Yesterday, Ludacris released a video for his new track “Vitamin D,” but the only thing anyone was paying attention to were his abs. The video, starring Luda as a plastic surgeon, features our hero sporting a six-pack that is very obviously more CGI than crunches. It would be strange and funny if these CG-abs were the result of vanity, insecurity, and an amateur graphics artist, but obvious-looking CGI is kinda Luda’s thing. As Stereogum points out, Ludacris has been doing this for years, even if it took some of his fans a minute to remember that.
The rapper’s foray into CGI body-morphing seems to have began in 2001, when he dropped a video for “Rollout.” In that clip, Luda gave himself a tiny body and a big head (or maybe a normal-sized head that looks bigger in the tiny body context).
In 2003’s “Stand Up,” Ludacris gives himself the body of a baby, which is probably not the move of a man worried that his pecs aren’t chiseled enough.
Then there’s 2004’s “Get Back” — you know, the one with the giant hands.
Luda took a bit of a break in the mid-2000s to make Austin Powers parody videos before returning to his CGI habit in 2010’s “How Low,” in which he briefly assumes his classic tiny body look.
Of course, Ludacris is not exactly a CGI music video pioneer. Michael Jackson’s “Scream” video is known for its elaborate use of it, as well as the millions of dollars it cost to make in 1995. And who could forget when the guy from Counting Crows turned himself into a rabbit with bad hair?
But Ludacris hasn’t used CGI as a one-off experiment, and he doesn’t seem interested in getting into more realistic CGI as technology advances. For Ludacris, CGI forces his pattern of body manipulation in videos to extreme, weird ends. His continued use of these visuals also serves to recall all of his earlier work, even if his earlier work now looks dated. CGI is Ludacris’ visual of choice, and with “Vitamin D,” that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon.