Ludacris brought in a hefty $12 million over the past year, ranking him at No. 10 on Forbes’ Hip Hop’s Cash Kings list. This may stun some, considering Luda hasn’t released an album since 2010. He said although he raps “at least once a year,” diversifying his brand helped him build a respectable empire.
Not only does he appear in blockbuster films (Fast Five) periodically, he also has a line of headphones (Soul), a line of cognac (Conjure) and does voiceover for RadioShack.
“When we talk about building brands, we’re not in it for the short run,” he says. “It’s not about getting in and hurrying up and trying to sell something … We get offers all the time; that doesn’t mean we take every offer that comes to us.”
Luda got his entrepreneurial start early; in the 90s, he worked as an intern at an Atlanta radio station with the moniker “Chris Lova Lova.” He later pursued a business management degree at Georgia State University. By the late 90s, he recorded and independently released his debut album, Incognegro, and launched his own label, Disturbing Tha Peace.
“Nobody believed in Ludacris, so Ludacris put out his own album; you can’t get more businessman than that,” says Kevin Liles, the former Def Jam President who eventually signed the rapper. “He’s engaging, he’s personable. That right there was part of his foundation to be in different businesses. Because to be diversified in business, you have to be a diversified person.”
Of course Luda hasn’t abandoned his music roots completely. He plans on releasing Ludaversal later this year.
“I traveled the world over the last two years, I got to see a lot of things and had a lot of experiences,” he says. “That’s what Ludaversal is all about. Really kind of being vulnerable and letting you into my life … People are definitely going to understand a lot more about the personal side of Chris Bridges when they hear this album.”