Ludacris was born Christopher Brian Bridges in Champaign, Illinois. He is of African American and Native American descent. Bridges wrote his first rap song at age nine and joined an amateur rap group three years later. He attended Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois,and Banneker High School in Atlanta, Georgia. From 1998 to 1999, he studied music management at Georgia State University. In 2007, Bridges lost his father, Wayne, to cancer. Ludacris has a daughter named Karma by an Atlanta attorney named Cristine.
Ludacris worked as a radio editor under the pseudonym DJ Chris Lova Lova at Atlanta hip-hop station Hot 97.5. WHTA, now located at 107.9. Producer/rapper Timbaland made an offer for Ludacris to work with him at the radio station. Ludacris performed on the track "Phat Rabbit" as Ludacris on Timbaland's 1998 album Tim's Bio: Life from da Bassment .
Ludacris released his major label debut, Back For The First Time, in October 2000. This album was actually a modified re-release of the album Incognegro, made in 1998. It was produced with the help of the underground producer Sessy Melia, whom he dated for a short while. The album reached as high as #4 on the charts, and was a major success. Ludacris made his mark on the industry with singles such as "Southern Hospitality" and "What's Your Fantasy," along with his first ever single the "Phat Rabbit", from two years prior. Guest appearances included Jay-Z, 4-Ize, I-20, Lil Fate, Shawnna, Pastor Troy, Timbaland, Trina, Foxy Brown, UGK, and others. Ludacris stated in an interview on MTV's hip hop program Direct Effect that he came up with his stage name based on his "split personality" that he considered "ridiculous" and "ludicrous". He also may have, although not confirmed, wanted to include his first name, Chris, in his stage name.
Ludacris promptly completed his next album, Word of Mouf, and released it at the end of 2001. The video for the lead single, "Rollout (My Business)", was nominated for a 2002 VMA, and Ludacris performed it live at the awards' pre-show. He released singles "Saturday (Oooh Oooh)" with Sleepy Brown, "Move Bitch" with Mystikal and I-20, and "Area Codes" with Nate Dogg.
During the spring of 2003, Ludacris returned to the music scene after a brief hiatus with a new single, "Act a Fool", from the 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack. At around the same time, he released the lead single from his album Chicken-n-Beer, called "P-Poppin" (short for "Pussy Poppin'"). Neither of his new singles were as well-received by either the urban or pop audiences as his previous songs had been, and both music videos received only limited airplay. Chicken-N-Beer opened strongly, but without a popular single, the album fell quickly. Guest appearances include Playaz Circle, Chingy, Snoop Dogg, 8Ball & MJG, Lil' Flip, I-20, Lil Fate, and Shawnna.
In the fall of 2003, Ludacris rebounded with his next single, "Stand Up", which appeared on both Chicken-n-Beer as well as the soundtrack for the teen hip-hop/dance movie, You Got Served. Produced by Kanye West, "Stand Up" went on to become one of Ludacris' biggest mainstream hits to date, hitting the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 garnering heavy airplay on mainstream pop, rhythmic, and urban radio stations, as well as on MTV, MTV2, and BET. Ludacris was sued by a New Jersey group called I.O.F. who claimed that "Stand Up" used a hook from one of their songs, but in June 2006, a jury found that the song did not violate copyrights. "I hope the plaintiffs enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame," Ludacris said after the verdict.
The album's next single, "Splash Waterfalls", was released in early 2004. A huge pop hit (despite its steamy video and explicit, adult-oriented lyrical content and themes), it subsequently became a success at urban radio and BET, and is the only time he has produced two consecutive top 10 singles from a solo album, except for Release Therapy (an unedited version of the video could only be viewed on BET's Uncut program). It was Ludacris' most sexual video yet, an R&B remix that featured Raphael Saadiq and sampled Tony! Toni! Tone!'s "Whatever You Want". Ludacris received his first Grammy Award with Usher and Lil Jon for their hit single "Yeah!". Ludacris next released "Blow It Out", which was accompanied by a low-budget music video.
