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Ludacris stands still for a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

During a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, Ludacris sat at his dining room table, appreciating the view from his Hollywood Hills home.

Over the last several months, the rapper and actor has been in constant motion, and moments like these are rare.

He’s on tour opening for Janet Jackson, with the pair recently selling out back-to-back nights at Madison Square Garden. He went on to play three straight nights of arena shows along the East Coast. Sandwiched between performances, he has to attend press events and TV talk shows to promote “Fast X,” which was released in theaters across the U.S. and North America this week.

But right now, Ludacris is talking about what helps him get his eight hours of sleep at the end of it all.

“That right there is what helps me end my day,” said Ludacris, whose real name is Chris Bridges, during a Zoom interview, turning the camera toward his infinity swimming pool framing an idyllic angle on L.A. “The elements.”

Ludacris then launched into a brief lesson about “earthing” or grounding, the therapeutic practice of allowing one’s skin and body to come in contact with the ground or water. He says it balances his “negative ions and positive ions.” He lamented how in today’s world, people seldom take time to go to parks for picnics and just sit in the grass.

“I live by it,” Ludacris said. “I can feel it. I can feel myself start to get balanced out whenever I’m near water, or in water, or when I’m in the sunshine.”

Although Ludacris, whose family home is in Atlanta, is technically in L.A. for business, it’s unlike any other work trip he’s been on. On Tuesday, while talking with The Times, Ludacris was preparing to receive his star Thursday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The moment had the Grammy-winning multi-hyphenate reflective and appreciative, even of the things right in front of him, like his multimillion-dollar view. And for now, one of the busiest performers in entertainment has put his ceaseless work ethic — the thing that got him here — on pause.

The guest list at his ceremony on Thursday afternoon reflected his tirelessness: He sat next to some of his hip-hop influences, including LL Cool J and Queen Latifah. His “Fast & Furious” family, Vin Diesel, Tyrese, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster, lined the front row. Nearby was his actual family, mother Roberta Shields, wife Eudoxie Mbouguiengue and his four daughters. His eldest, Karma Bridges, told her dad she would miss the ceremony to speak at her school, Spelman College, only to surprise him at the ceremony.

“I’m just gonna say, I’m happy I’ve got these sunglasses on right now,” Ludacris said into the microphone, referring to his tears after Karma gave a speech.

Throughout his talk, Ludacris went through a long list of thank-yous, including to the late actor Paul Walker and late director John Singleton, who cast him in “2 Fast 2 Furious” in 2003. At the end of his list, Ludacris turned to the two people “who have been on this journey with me since Day 1”: his longtime managers, Chaka Zulu and Zulu’s brother, Jeff Dixon. In 1998, Ludacris and the pair the co-founded their independent music label, Disturbing Tha Peace Records, which put out the initial Ludacris albums.

“It just occurred to me today, since my father passed away a while ago, that all the success and everything that I’m doing today, besides my mama, y’all helped —,” he said, choking up. “Y’all helped raise me, man.”

Ludacris’ father, Wayne Bridges, died in 2007, shortly after the rapper dedicated his rap album Grammy to him. Ludacris called Zulu and Dixon the “father I never had.” The moment on Thursday drew a standing ovation from the guests as Ludacris paused for 15 seconds and looked down at the podium. Some members of the crowd yelled out, “Real men cry!” and “We love you!”

Tyrese, left, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris and Jordana Brewster.

(Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

Before Ludacris’ speech, LL Cool J had kicked things off as the first speaker. When Ludacris was in the fourth grade, he memorized every word to LL Cool J’s 1987 song “I’m Bad.” He credited LL as “the person who made me want to start music.” Diesel followed him up with an intimate speech, referring to Ludacris as his children’s “favorite uncle.”

Fans who were crammed behind a metal barrier watched and cheered, occasionally calling out some of the rapper’s lyrics, “Get out the way! Get out the way! Move b—.”

At the end of the ceremony, officials uncovered the coral-pink terrazzo star with “Ludacris” etched in brass. In front of several rows of media cameras, Ludacris danced atop his star, stomping, twirling and stretching out his arms as if to fly.

