Ludacris first came into the public eye in 2000, with his debut single, "What's Your Fantasy", off of his Back For The First Time album. In addition to introducing Ludacris, his first single and music video, which became an MTV2 hit, gave America its first glimpse of his fellow Disturbing The Peace member Shawnna, a female rapper who has just recently begun to achieve some success of her own. In addition to singing the chorus on "What's Your Fantasy" and appearing in its video, Shawnna, along with Trina and Foxy Brown, contributed original verses to a remix of the track that featured Ludacris himself on the chorus.
In 2001, "Southern Hospitality" became an even bigger urban radio and video hit, achieving heavy MTV2 airplay and moderate MTV airplay. Back For The First Time's third single was the controversial "Ho", which, due to lyrics, was banned or restricted on many radio stations and whose video was not played by MTV, MTV2, or even BET, although it was available online at Launch for some time.
During the summer of 2001, Ludacris, with singer Nate Dogg, released a single off of the Rush Hour 2 soundtrack called "Area Codes". A continuation of the lyrical themes started with "Ho", the song and video were only played in an edited version in which all uses of the word "ho" were replaced with the word "pro".
Ludacris promptly completed his next album, Word Of Mouf and released it at the end of 2001. Its lead single, "Rollout (My Business)" gave Ludacris his first taste at a minor mainstream crossover, and the song was enormous on urban radio. Its next two singles, "Saturday (Oooh, Oooh)" and "Move Bitch", performed similarly during 2002, and all three songs' videos enjoyed MTV, BET, and MTV2 support. However, "Move Bitch" was commonly referred to as simply "Move" by radio DJ's and the word "bitch" was just muted out wherever it occurred. The title of the video also appeared as just "Move" when played on American video stations. Despite the controversy, the video was nominated for a 2003 VMA, and Luda performed it live at the awards' pre-show.
Never one to conform to stereotypes or boundaries, Luda toured with Papa Roach in 2002 after the release of their sophomore album lovehatetragedy. After Papa Roach's time spent with Ludacris, the rap-rock band joined a number of other gangsta rap acts including Xzibit on Eminem's Anger Management Tour, that summer.
In 2003, after music from the controversial "Move Bitch" had been used in a Pepsi commercial in which Ludacris also appeared drinking the soda, Pepsi came under fire from Bill O'Reilly for supporting Ludacris. O'Reilly believed that it was wrong for an international corporation like Pepsi to target the American teen audience by glamorizing a person like Ludacris, a gangsta rapper who had admitted having been in gangs and whose lyrics contained profanity, violence, and overt sexuality. O'Reilly urged his viewers to complain to and boycott Pepsi for its affiliation with Ludacris. Eventually, Pepsi gave in to O'Reilly and dropped Ludacris. However, this created more controversy than it ended, as Russell Simmons pointed out Pepsi's hypocrisy and what he considered even to be racism: Simmons argued that Pepsi could not legitimately fire Ludacris for being a presumed violent and profane role model while also employing the Osbournes, who are also known for being violent, vulgar, and profane. Simmons himself, along with Ludacris, then called for a black Pepsi boycott. In the end, Pepsi settled with Simmons by agreeing to help fund black causes, even though the Osbournes were permitted to keep their advertising contracts with the corporation. Ludacris, though annoyed about the situation itself, was happy that he got to keep the money that Pepsi had paid him for the ads. O'Reilly later protested Budweiser's deal with Ludacris.
During the spring of 2003, Ludacris returned to the music scene after a brief hiatus with a new single, "Act A Fool" off the 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack. At around the same time, he released the lead single from his upcoming album, Chicken & Beer, called "P-Poppin'". Neither of his new singles was as well-received by either the urban or pop audiences as his previous songs had been, and both music videos received only limited airplay. Chicken & Beer opened strongly, but without a popular single, the album fell quickly.
However, in the fall of 2003, Ludacris rebounded with his next single, "Stand Up", which appeared on both Chicken & Beer as well as the soundtrack for the teen hip-hop/dance movie, Honey. "Stand Up" went on to become Ludacris' biggest mainstream hit to date, peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and garnering heavy airplay on mainstream pop, rhythmic, and urban radio stations, as well as on MTV, MTV2, and BET.
The album's next single, "Splash Waterfalls", was released in early 2004. Though not a pop hit, it became a success at urban radio and BET, thanks to its being Ludacris' most sexual video yet and an R&B remix that featured Raphael Saadiq and sampled Tony! Toni! Tone!'s "Whatever You Want". Luda next released "Blow It Out", a gritty song that had a heavily low-budget, gritty, and urban-looking music video, which was a huge departure from the colorful, sensual, R&B leanings depicted in "Splash Waterfalls". "Blow It Out" acted as a scathing response to Ludacris' critics, namely Bill O'Reilly, who is mentioned by name.
At present, Ludacris has released "Diamond In The Back", the fifth single from Chicken & Beer. It has more pop appeal than "Blow It Out" and is currently rising the charts.
On 9 December 2004, he released his Red Light District album.