Rapper Ludacris visits Elm City

“You sell 3 million copies, you become a role model,” hip-hop artist Chris “Ludacris” Bridges said Thursday afternoon.

The 60 Branford College students, who had waited in line for tickets a day earlier, gathered in Master Steven Smith’s living room for a Master’s Tea with the legendary rapper. Ludacris told the audience about his rise to stardom and discussed current issues, such as financial responsibility and the Chris Brown–Rihanna controversy.

Actor and Grammy Award–winning rapper Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges spoke to 60 eager Branford students about his musical work and his ventures into the world of cinema at a Thursday Master’s Tea.
Snigdha Sur
Actor and Grammy Award–winning rapper Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges spoke to 60 eager Branford students about his musical work and his ventures into the world of cinema at a Thursday Master’s Tea.

After a brief meet-and-greet, which was cut short because of Ludacris’ late arrival after his campus tour ran overtime, students clamored to snag front-row seats. The rapper, who performed at Yale’s 2006 Spring Fling, shared the students’ excitement.

“I love intelligent minds, and I like to be around powerful people,” Ludacris said of his visit to Yale. “When they told me I was doing [Spring Fling], I was more excited than I’ve ever been.”

Ludacris said his musical career began as a child, which he spent between Chicago and Atlanta. When he was 9 years old he wrote his first song, where he said he faked his age for the sake of a rhyme.

“I’m cool. I’m bad. I might be 10, but I can’t survive without my girlfriend,” he rapped to the crowd.

As an undergraduate at Georgia State University, Ludacris interned at an emerging hip-hop radio station in Atlanta called Hot 97.5, where he was first assigned the graveyard shift and later appeared on the station’s morning show.

“Whenever someone calls up and sounds sexy as hell, she’s not,” Ludacris said of a co-worker’s experience working an evening shift at the station.

At Hot 97.5, Ludacris met rapper Tim “Timbaland” Mosley, who listened to his demo tape and then featured Ludacris on his album in the song “Phat Rabbit.” After that first recording, Ludacris decided to invest his savings in recording a full CD and working with independent distributors to launch his career.

Because he achieved some success without being signed to a record label, the rapper said he was not put through the “artist development” track many new signed artists follow and quickly accepted an offer with Def Jam Recordings in 2000.

Later that year, he released the album “Back For The First Time,” which featured hit singles “Southern Hospitality” and “What’s Your Fantasy.” The first single, “What’s Your Fantasy,” became an instant hit, he said.

“It was nasty, yes, but it was a good song,” Ludacris said.

People in Jamaica — who he said did not appreciate explicit allusions to “men giving women oral sex” — protested the song’s derogatory lyrics; upon his arrival, Ludacris found a note on his hotel door that asked him not to perform the song.

Ludacris drew criticism following the 2006 Spring Fling, when he interrupted his performance and asked, “All the ladies in the house, if your pussy’s clean let me hear you scream real quick.”

Though his music is often criticized, the rapper, who grew up listening to Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, assured the audience he is “just being comedic.”

Yet Ludacris said many Americans do not view his lyrics as such, mentioning Oprah Winfrey and Bill O’Reilly. He called O’Reilly “the most hypocritical person in the world” for criticizing the rapper’s lyrics, referring to the sexual harassment allegations made against the Fox News personality in a 2004 lawsuit.

Unlike other rappers, some of whom he said are involved in drugs and conspicuous consumption, Ludacris has kept his hands clean. He only has one plane, which he said his uncle, a war veteran, maintains for him. He said he never conformed to the so-called hip-hop stereotype.

“I’ve never sold not one drug in my life,” Ludacris said. “This is the story of me getting 100 percent legal money.”

The tea was originally planned for fall 2008, when Ludacris was promoting his movie “Max Payne” with co-star Mark Wahlberg in New York City. Ludacris canceled the fall trip to Yale. This spring, however, Ludacris scheduled a gig in Hartford, and contacted Smith about rescheduling the visit. The Hartford gig was canceled before the tea.

“It’s been in the works for a while,” Smith said in an interview with the News.

