If you can talk financial experts off the ledge long enough to ask them the key to a successful future, they’ll almost all say the same thing: “You’ve got to diversify.” It’s a philosophy that few have embraced as earnestly as the rap community, and few have done it so thoroughly and successfully as Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges. Multiplatinum records? Sure. Critically acclaimed hit movies? Okay, great. Restaurants, charitable organizations, and his very own brand of cognac? You’ve officially hit “above and beyond.”
“It’s smarter to branch out. You have a whole new generation of people who are basically entrepreneurs instead of just being rappers,” he says. “It’s important because we are a brand, and we are a business.” This month, he stars alongside Gerard Butler in the video game-based thriller Gamer. With business savvy and mic skills in his arsenal, and God on his side (as well as on his arm), there’s no doubt Ludacris will be blowing up cineplexes, radios, and high-end drinking establishments for a long time. No matter what Bill O’Reilly has to say about it.
INKED: How many tattoos do you have?
CHRISTOPHER BRIDGES: I don’t really have that many tattoos. I only have three. And it’s crazy because I’ve been meaning to get more, but my life has sped up so rapidly that I’m finding it hard. I know it sounds crazy, but I hardly ever find the time. My tattoos are pretty self-explanatory. One is the Disturbing Tha Peace symbol, which is my record company. It’s the original symbol that I trademarked when I was, like, 19 years old. So that goes around my left arm. And above that are some praying hands, which is just about praying before you go to sleep and when you wake up every day, and thanking God for everything that I have and how fortunate I am because prayer saves, and prayer is very important. And on my right arm there’s a cross with a face that’s my perception of what Jesus looks like. So it’s a black Jesus in the middle of a cross. And those are my three tattoos, man.
Which one did you get first?
The very first tattoo I ever got? Damn. [Laughs.] I think the praying hands was the very first one I got, if I’m not mistaken.
Do you remember what inspired you to get it?
I was probably, like, 18 years old. And it was just the symbolism of where I felt like I was going and how I knew I got an early start on life and just being thankful. The first step in trying to achieve is having gratitude for where you’re at in the present point in time. So I think it had a lot to do with that—knowing that prayer is important.
How were you in the chair?
Everybody kind of overexaggerates how painful it is. So when I got in the chair I found it to be a little painful but nowhere near as painful as people will try to make it out to be. So I was a man about it. And I think when it’s on your arm it’s a little easier as opposed to when it’s up against a bone, from what I hear. I haven’t had any tattoos where it’s up against a bone—I’m sure that hurts more. So where there’s a little bit of flesh and some meat, it didn’t hurt as much. It just felt like a little needle and somebody trying to stick it in you a whole bunch of times. It hurt a little bit, but it didn’t hurt that bad.