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Ludacris to teach at GSU as Killer Mike, T.I. make waves for criticizing prosperity gospel

David Pendered
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ludacris, music midtown, 9:22:12

By David Pendered

Ludacris is the latest Atlanta rapper to bridge the divide between Atlanta's hip hop and legacy civic communities. Ludacris is joining Georgia State University as an artist-in-residence, where he's to advise on subjects including entrepreneurship in the entertainment industry.

ludacris, music midtown, 9:22:12

Ludacris was named an artist-in-residence at Georgia State University. Ludacris is shown here performing at the 2012 Music Midtown. Credit: Concerttour [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Ludacris joins rappers including Killer Mike and T.I. in the civic spotlight. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms brought both Killer Mike and T.I into the public embrace, naming them in 2018 to her blue-ribbon transition team. Team members were recommended by the panel's co-chairs – Larry Gellerstedt, now executive chairman of Cousins Properties; and Vicki Palmer, now a management consultant and retired executive vice president of Coca Cola Enterprises, Inc.

Ludacris, as a GSU artist-in-residence, is to help shape the "next generation of digital storytellers," as GSU describes its Creative Media Industries Institute. Hopes are high, Brennen Dicker, CMII's executive director, said in a statement:

  • "Chris is an incredibly talented artist and has so much industry knowledge to share. We are excited to see how our students, and really the entire institute, will benefit from this great new partnership."

Ludacris, whose name is Chris Bridges, was equally complimentary:

  • "Georgia State is one of the most innovative and diverse universities in the country. I couldn't imagine a better place to work with students than CMII."
T.I. new birth church

The face of T.I. (left), captured during a moment of prosperity gospel at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, garnered attention as it appeared on Instagram and was mentioned in T.I.'s podcast, shared with Killer Mike. Credit: instagram.com

GSU observed that this is a coming home for Ludacris, 42, who attended GSU before abandoning college to focus on the entertainment industry. In the ensuing years, Ludacris' accomplishments, according to GSU's statement, include:

  • Selling more than 20 million records worldwide;
  • Served for three years as executive producer and host of the TV show "Fear Factor;
  • Acted in shows including "Crash, Hustle & Flow," "Law and Order – Special Victims Unit," and "The Fast and the Furious."
  • Founder of Disturbing tha' Peace record label;
  • Founder of the Chicken + Beer restaurant that opened at Atlanta's airport, in association with Jackmont Hospitality, Inc., which was founded by former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson and others.

IMBd has a lengthy biography of Ludacris, which includes the notation that Ludacris was graduated from GSU.

Killer Mike has retained a presence in the city's civic affairs following his work on Bottoms' transition team.

Killer Mike, facebook.com:gsumusic

Killer Mike appeared as a distinguished speaker at Georgia State University in October. Credit: facebook.com:gsumusic

On Oct. 17, Killer Mike appeared at GSU School of Music's Distinguished Speaker Series, where he was featured in a moderated Q&A on entrepreneurship in the music and entertainment industry. In addition, Killer Mike serves on the board that oversees the High Museum of Art, to which he was named in August 2018.

T.I. and Killer Mike gained attention this month for criticism aimed at a fund-raising call at the influential New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, in Lithonia. A photo of T.I. making a facial gesture some say was a smirk was widely viewed on Instagram. One of the take-aways from T.I. observed:

  • "This [minister] had the nerve to say, 'Come on, get your blessing heard.' Are you telling me I have to give you $1,000 to have the good Lord hear my blessing? That's probably when I made the face. Unconsciously. I'm talking about, I can't help myself….
  • "This is extortion. You're telling these people, they're not going to be blessed unless they get their money to you."

The two discussed the matter at length on T.I.'s podcast, ExpediTIously. The podcast is rated explicit and the conversation about the incident at church begins about 2 hours and 20 minutes into this edition of the broadcast.

 

David Pendered
David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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