Parental advisory from Ludacris: “You got to be real with your kids”

The rapper, actor and creator of Karma's World talks about giving kids an empowering alternative to his music

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      Here’s a thing I would never I would write 20 years ago: Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, the rapper who went on about his “red carpet dick” rolling out on What’s Your Fantasy, has made an empowering Netflix cartoon series for kids.

      “Ludacris makes music for adults,” says Bridges, helping me bridge the cognitive dissonance on a Zoom call from his Atlanta home.

      He’s reiterating what he tells his kids when they ask about his music and videos, a canon that oscillates between raucously absurd comedy like Stand Up and frat boy nasty tracks like Sex Room, and the stuff in between like Area Codes. Let’s face it. We all have to have these conversation when the Sonos playlist slips into one of our favourite jams, or recent bangers like WAP, within ear shot of the kids. But, for obvious reasons, I’m imagining such conversations had been even harder to escape for Ludacris, whose kids range in age from newborn to now 20-year-old Karma.

      “Imagine [Karma] being six years old and barging into my studio while I’m recording these hit songs like How Low and My Chick Bad and all this stuff and saying, ‘Daddy, I want to rap too. I want to be a rapper like you.”

      “You got to be real with your kids,” Bridges continues. “I say, ‘This is adult music. You can listen to the clean version. This is what it means. And I’m also giving you this option.’ And you let them choose.”

      The option Bridges is referring to is Karma’s World, the series currently streaming on Netflix based on his eldest’s childhood ambitions to rap and the issues she dealt with in terms of self-esteem and identity during middle-school. The uplifting series, which immediately roped my own kids in, also comes with a soundtrack, so children could rap along to something other than Doja Cat.

      “The great thing is, in my household, they choose Karma’s World over Ludacris,” says Bridges. “I’m competing against nothing but my own offspring. You got to love that.”

      Bridges partnered with Canadian company 9 Story to create the series about life lessons, community bonds and Black girl magic that has rarely made its way to screens up until now.

      “As a father, the best way that I can communicate with my kids is whenever we watch certain movies or shows together and they have all these questions afterwards,” says Bridges, explaining the conversations he hopes the show inspires between families. “You want them to come to you about the tough subjects as opposed to asking anyone else.”

      In the video below, Bridges discusses Karma’s World, empowering women whether in the rap game or organizations like The Ludacris Foundation, and charges of misogyny in his music from people like Bill O’Reilly, who Bridges says “don’t listen to the lyrics and just want to formulate their own opinion on what they think it means.

      “Rap music and hip-hop has been misunderstood since the beginning of time.”