Promoting an album is tedious. Having spent months/years writing, recording, mixing and mastering a record, everything hinges on its promotion, the media attention it garners, and the impact of its marketing. Needless to say, this is the part of the process that artists least enjoy.
For Atlanta rapper/actor Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, life is constant promotion. Whether he's talking up his new album, 'Battle of the Sexes,' his new cognac, Conjure, his new restaurant Straits, his new film 'Gamer,' his juice, Ludajuice, his various real estate holdings, or his record label Disturbing Tha Peace, Luda is always working something. Having just released 'Battle of the Sexes,' the Grammy-winning rapper flew to New York last week to promote the record, and took The BoomBox along with him for a day in the life of Ludacris.
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A Day in the Life: Ludacris
"There is no average, regular day in my life," Luda explained of his daily routine. "Every day is completely different. The only consistent thing is how hard I work or how much we do in a given day."
The day began in the green room of 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where Luda came to rehearse his new hit, 'How Low' with Fallon's house band the Roots. "Since it's the week before the album comes out, this would be considered a typical day, in terms of promotion," Luda continued. "I'm a be on the phone today doing interviews or we have a performance that's gonna show on television with Jimmy Fallon. I got a meeting today, you know, we gonna hit up a movie premiere and check that out, and we may even go by a concert." [The concert in mention happens to be the New York stop of Jay-Z's 'Blueprint 3' tour.]
By the first note, it was clear that the Roots had already mastered 'How Low,' from the eerie synth line down to Questlove's hilariously dead-on impression of the helium-voiced hook, which the gentle giant sang with the help of a vocal effect. The set was chilly, and much smaller than it appeared on the monitors. "Does it get any colder in here?" Luda joked, after his third run-through, immediately winning over the small audience of Fallon crew members with his relaxed humor, and murdering the performance with his staccato, aggressive flow.
As expected, conversations are interrupted and picked back up several times during this busy day. After racing through phone interviews, including a feature with OK! magazine, Luda, now in the 'Late Night' green room, thoughtfully continues an exchange regarding time management. "When I'm in Atlanta, first and foremost I love to see my daughter cause I'm a father also, it's hard for me to go a good two weeks without really seeing her," Luda notes.
"But then, you know, I do have a restaurant, so I make sure I go by there and check on things and if I'm at my house, I got a studio there, so I try to knock out as many verses as I can ... I get in the studio and do things there. And then, man, make sure everything is cool at the crib! I got mail to open -- that could take a day by itself seeing as though I'm hardly ever home. But you know, Atlanta man, it's a lot going on. I got a lot of properties I gotta check on, all different things man, it's so much I can't even remember. There is no rest, that's why I'm wearing these sunglasses now, 'cause I don't get too much rest," Luda explains.
Despite a hectic schedule that could easily crush the feeble, the rap star maintains his cool while his entourage (manager Chaka Zulu, hypeman Lil Fate and longtime tour DJ, JC ) munch on sandwiches and crack jokes to keep the mood light. "This is the s-- we need to listen to before shows from now on!" Luda excitedly announces while Philly soul singer Jean Carne's 1978 song 'Don't Let it Go to Your Head' plays from a nearby laptop.
As the day progresses Ludacris' frenetic schedule takes him to the Bravo TV network -- to discuss a potential opportunity to work on his own cooking show -- to the BET studios for an interview that would be canceled while in transport and, eventually, to New York's popular Caribbean restaurant Negril.
"New York has so many great restaurants," Luda notes. "That is one of the things that I love to do here. 'Cause I'm a foodie, so I love food period. I'm always tryna find, you know, some new spots to go eat at, seeing as you have this big of a city and so many things it has to offer, it'd be crazy not to take advantage. I guess you could say that, after all the hard work, it's about me tryna find a good place to eat."
Unfortunately, finding a good place to eat proved to be harder than we thought. Negril wasn't open when Luda and co. arrived at its door. The offspring of another popular New York spot would have to suffice as Luda decides to swing by Philippe Chow Express in the West Village before heading back to the 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' green room.
Just when things seemed to mellow out, Ludacris' manager Chaka returns with a deck of cards and bottles of wine, and challenges everyone in the room to a game of poker. Ludacris quietly sips white wine and throws two Ben Franklin's on the table. Fallon -- dressed in 'Late Night' digs -- enters the room and observes the poker game, but turns down a glass of wine. Opting to do his monologue sober, Fallon explains that under different circumstances he'd be willing to throw one back with the rapper. "I'm Irish, I drink everything. My stomach's iron," he riffed, laughing at his own joke.
After spending the greater portion of his day marinating in the green room Ludacris runs through his performance of 'How Low' with surgical precision before heading to premiere of his 'Crash' co-star Don Cheadle's new film, 'Brooklyn's Finest.'
After spending a taxing day with Ludacris, we couldn't help but wonder if the constant touring and promotion disturbs the radio personality-turned-rapper-turned-actor-turned-restaurateur's creative process. "Sometimes it can be hard to find a creative space to do the work you have to do, that's why you have to designate and focus your time and energy in the right places," he said. "If it's about reading scripts, then you kinda shut off everything else and read the script. If it's about music, you shut out everything else and you concentrate on the music or the verse, and that's basically what I do. It's all about managing your time to the best of your ability ... and focus."