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BY Abu Mubarik, 1:00pm February 14, 2024,

How Ludacris sold debut album out of trunk of car with no label support but earned biggest paycheck ever

Ludacris. Photo credit: Wikimedia commons.

One of the strong pillars of the music industry is a record label. Being signed to record labels allows the musicians to focus more on their craft while the label focuses on ensuring that the song gets the maximum reach. However, the reverse was the case for Ludacris who started his music career without any major label support.

When he was first working as DJ Chris Lova Lova at an Atlanta, GA, radio station, he attracted the attention of record labels and producer Timbaland. He went on to land a feature on Timbaland’s single, “Fat Rabbit” and began to receive more attention from record labels following the feature.

But during a podcast interview with “Drink Champs,” he noted that the attention he received did not translate into landing his own deal. According to him, this compelled him to use his own money to release his debut album “Incognegro” in 1999.

“I’ve had my moments with each of those entities, but I never signed with them. Even with Timbaland, there was a time when I was about to get signed to Timbaland because of my first record before ‘What’s Your Fantasy,’” Ludacris said.

“I was on his album, and I had a song called ‘Fat Rabbit,’ which ended up being on ‘Back for the First Time.’ So again, I went through all of these processes, and nobody really stepped all the way up, which caused me to put my money into myself and invest and do the whole ‘Incognegro’ album.”

It cost him $20,000 to create the “Incognegro” album which he released independently through Disturbing tha Peace.

“When I put out Incognegro, it was a real struggle; I had to save up money to do everything, sell it out the trunk and get it in the stores,” he told MTV.

However, the album led to his biggest payday and gave him a breakthrough in the industry at the age of 21.

“I sold 50,000 records at $7 a pop. I got a $350,000 check when I was 21 years old, he said. Biggest check I ever got, all put into myself.”

He continued: “And I made the whole album for like $20,000. But that’s all the money I saved up from all the after parties and sh-t that I was doing when I was 18, 19, and 20 from working at the radio station. So, it was all part of the plan. 

“It was very strategic and it took longer than I thought, but that sh-t worked out the way it needed to work out. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for it.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 14, 2024


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