When the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosts rap star Ludacris for a concert on Oct. 15 at State Farm Arena, the multi-hyphenated celebrity will be making a return to his hometown. The multi-platinum rapper and actor is known for his boisterous lyrics, "Dirty South" sound, and starring roles in the Fast and the Furious film franchise. He also has a successful business career, owns his own restaurant chain, and is an active philanthropist. However, like most celebrities he has had his share of controversies over the years.
Born Christopher Bridges, Ludacris' rap career began in Champaign as he took up rhyming and performing while attending Oak Park River Forest High School and Centreville High School in his early teens. Upon graduating from Banneker High School in Atlanta, the multi-hyphenated entertainer signed with Def Jam Records and dropped out of Georgia State University to pursue his music career.
In 2000 Ludacris' second album, Back for the First Time, broke him into mainstream success. The album made headlines for its explicit sexual lyrics and featured a number of songs that pushed the boundaries of radio play lists. Ludacris defended the lyrics and argued that the meaning of his songs was up to listeners.
In 2008 Ludacris branched out with a music website called WeMix and a reality show series on The Learning Channel. He was the co-host of Battleground Earth, which pitted him against rock musician Tommy Lee in a competition to preserve the environment. Ludacris also owns restaurants in Atlanta and is a co-owner of the Disturbing Tha Peace music label. The label features a roster of talented artists, including rappers T.I., DMX, and Sleepy Brown.