Instead of a music symbol, a brass motion picture symbol was emblazoned on the star beneath his name. After all, it was the seemingly endless success of the “Fast and Furious” franchise and its latest installation, “Fast X,” that enveloped the ceremony and this moment in Ludacris’ career.

Ludacris credits the franchise’s staying power to its ability to reinvent itself, even if that just means bigger and better car chases and fights. As technology has advanced over the life of the franchise, raising the stakes in each movie, his character Tej has also grown.

Audiences first saw Tej in 2003’s “2 Fast 2 Furious” as a car mechanic known for his deep connections to the underground racing scene. Throughout his six other appearances in the franchise, Tej has become a master engineer, tuning up cars with advanced weaponry, and an expert hacker, alongside Nathalie Emmanuel’s character Ramsey. Even so, “Fast X” is widely seen as the beginning of the end for the franchise, which promises two more films.

For Ludacris, such an end would allow more time for his first love, music.

“After all of the ‘Fast’ craziness and me getting this Hollywood Walk of Fame … I will have some time to truly devote to putting some more music out,” Ludacris said. He promised that once he has the time, he would start putting together his 11th studio album. It would be his first since 2015, when he dropped “Ludaversal.”

Such a gap between albums, he said, is exactly what he needed to find himself as a songwriter again. “After you have nine, 10 albums, that’s why you take a break, because art imitates life and you truly have to be able to live some life so that you could come back with the best art,” Ludacris said. “It can’t be manufactured, bro, it has to be real.”

Ludacris’ most recent musical effort was a feature on the Afrobeats single “Cinderella Girl” by Nigerian rapper Blaqbonez. The content of his verse is in line with the womanizing aspect of the Ludacris persona of old and manages to glide effortlessly along with the dark and sensuous beat.

“I’ve been hearing Afrobeats in my house over the past 10 years because that’s all my wife plays,” Ludacris said. “They’re fans of me just as much as I’m fans of them.”

Since gaining dual citizenship in Gabon in 2020 — his wife was born and raised in the West African nation — Ludacris has been spending time on that continent, including trips to Ghana and Nigeria, where he has collaborated with other artists. He had previously traveled there while touring his various albums.

Despite his expanding taste, Ludacris said he’s still able to connect with his earlier output while on the road for Jackson’s Together Again tour. Fans at each stop continue to demand more music, he said, but his hits from the 2000s are what draws them to the shows.

“When you go out there and people are singing these songs word for word, I mean, there’s no better feeling in the world,” Ludacris said. “You writing something and creating something from absolutely nothing … putting it out to the universe, and then going to see people in-person, and them reciting those lyrics back to you, as if they’re the ones that wrote them — you don’t get tired of it, man.”

His classics such as “Act a Fool,” “Area Codes,” “Money Maker,” “How Low,” “Move B—” and “My Chick Bad” are embedded in hip-hop culture and part of the soundtrack of a generation. His music continues to see circulation on the radio and at clubs, and gain millions of streams.

“That’s the world telling you that you got a hit,” he said.

Even while engrossed in the daily demands of touring, it’s a big picture that he tries to remind himself of, much like his moment at the Walk of Fame.

“This is a moment for me to stand still and cherish the moment, which I don’t really do as much,” Ludacris said of his Hollywood star. “Because I’m so competitive — I’m always thinking about what’s next.”

Although Ludacris’ visit to L.A. was temporary, he’s no tourist. He flies here four to five times a year. He bought his Hollywood Hills mansion in 2014 for $4.8 million after selling his West L.A. condo. And he has his memorable L.A. spots: His favorite food spot (Koi on La Cienega Boulevard), favorite place to grab a drink (the Lobby at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel) and his least favorite freeway (It’s a coin toss between the 101 and 405, but ultimately the latter because of his frequent trips to and from LAX).

That’s where he went after the star ceremony, to catch a flight back to the East Coast so he could perform in Allentown, Pa., the same night.

It’s the first of three straight nights of performances, including a doubleheader in Boston, where he will follow up his arena show with another at a nightclub. Then, after a three-day break from performing, he is scheduled to fly to Toronto to do it all over again.

After standing still for just a minute, Ludacris is back at work.

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