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Speaking to Yahoo Life just days before announcing the July 28 birth of baby girl Chance Oyali Bridges, Ludacris didn't let on that he'd already added a fourth daughter to his brood ("I'm going to be happy with whatever the universe brings me," he said of the possibility of having his first son). But the rapper and actor also known as Chris Bridges couldn't hide his "joy" at being a family man, gushing, "You never know how much love is possible."
It's fitting, then, that his new commercial as the face of Jif's Lil Jif Project campaign is something of a family affair, with eldest daughter Karma Bridges, 20, making a cameo appearance in the Dave Meyers-directed spot. Though he has a personal weakness for peanut butter — slathering it on French toast, pancakes, apples and s'mores or enjoying it straight from the spoon — the campaign is also an opportunity to showcase his brand-new song, "Butter ATL."
Here, the F9 star opens up on returning to the recording studio, loving life as a girl dad and teaching his kids to set goals — and mind their money.
Your daughter Karma has a cameo in the commercial. Are you giving her any advice about how to navigate this industry?
Not more than she's giving me advice on what's cool [laughs]. The reason she's even in the commercial is 'cause she's telling me what's hot. All dads — no matter if you're a hip-hop superstar or not — there's going to come that day, where you thought for the rest of your life you would be telling your children what's hot in music and then one day you realize they're the ones that have to tell you. So yeah, I tell her how to navigate, but it's more about being a person of her word and doing what she says and says what she does. And I think that it's also about being a great person when it comes to socializing and being comfortable in your own skin. You can have a lot of fun with [this industry], as long as you are creative and you treat people the way you want to be treated. So we both give each other advice.
The Jif commercial pits you as the old-school rapper [with up-and-comer Gunna representing the new school] Are you an old-school dad? Are you reading up on the latest parenting theories, or are you doing what you were raised with?
I think with this commercial and with parenting, you have to take a new-school and old-school approach, no matter how young or how old you are. It's like the best of both worlds; it's all about balance. The number one thing that I've tried to teach my children that was taught to me is setting goals for yourself, because if [you're] not, there's no navigating through this world. You're just kind of at the hands of what the world wants to do for you, as opposed to what you want to do for the world. When you have a very strong sense of exactly what it is you're trying to accomplish, and you set timelines for yourself and you set precedents, I think that's one of the most important things... to teach individuals about, so that they have a navigation system of where it is they're going.
You've been acting for so much of the past several years. How did it feel to get back into music for "Butter ATL"?
It felt great. You hit the nail on the head: When you have the option to do both, which are dreams come true for myself, [but] if you're doing one, the other one's slightly getting away a little bit. Since I completed 10 whole albums and just celebrated the 20-year anniversary of my first album, I felt it was OK to take some time and shoot some movies. And it just makes me realize how much I miss and love my number one passion and number one love, which is music. So when the universe brought myself and Jif together — the one thing I eat every day is peanut butter, since I was a kid and I never get tired of it — it was the dream collaboration and partnership for me. I mean that from the heart. This song was inspired by everything that came together, from the idea of the commercial and me loving Jif since I was a kid.
What's your favorite part about being a girl dad?
My favorite part is the fact that I melt in their arms and it's hard for me to tell them no. I'm the soft dad; they give me a certain smile or a certain look... Their mothers have to be the ones that are hard on them and I'm always the one that's the pushover. So I think that's the favorite part because I never thought I'd be this way. I'm an only child, so I never even thought I would have this many children, but it's a joy. You never know how much love is possible. It's amazing... the amount of love that's in my household is something that I never fathomed. I wouldn't say it never felt impossible; I just never dreamt it because I didn't know that this much could be given and received every single day.
You've got another baby due any day. How are you feeling, and are you hoping for a boy?
I'm extremely excited, and just like all the other times I'm going to be happy with whatever the universe brings me, for sure. Me having girls so far is the reason why I've come up with all these different creative platforms that are coming out, like this Karma's World [animated series] that comes out on Netflix this fall. And then I have a platform called KidNation that's geared toward kids. If I didn't have daughters, these things wouldn't have come into fruition. So I let them lead me and inspire me into what I'm supposed to do legacy-wise at this point in my career.
Your Ludacris Foundation includes programs to empower young girls. As a dad, how do you work to empower your girls at home?
Oh man, I empower them every single day. I think that them being very confident in who they are and loving themselves is obviously the most important [thing]. Telling them that they all have special gifts and that they're all different and not necessarily trying to compete against one another, but that they're very unique in every sense of the word with their capabilities and finding what it is that they're really good at doing. And then loving one another and supporting one another and [knowing that] they're stronger together than they are apart. These are just some of the things that I try to instill in them.
Two of them are 6 and 7 years old, so I just want to instill that early and really get them understanding about money and saving and how to spend. They have little credit cards now and they have an app where they're learning about money. And I love that because schools don't necessarily teach these things — and that's something that's happened over the pandemic, is just being more hands-on with our children and teaching them certain things that may not be a part of their everyday curriculum.
When did you start giving them an allowance?
This all happened within the last year. I don't want to rush them into adulthood, so I try to ride a very fine line of slowly introducing certain things that I know will be useful as they get older and still letting them be kids as well.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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