When the Dirty South movement broke nationwide at the turn of the century, Ludacris rode it to immediate widespread popularity, becoming arguably the most commercially successful Southern rapper of the time. In 2000 the Atlanta-based rapper signed to Def Jam’s newly established Southern rap subsidiary, Def Jam South, and became the label’s flagship Dirty South artist.
Def Jam repackaged his underground album Incognegro (2000) as Back for the First Time (2000) and issued “What’s Your Fantasy?” as its lead single. The song soon became a national hit, beginning a long string of hits that would include Billboard Hot 100 number ones (“Stand Up,” “Money Maker”) and Top Tens (“Move Bitch,” “Splash Waterfalls,” “Pimpin’ All Over the World,” “Runaway Love”), as well as a bunch of Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Top Tens (“Southern Hospitality,” “Area Codes,” “Rollout [My Business],” “Saturday [Oooh Oooh!],” “Get Back,” “Number One Spot”). Plus, Ludacris became a reliable featured guest, gracing Top Tens for Missy Elliott (“One Minute Man,” “Gossip Folks”), Mariah Carey (“Loverboy”), LL Cool J (“Fatty Girl”), Chingy (“Holidae In”), Usher (“Yeah!”), Ciara (“Oh”), Jamie Foxx (“Unpredictable”), Fergie (“Glamorous”), and others.
Moreover, Ludacris established himself as a versatile actor, notably appearing in such mainstream films as 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), Crash (2005), and Fred Claus (2007), among other films and TV series. Along with associate Chaka Zulu, Ludacris also founded his own boutique label at Def Jam, Disturbing tha Peace (aka DTP), which released albums by such diverse rap/R&B acts as Shawnna, Bobby V., Field Mob, and Playaz Circle.