Even though his new album is called “Battle of the Sexes,” that doesn’t mean Ludacris is on one side or the other.
“I knew that this was the theme I wanted to go with because there had never been an album quite like that before,” he says, calling from a tour stop with the Black Eyed Peas in Lexington, Ky. “I wanted to bring something new.”
For Ludacris — who’s celebrating the 10th anniversary of his debut, “Back for the First Time,” this year — every album has to be different, or it wouldn’t merit taking him away from working with his Disturbing Tha Peace crew or from his acting roles as Chris Bridges in “Crash,” “RocknRolla” or last year’s “Gamer.”
“When you’ve done this many albums, it’s a case of me trying to outdo myself — to reinvent it or do certain things that fill a void in the music industry,” he says of the album, which drops March 9. “When I say ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ of course I have different females from the past, present and the future on this album — everyone from Lil’ Kim to Eve, Trina, Nicki Minaj and Monica. ... It has records with me talking about women, talking to women and women talking back to me — all on one album. I give different perspectives on different issues.”
That means sometimes he’s on the guys’ side, and sometimes he’s standing up for the ladies. “You have ‘Hey Ho’ with Lil’ Kim that’s talking about that double standard of when men sleep around they’re considered players, but when women do it, they’re considered hos,” he says. “Lil’ Kim is speaking up for women, saying, ‘A ho is a ho, no matter what gender you are.’”
“I have a song called ‘Can’t Live With You, Can’t Live Without You,’ and anybody who’s ever been in a relationship understands that you fuss and fight all the time, so it’s a breakup-to-makeup kinda thing that I have with Monica on the song,” he continues, talking at the quick pace that marks his rapid-fire flow on his song. “And I have a song called ‘Sex Room,’ with Trey Songz, that’s talking to women. So we’re trying to cover every perspective in every regard.”
Ludacris’ recent collaborations have also showed him covering different musical perspectives. He has a verse on teen pop sensation Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby,” following his success contributing to Jesse McCartney’s remix of “How Do You Sleep.” He appears on R&B singer LeToya’s hit “Regret” and Raheem DeVaughn’s single “Bulletproof,” as well as DJ Khaled’s star-studded “All I Do Is Win.” Throw in his own hits — “My Chick Bad” and the current R&B/hip-hop chart-topper “How Low” — and Ludacris is on six current singles.
He’s happiest about “How Low,” though. “I knew that was one of those universal songs,” he says. “Even in the spirit of ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ people compete. It’s more like a dance song. I’m just happy because, as of today, we just went platinum on digital downloads. That’s the lead single, and we’ve got a No. 1 single in the country, so it’s looking good.” Not that he really worries about that stuff any more.
“I’m an artist, and I have fans who appreciate what I do, and all I do is be as creative as I possibly can. That is what satisfies me. As long as I know I’m being true to myself and to my fans, I’m good with it. I’ve had much success, and I’m very competitive. But I’m just happy being on this journey and being able to do what I love to do.”