Tour guide and Branford master’s aide Jenny McClain ’09, who showed Ludacris the Branford dining hall, Harkness Chapel and Sterling Memorial Library, said students and dining hall staff flocked around the celebrity.

“[He was] so great, really chill, really laid back,” McClain said of the artist during the tour.

At the end of the Tea, Smith presented Ludacris with two gift bags of Yale paraphernalia. He tried to put on his new Yale sweatshirt but stopped when he noticed it was a size medium.

“This is a medium. I need an extra large,” he said to Smith.


  • Ciarrai

    How disgraceful of the reporter, Rustin Fakheri, to quote hi-hop's Chris "Ludacris" Bridges' hateful, mysogynistic comment about female genitalia. I was shocked to read this and appalled that Yale Daily News would stoop to such a level. Equally appalling was the rapt attention shown on the faces of several female students who were in the audience, as noted by a photo accompanying the article. What self-respecting woman could sit and listen to this offensive drivel? Where has a sense of shame and indignation gone? This kind of offensive stuff ought still to be considered beyond the pale for any mature and decent people and certainly not appropriate for Yale Daily News. Unless, of course, I missed something and misogyny and poor taste are in vogue.

  • rt

    great article, rustin!!

  • Yale '12

    They aren't in vogue, Ciarrai, but neither is prejudice and close-minded censorship. And since when is the act of a man performing oral sex on a woman misogynistic? Kudos to the YDN on this story!

  • Yale '08

    Ciarrai - Just because you quote something doesn't mean you agree with it. Nice move referencing the reporter's full name alongside your ridiculous and and unwarranted attack. Let's just hope that your clearly intended target audience of his future googlers (ie. employers), is not as vicious or confused about standard journalism / English writing as yourself.

    Ludacris is brilliant and hilarious, as evidenced by his music, and it's great to see that he is also willing to drop by Yale (twice in two years) to meet and seriously engage with students. It's also cool to know that he paid his dues without dealing or resorting to violence (at least that's how I read the article). This sounds like an awesome master's tea, and I only wish it happened when '08 was still on campus.

    Reading about this and the hockey team's season made me prouder as an alumnus than anything else this year. Hell yeah, Master Smith.

  • Yale '08

    Also, as a bystander, the problem at Spring Fling in '06 appeared to be mainly that some of the "ladies in the house" were upset at not qualifying to "scream real quick" based on Ludacris' exclusive criterion.

  • Ciarrai

    "All the ladies in the house, if your pussy's clean let me you scream real quick". So that would be in the realm of "standard journalism", eh '08? Funny, but I never see this vulgar stuff in "standard journalism." It wasn't my intent to link the writer with his work for a prospective employer's perusal, but now that you mention it, shouldn't we own what we have published? Of course. It is frightful that such vulgarity has its defenders at Yale. Nevertheless, this too shall pass. A few years from now you will understand where I am coming from. Something about the real world, children and bills helps us separate gold from dross, "standard journalism" from offensive claptrap.

  • Yale '12

    Here's the issue, though, Ciarrai: if it wasn't for this article and others publishing that quote, where would you get it to quote in your own comment?

  • Ciarrai

    Brilliant, Yale '12. Thanks for clearing it up. Never get animals stoned.

  • Yale '10

    Ludacris' remark at Spring Fling cast the decision to hire him in a controversial light. That makes it relevant to the topic of his second appearance on campus by invitation. The reporter might have simply mentioned it in passing, which would probably spark a long comment debate online as to what he actually said. Best to simply quote him verbatim, without delving into a particular stance on the choice to bring him here twice. Ciarrai, you might reconsider whether the neutral presentation of offensive material is offensive per se.

  • Hieronymus

    Where is the Women's Center in all this?

    Protesting Ludacris seems much more relevant than the "Yale Sluts" episode.

    I find the "artist" repugnant, and consider it yet another comment on Yalies weird need to appear au courant.

    But, hey, I guess he gets a pass, right? I mean, it's his "culture." And we are called to love that "culture" irrespective of any inherent flaws, dissonances, or, well, just plain ugliness.

    Go Bulldogs!