Verse Of The Week: Ludacris
It’s about (past) time for another Verse Of The Week and we’re going back to the dirty dirty, Atlanta to be exact. Turn your ATL swag on and meet me after the jump.For nearly a decade, Ludacris has been impressing audiences with his unique verbal cadences and one-of-a-kind delivery. However, the subject matter seemed a little limited. He was more humorous than anything else and, at times, came off a little sophomoric. On the cusp of the release of his fifth album, fans and critics were starting to doubt the man born Chris Bridges. Could he really rap about substantive topics or was he – as he once put it – “just a bedroom gangsta?”
Release Therapy was released on September 26, 2006 and put critics and doubting fans in check. With the album, Luda proved to the entire industry that he is a multi-dimensional force to be reckoned with.
Release Therapy solidified the fact that Luda was all grown up and went on to earn him a Grammy for Best Rap Album in 2007.
One of the songs which helped him to prove it contains this week’s verse.
Entitled “Tell It Like It Is,” this song could serve as a How To Be A Rapper handbook for aspiring MCs. He talks about the business of the industry as well as all of the stress and drama that come with the glitz and glamour.
Without further ado, here is the first verse to Luda’s “Tell It Like It Is.”
“Things ain’t always what they seem or cracked up to be
Like all these fakin’ ass rappers in this industry
Talkin’ bout what they got, and they ain’t got a damn thang
How you own three cars, but you don’t own ya own name?
Get ya business right boys, the first class is in session
Get a entertainment lawyer in the music profession
Start up ya own company, trademark the name
That’s gon’ run ya bout a grand so start savin’ ya change
Open a bank account quick, and then follow these steps
Sign yourself to yourself and start signin’ ya own checks
Hit the booth and start recording at the speed of need
Whatever gets ya juices flowin’ could be speed or weed
Get it mixed and mastered, pressed up and plastered
Sell it to ya whole hood out the trunk, ya bastard!
Show all the non-believers what you destined to be
And in just a couple years you could be rich like me”
Luda starts his verse by warning the listener that the music industry is full of illusions, noting that hip hop’s appearances can be deceiving. He solidifies this point by talking about fake rappers who would have us to believe that they make much more money than they are actually worth (by renting the cars and jewelry in the music videos and such).
He goes on to say that many of these rappers boast about materials and wealth when they really don’t have these things, and don’t even own the rights to their own stage names (which are owned by their record labels).
To keep any would-be rappers under the sound of his voice from making the same mistakes, he begins to outline the steps to success in the music business. First, he suggests hiring an entertainment lawyer. After that, he suggests that you form your own label and trademark it’s name and even suggests how much seed money the new enterprise will cost.
He goes on to advise rappers to open bank accounts and to work for themselves. He says that they should hit the studio diligently and record as much as they can. In the next line, he also urges them to find “inspiration” by any source necessary – even drugs.
He calls on the aspiring rapper to utilize a certain type of vertical integration, overseeing every process of the development of his own project from the mixing and mastering to the physical production of the discs. He implores his listeners to sell their own records out of the trunk of their cars.
This advice is very close to Ludacris’s own story. He was turned down by record labels at first, so he went to the studio and recorded his independent album, Incognegro. He sold the album out of the trunk of his car – to the tune of 50,000 copies!
Needless to say, he was subsequently signed to a record deal with Def Jam.
Ludacris finishes the verse by saying that with a lot of skill and some confidence, one could turn out to be rich like him.
The call for entrepreneurship by the Disturbing Tha Peace founder is much-needed in urban music. So many artists have been swindled and bamboozled because they neglected to read or understand (or both) their contracts. The need for such business acumen in hip hop is not nearly a new thought.
Nas, for instance, said in his song “Carry On Tradition” on his 2006 album, Hip Hop Is Dead, said the following about the state of hip hop:
“Wasn’t Sylvia’s fault or because MC’s skills are lost
It’s ’cause we can’t see ourselves as the boss
Deep-rooted through slavery, self-hatred…”
With more rappers becoming business conscious, maybe we’ll hear more about business plans, market shares, and financial freedom than grills, (rented) cars and jewelry, and ‘making it rain.’
Until then, we can at least count on Ludacris to tell it like it is.
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