Ludacris Talks Hosting 2024 iHeart Music Awards, Beyoncé’s Potential Appearance & His Thoughts on a Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake Battle

Ludacris is ready to tackle his next big role: hosting the iHeart Music Awards. 

Tonight (Apr. 1), the multi-platform star will take centerstage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles at 8 PM EST on Fox. Justin Timberlake, TLC, Jelly Roll, Green Day and Luda himself will all dish out action-packed performances. There might even be a Beyoncé sighting, as the venerable legend will receive the Innovator Award. 

For Ludacris, this will be his first time hosting the iHeart Music Awards — but he’s no stranger to the stage. Having previously hosted the Billboard Music Awards from 2016 to 2017, he’s fully aware of the audience he’ll be catering to, and he’s ready to bring the house down again with his comedic flair. 

“You always gotta know your audience. It’s always different audiences for different events and things you do,” says Luda ahead of tonight’s festivities. “To me, iHeart is all about energy, love and they wanna see their favorite artists. I’m also — humbly speaking — performing as well. So, it’s all about the energy in the building. We gotta keep that as high as possible.”

Billboard spoke to Luda about Beyoncé’s possible appearance, the current feud between Drake and Kendrick Lamar, wanting to reprise his role of Darius on Law & Order: SVU, and more. 

Is the preparation process with hosting similar to when you’re preparing to perform at a concert or act on set?

It’s always [me] praying beforehand and thanking the man above for allowing me to do the things that I love and actually make a living off of it. That’s pretty much the preparation, man. Of course, you have rehearsals and you got things that you do beforehand — but besides that, it’s between you and the man upstairs. 

Beyoncé is getting the Innovator Award. Luda, is she going to be there? 

I hope so. Are you trying to say you think she’s going to have a pre-recorded video or something?

You never know.

You never know. [Laughs]. Listen, I’m sure iHeart is doing everything within their power [to bring her to the show.] She is an innovator. Her receiving that award and being risky with cross-genres and doing what she’s doing with her evolution over the last two decades has been amazing. I love where’s she at, I loved where she was and I love where she’s going. 

You and Larenz Tate were in the studio teasing music. I asked you about four years ago, when was the album coming — I’m back again posing you that same question: Where and when is it coming? 

You know what’s crazy? When you put out so many projects as an artist, you gotta step back a little and live a little bit of life to give the right injection again, because artistry pulls from real life. I just think I’ve been so fortunate to be one of those artists that can make it that far, when you have that many albums — but in order to properly give the fans what they need, I gotta take a step back for a second. Now that time has passed, it’s time for more music. Absolutely. 

Last time we spoke, I asked you if you’ve embraced the word “legend” when speaking on your music career. Let’s flip it. Do you feel you’ve touched those grounds yet on the acting side? If not, what more do you have to do? 

Acting, man, I feel like there’s more work to be done. You can put out music a lot sooner it seems than you can put out movies. Well, Samuel Jackson has debunked that, so I take that back completely.

To answer your question, I have so much more time to go before I can be considered a legend in acting. Now, some people my disagree. I’m a Virgo and I feel like I have to overly do and over-prove in order to solidify [my status to] the majority of the people around the world. I have some more time to go before I can be considered a legend in acting. I’ve accepted it in music. Since the last time we spoke, people don’t even throw that around loosely. They’ve definitely given me the love. I’ve appreciated that and I’ve accepted that. 

You know, this marks Law and Order SVU’s 25th season. As we’ve previously discussed, your role of Darius got a lot of love and acclaim. Because your character walked away free from charges, can Darius possibly make a return this season? 

You know, they haven’t reached out yet — but that goes into your last question of what I was saying. Your work has to stand the test of time. With now my music — in terms of being engrained in hip-hop until this day — they’re still playing it in arenas, like “Move,” “Area Codes” and “Southern Hospitality.” Your movies after a certain amount of time have to do the same thing. Same with your acting jobs. You see Hustle & Flow, I would consider that a cult, legendary film. You got Crash. I still feel like I need a couple more under my belt. But to answer your question, they haven’t reached out. I would love for Law & Order to do that, so we can reprise that role. 

Obviously, the internet has been buzzing since Kendrick came after Drake and J. Cole on “Like That.” Being that you’ve had some competitive days, sparring with rappers on the mic, why do you think this battle is good for the culture?

Man, I’m excited. I’m not gonna lie to you. I think I’m just as excited as everyone else is, just to see how it plays out [and] to see if people are going to respond accordingly. Or all of that can be subjective. Do they feel like they need to?

I feel like that everyone should respond, because we’re in a competitive world. Athletes, March Madness, the Super Bowl that I just did was about the two best teams. Everyone’s talking about who’s the best, and everyone wants to say who’s the GOAT. Right now, I think people are like, “OK. You say you’re the best. Prove that because there can only be one.” It’s exciting. I can’t wait to see what happens. 

Speaking on that competitive fire, how do you personally keep that streak alive knowing the resumé you have? Does it transfer over to the different arenas you’re in like acting and hosting?

That’s a good question. I think I just want to have numerous options and choices depending on how I feel. [Laughs.] If I wake up and say, “I wanna put out some music today,” I’ll put it out. If I wake up and say, “I wanna do a movie” — it’s all art. It’s all entertainment. If I wanna do something in television that’s ingrained in inspiring people, or if I wanna do some philanthropy today or if I wanna host something and uplift people, I like to have those options moving forward in life. I love the versatility and I love diversifying the portfolio to have those options. 

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