Ludacris didn't become a household name for his humility. The rapper who built an empire on show-stealing guest verses has always been known for his cartoonish excess, his willingness to bend and warp reality until he was a larger-than-life hero (or villian) too charismatic to fail. But on the cover for his new, eighth studio album, Ludaversal, Mr. Feels-Like-A-Midget-Is-Hanging-From-My-Necklace is nodding to his simple beginnings. The art depicts a private jet, the kind that Luda has used to tour the world in his decade-plus as a rapper and actor, beside the same 1993 Acura Legend he has had since before all the money and fame.

Luda rose to prominence right around the turn of the century; his major label debut, Back For The First Time, was released in 2000 to moderate commercial success and some critical acclaim, albeit being just a bit early on the early-2000s Atlanta boom on Top 40 radio. It was his next record, 2001's Word of Mouf, that vaulted him into the national consciousness, moving well over 3 million units and spawning hit singles in "Area Codes," Rollout (My Business)," "Move Bitch" and "Saturday (Oooh Oooh!)."

In addition to his musical success, Luda has become an in-demand actor. Not only has he starred in tentpole franchise flicks like the Fast & Furious series, but critical darlings like Crash, which won Best Picture. The Atlanta rapper was also one of the first prominent artists outside of Chicago and New York to enlist Kanye West's services as a producer; in turn, Luda contributed a hook to West's 2004 debut album, The College Dropout.