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Posted by Dave
Rap News Network
5/7/2005 9:54:40 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Ludacris.

Ludacris, the hip-hop star also known as Chris Bridges, had just wrapped filming the movie "Crash" and was preparing to go on tour in February 2004 when an associate informed him that a white supremacist group had been distributing fliers protesting the "Disturbing tha Peace" tour stop in Casper, Wyo.

'Crash' Opens Friday. Look for Terry Lawson's review in Friday's Free Press.

"My first reaction, was, 'No big deal, no fuss,' " says Ludacris. "Then I thought, well, maybe this movie might be able to do some good, you know what I'm saying?"

What he's saying is that "Crash," which opens Friday and whose ensemble cast includes Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard, Larenz Tate and Brendan Fraser is that rare movie that looks dead-on at the elephant in America's living room: racism.

Set in Los Angeles, "Crash" borrows a metaphor from the Mexican drama "Amores Perros," using a car crash to bring together various people of various colors and political persuasions. But they are not together in the "We Are The World" sense. Cowritten (with Bobby Moresco) and directed by Paul Haggis, who wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-winner "Million Dollar Baby," it is unflinchingly honest in addressing how blacks, whites, Asian Americans and Arab Americans see one another. Ludacris plays a carjacker who has a strict code of ethics: He only steals from wealthy whites.

"I'll tell you the truth right now: When they offered me this movie, I wanted to do it for one reason only, and that was because of Don Cheadle," says Ludacris. " 'Million Dollar Baby' wasn't out, so I didn't know anything about that. It was working with Don that nailed it for me. I figured that could get my game up because I'm serious about having an acting career.

"But once we started shooting and I got into the character and the story, I realized I was part of something that really had something serious to say. This movie's about looking in the mirror, you know, and asking yourself: 'What do I really believe in when I'm not just running my mouth?' "

Ludacris readily admits he has become a major star by running his mouth. Born in Champaign, Ill., in 1977, Ludacris grew up in Atlanta, where his love and knowledge of R&B and rap earned him a job as a radio personality while he was still a teenager. He first rapped on record on a track on Timbaland's 1998 album, "Tim's Bio: Life From Da Basement," and released his own independent album, "Incognegro," in 2000. He sold 50,000 records, most of them, he says, "from the trunks of my car and friends' cars."

Signed to head up Def Jam's Def Jam South imprint, he had a hit out of the box with 2000's "What's Your Fantasy" from his major label debut, "Back for the First Time." The next year, he broke into the mainstream with "Word of Mouf." It contained a hit single whose title would put Fox News Channel scold Bill O'Reilly on a campaign that would end with Ludacris losing a multimillion deal with Pepsi. The soft drink company used the song for a commercial without the offending word. Though Ludacris' rhymes, like many of those of Southern rappers who followed, have concerned themselves more with hedonism than anger and violence, O'Reilly demonized him as a gangsta rapper. That characterization, Ludacris acknowledges, "probably got more people into my music."

"I'm not saying that's a good thing. I'm just saying what is," he says. "Media is a very powerful thing, and it can be a very dangerous thing. That's why I think movies like 'Crash' can make a real difference. If millions of kids can watch 'Scarface' and 'New Jack City' and follow that, there's no reason they can't see a movie like this and be influenced, too -- to make a difference, change things, right."

'Great discovery'
Though Ludacris refers to himself as "the freshman" among the movie's actors, Haggis says he was impressed by the rapper. The film's producer, Cathy Schulman, is more emphatic,

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