to get a grasp on that. Is there one artist you feel truly exemplifies that?

Ludacris: There are a few artists but I don't know why my heart wants to say that Kendrick Lamar to me is ahead of the times. Where you're supposed to be as an artist, he stays ahead of the times. You gotta catch up to what he does. Like when he drops the album's great, but you don't realize that it's even greater 2, 3, 4 years after he's dropped it. So I love artists that are that proactive and ahead of their time because a lot of them are catching what's trending at the time, but you got certain artists like that that are creating a path that years and years from now, people will realize how impactful it was. People already do 'cause this man has already won all types of awards. But I really respect how different he is and how far he takes things in terms of being in no one's lane but his own.

Statefarm 100%. Now, it’s been a busy year for you. “Fast X” came out earlier this year, you have “Dashing Through the Snow,” and you got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, too. What was that moment like for you?

Ludacris: Well, that was one of the best days of my life, man. The people that I love, family-wise, industry-wise, friend-wise, were all there to support me. It was a recognition that is great because it's tangible. You can actually go there, you can touch it, you can take pictures with it, so I was able to share that with people. If there was such a thing as a perfect day on earth as a human being, that day was it. Your acting catalog certainly contributed to that milestone. Is there a dream role you’d still like to add to that list?

Ludacris: Absolutely. I want to play the villain in one of these movies. I definitely would love to be a part of the Marvel universe or DC universe, but I wouldn't mind playing the villain that doesn't die. That's what I'm looking for—one of those roles or like a “Training Day” villain-type role. You talked a bit about hip-hop’s 50th anniversary and a lot of other rap veterans have reflected on its legacy this year. How confident are you in the future of hip-hop and the generation currently leading it?

Ludacris: Man, I love it. Like I said, I always embrace what's new and I think that it is so influential globally now. It’s going to continue to cross into other genres and you're going to see hip-hop's influence everywhere like in this State Farm commercial. I mean, come on now, how much better can it get than that? Absolutely, the impact is inescapable. Staying on hip-hop’s anniversary, I’ve seen some people say we don’t give you your flowers enough as a hip-hop legend. Do you feel like people gloss over your accomplishments in rap?

Ludacris: You know, I think that it is hard to give it up for one thing specifically because you're just like, he's juggling so many different things. So it's like a gift and a curse in one end where it's like the portfolio is diversified in a very great way. But yes, I feel like sometimes the flowers aren't given as much because they see a wide variety of pictures on the wall and it's not one big picture, if that makes sense. Not to take away from it but that's how people's subconscious minds work sometimes. You can't do but so much right for people to want to give you love.

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