Ludacris has always felt a special bond with Canada, dating all the way back to his days filming Max Payne in Toronto with Mark Wahlberg, one of Luda’s early film roles as the Dirty South rapper continued his transition from Grammy-winning artist to Hollywood actor.
“I have this life connection with Canada, all these different connections,” he says, pointing out that he’s worked with Justin Bieber “probably four or five times at this point,” including a recent feature on Justin’s star-studded “Peaches” remix. He’s also been a Drake supporter from the jump, he says, their brief mid-2010s beef notwithstanding: “I remember being there from the beginning, just congratulating him and just making sure that he knew I was there to support in any way I could.”
So it’s no surprise that the multi-hyphenate rapper/actor/producer’s latest project, Karma’s World, also comes with a built-in Canadian connection: Ludacris partnered with Toronto’s 9 Story Media Group to create the Netflix animated series, which features a voice cast that includes Luda himself, along with Tiffany Haddish and Orange is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks. “I come to Canada more often now,” he says. “It’s like my second home.”
Karma’s World dropped on Netflix this past October, where it quickly jumped into the streaming service’s top five most-watched list. (“Not only in one country, but in over 15 different countries,” he points out.) The children’s series, which was named after Ludracris’ eldest daughter, Karma Bridges, was also directly inspired by her, he says.
“She used to come up to me and say, ‘Daddy, I want to rap like you.’ And I used to tell her if she wants to do music, she has to talk about what goes on in her life and her world. And it birthed this idea, of coming up not only with this great music, but to also have a show.”
That meant plenty of his daughter’s real-life experiences made their way into the show, including a number of all-too-familiar microaggressions. “A lot of the things that she went through in real life are part of the storylines in the show. The thing about her name and wanting to change her name because it was not like everybody else’s,” he recalls. “There’s an episode about her hair and kids touching her hair. She had to be reminded how unique her hair is and that she comes from a long lineage of beautiful hair.”
“That’s what makes this show even more special, because it’s drawn from real life situations.”
Complex Canada’s Alex Narvaez caught up with Ludacris to talk about the real-life inspiration behind Karma’s World, being a “girl dad,” and why he’ll always have love for Toronto. Watch the full conversation above.