NEW YORK — The way Ludacris runs around the stage, yelling at the top of his lungs, it’s not hard to believe him when he says he has a difficult time keeping still for too long.
Judging by the cover of his new album, Chicken-N-Beer, which shows him about to take a big bite out of a young lady’s leg, we could even believe that he has a problem distinguishing between “chickenheads” and actual fried chicken.
But when the rapper/ label CEO/ actor claims he has a hard time doing two things at once, that’s kind of hard to believe, although he insists it’s true. At least it was when he shot the video for “Stand Up.”
“The most difficult part was probably a part nobody would even think about,” Luda explained recently. “It’s the part where there’s a cartoon background behind me. The music is going at the tempo it’s supposed to be going at, but I’m moving real fast. [While shooting the video] they slowed the track way down and I had to move real fast but mouth the words really slowly. It’s like my body is moving real fast but my lips are still going to the track. That was definitely the hardest part. I was trying to do two things at one time.
“When it comes to this video, welcome to the mind of Ludacris,” he added about his kinetic clip. “I’m just wild like that. I like being creative. I like going completely left when everybody else goes right. That’s just how my mind works, in crazy ways.”
As he mentioned, Cris had to work his body hard, as well as his brain. In the video we see him partake in a two-step-like dance with a shoulder bop, saying, “When I move you move.” However, the ATL bigmouth shucks off assumptions that he was trying to start a new dancefloor craze. He claims he was just improvising.
“I ain’t got a name for it,” Cris said, smiling. “It’s just something we did real quick. It ain’t even a made-up dance. We just did that and all of sudden everybody thinks that’s the new dance. It is what you make it. If people want to make it a dance, it’s cool with me.”
On Chicken-N-Beer, it’s obvious that Cris thinks it’s very cool when people, especially females, show him love. On “Splash Waterfalls,” a girl’s voice is repeatedly looped, commanding Ludacris to “make love” to her, among other things. He raps comically about some of his freaky ways.
Later, Snoop Dogg flips his usually laid-back demeanor on “Hoes in My Room.” A few ugly girls (including a 300-pound woman and a midget), whom the Dogg refers to as “booger bears,” have infiltrated the lounging quarters of the two superstar rappers. The MCing duo rhyme about trying to get them to leave and getting to the bottom of how they got past security in the first place.
And while “P-Poppin’ ” and “Teamwork” also highlight Luda’s explicit, humorous sex trash-talking, he’s clearly got more on his mind than the ladies.
“Hard Times” features prolific Southern rap duo 8ball & MJG, as well as soulful crooner Carl Thomas, who coos on the hook, “I’m trying to make it through these hard times.” Cris uses catchy metaphors to reflect on his life’s strife.
“My family’s been hounding me, friends turned against me,” he barks. “Kinda like their hearts were on a full tank, now they’re just empty/ And they say I’ve changed, but like twins I’m just the same.”
When it comes to Chicken-N-Beer’s tracks, Cris never comes across the same way twice.
The beats go from sounding cartoonlike, using bells and whistles on “Screwed Up,” to a dirty South bounce using synthesizers and bass on “P-Poppin.’ ” From there, Luda and the producers get crunk on “Blow It Out” and then use samples of ’70s music to give a soulful foundation to “Diamond in the Back.”
Although Cris worked with acclaimed beatsmiths Kanye West and Three 6 Mafia’s DJ Paul and Juicy J, he chose to stick mostly with producers who aren’t household names, including Ruh Anubis, Zukahn Bey and Jook.
“I worked with a lot of new producers because I hate the stereotype [that] people only like artists [when they work] with one producer,” he said, rationalizing why he decided not to go with tried-and-true folk like Timbaland or the Neptunes. “My thing is, go get tracks from anybody. I can make hit songs [with] an established producer [or] a producer that’s just getting started. I’m letting them know I’m not depending on anybody.
“People don’t know, I work hands-on right there with the producer,” he continued. “In a way, I kind of co-produce the track with the producer. I love being involved in every aspect of the game.”