Luda states mission

ImageLudacris is not a modest man. You can't really blame him. He's sold millions of albums, acted in Oscar-nominated films (Crash and Hustle & Flow) and describes himself as an "entreprenegro." (He hates the word rapper.)

Luda (real name: Chris Bridges) recently made headlines simply by cutting his cornrows, a move meant to coincide with the release of his new, more introspective album, Release Therapy. The CD hits stores today.

We caught up with him before his Sept. 7 show at the University of Texas at Arlington. His eyes were puffy – he'd just gotten up from a nap – but he was calm and relaxed.

Q: You said you want Release Therapy to be your classic album ...

A : [Interrupts.] No, I didn't say I wanted it to be. I said it is.

Q: It is your classic album. OK. Why?

A: It's the closest thing to perfection I've ever done. Just the amount I've spent doing it. How, I guess, I was so careful about every single word – so involved in the production aspect of it, the sequencing, the mixing, the mastering. Not that I haven't been like this before. But I'm talking about I was gambling like a mad scientist on this album. Everything had to be perfect.

Q: Did you sleep?

A: [Laughs.] Yeah, I got a little sleep, here and there. I was on a mission and mission complete. [Pause] Mission complete. If I ever do a last album I'm going to call it Mission Complete. [He pulls out his PDA and begins typing.]

Q: So sound-wise, what makes this album different?

A: Hold on, let me put this in my pager. [Long pause.] What did I say? [Several handlers chime in: "Mission Complete!"]

OK, what did you say? The reason this is different, sound-wise, is because ... it's like this persona of Ludacris, being wild and crazy, I still have that aspect to the music. But this album is more – and it goes kind of along with me cutting the hair – it's more personal. It's more serious. So, basically, people know who Ludacris was all these years. This album is letting you know who Chris Bridges the person is.

Q: Have you worried that you're baring your soul, and what happens if people don't like it?

A: They're going to like it. ... I'm not at all worried about that. I've never been more confident about anything in my entire life. Trust me when I tell you. You might just think I'm exaggerating ... but you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

Q: Were you surprised when everyone went crazy when you cut your hair?

A: Yes and no. I'm one of those people where it's just in my nature that I live in a state of denial about any damn thing until it slaps me across the face. It's just how I am.

Q: So, Axe Clix sponsored your tour bus, and their commercials are all about attracting women. Do you have a secret weapon when it comes to getting the ladies?

A: Axe Clix! I endorse it because I use it.

Q: OK, any other secret weapon?

A: Just being myself. If they don't like me for who I am – [expletive] 'em! I'm sorry, nah, don't put that in. If they don't like me for who I am, then the hell with them.

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