Ludacris took a more mature approach to his fourth album, The Red Light District. Sohail Khalid helped produce this album with various artists such as T.I., Lil Flip and Bun B. Ludacris openly boasted that he may be the only rapper able to keep the Def Jam label afloat on the opening track. Ludacris filmed and recorded the single "Get Back" in which he was featured as a muscle-bound hulk who was being annoyed by the media and warned critics to leave him alone. He first appeared on Saturday Night Live as a special guest performing with musical guest Sum 41 on a season 30 episode hosted by Paul Giamatti. He then recorded "Get Back" with Sum 41 to make a rock crossover single. The follow-up single was the Austin Powers-inspired "The Number One Spot". It was produced by New York City's Hot 97 personality DJ Green Lantern. It used the Quincy Jones sample of "Soul Bossa Nova" and sped it up to the tempo of Ludacris' rap flow. Featured artists on the album include Nas, DJ Quik, DMX, Trick Daddy, Sleepy Brown, and Disturbing tha Peace newcomers Bobby Valentino, Dolla Boi, and Small World. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts.
In an issue of XXL, Ludacris was placed in the number nine spot for the most anticipated albums of 2006, for Release Therapy. The album Release Therapy was released on September 26, 2006. Ludacris formatted the CD to have two sides: a Release side and a Therapy side on a single CD. Guest appearances include Pharrell Williams, R. Kelly, Young Jeezy, Mary J. Blige, Field Mob, Bobby Valentino, Pimp C, C-Murder, and Beanie Sigel. The first single, "Money Maker", which features Pharrell Williams, was released to U.S. radio outlets on July 17, 2006. "Money Maker" reached number one on the BET program 106 & Park. It then went to become the rapper's second number one single after 6 years. His second single, "Grew Up a Screw Up", featuring Young Jeezy, dispels rumors that the two are or ever were in a dispute. His third single, "Runaway Love", soon peaked at number one on the U.S. Rap Billboard and won Best Collaboration in the 2007 BET Awards. His album then reached number one on the Billboard 200 album charts with sales of 309,000 in its first week. With the release of this album, Ludacris marked a change in style in his career with his musical style. The new album itself features a departure of the light-hearted mood of his previous albums, and introduces a darker side. A change of hair accompanied this as he cut off his trademark braids for a more conventional "fade" cut. To promote the album, Ludacris returned to Saturday Night Live (as both host and musical guest) on November 18, 2006.
The Preview, a mixtape to preview the album was released on July 28, 2008. Theater of the Mind, released on November 24, 2008, and in April 2008, the single "Stay Together" appeared on xxlmag.com; supposedly from the new album ("Stay Together" was expected to but was released as a bonus track on the CD). A song with Small World called "Pinky Shinin" was expected to be on the album, but it was dropped. In an interview with Complex Magazine he stated that Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, T.I., Plies, Common, T-Pain, Jay-Z, Nas and The Game will be on the album; The Game is featured in a track with Willy Northpole titled "Call Up the Homies". T.I. was on the album on a track called "Wish You Would" squashing the long feud between them. The album debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 with 213,493 sold first week. The album was released the same day as Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak, which took the number one spot. His first single "What Them Girls Like", featuring Chris Brown and Sean Garrett, peaked at #33 on the Billboard 100. His second single, "One More Drink", featuring T-Pain, peaked at #24 on the Billboard 100. The third official single is "Nasty Girl", featuring Plies. He confirmed a "sequel" titled Ludaversal due to be released in 2010.
After the success of Back For The First Time, Ludacris started his own foundation. The Ludacris Foundation, started by Ludacris and Disturbing tha Peace CEO Chaka Zulu, is an organization that helps middle and high school students motivate themselves in creative arts.
In 2007 Matt Apfel, a reality TV producer, had an idea for a show about mashups between fans and rock stars. He sat down with Ludacris and Zulu and discovered that they wanted to do something similar. Out of this partnership, they started a new media distribution company called wemix.com. Recently, WeMix.com announced a partnership with PhoneZoo to launch an innovative content distribution platform for new artists. Recently, Ludacris has landed a new fragrance deal with TAG Body Spray.