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#ThrowbackThursday: Bill O’Reilly VS Ludacris

By Matt Clizbe

Heads are spinning in the no spin zone now that mounting evidence of  sexual harassment has resulted in the firing of long time Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly this week.  Following an in-depth investigative report by the New York TImes, it has been revealed that the FNC figure head is connected to previously confidential harassment settlements with 5 women that worked for or in conjunction with the network, which totaled in $13 million.  That report, which was published on the first of April, resulted in advertisers steadily pulling away from him, eventually causing a massive financial loss for Fox News Channel/21st Century Fox, and creating an international public relations nightmare for its parent company News Corporation, which is currently in the process of a multibillion dollar negotiation to purchase Britain’s Sky news.  These developments grew to be of special interest for those of us in the music community because of the many times that the O’Reilly Factor host would spearhead different crusades against key figures in entertainment, hypocritically claiming a moral high ground for him and his increasingly controversial network over the past 21 years.  

One of the best examples of this came in the early 2000’s, when O’Reilly placed his own kind of conservatively driven political pressure on Pepsi for doing an endorsement deal with then relative new comer Ludacris.  Fans are likely to recall that Chris “Ludacris” Bridges rose to fame following the release of his major label debut album Back For The First Time in October of of 2000.  Thanks to the album’s colorfully raunchy lead single “What’s Your Fantasy”, Back For The First Time went triple platinum and peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200.  This established Luda as a hot new talent in the genre and established him as a formidable entrepreneur, thanks to that release being lead by his own start up Disturbing Tha Peace Records, which then broke into mainstream national/international markets through a  partnership with the Island Def Jam Music Group. That unique blend of preparation and talent only added to the explosion of his success when he teamed up with mega producer Pharrell Williams’ The Neptunes production duo with Chad Hugo for the album’s second single, “Southern Hospitality, which helped him dominate the hip hop genre throughout the year of 2001.  Luda then nearly mirrored that success when he quickly followed up with his sophomore release in 2001.

Ludacris Featuring Shawnna 

“What’s Your Fantasy” 

From Back For The First Time 

Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South/Def Jam Records/Island Def Jam Music Group

Ludacris Featuring Pharrell Williams  

“Southern Hospitality” (Explicit)

From Back For The First Time 

Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South/Def Jam Records/Island Def Jam Music Group

After hitting Stores in November of 01, Word of Mouf also went triple platinum with singles like the Timbaland produced “Rollout (My Business)”, the Organized Noize production of “Saturday (Oooh Oooh)”, the Jazze Pha helmed “Area Codes” and “Welcome To Atlanta” with Jermaine Dupri , which took him to the peak of his success as a musician ,and  caused him to catch the eye of Pepsi, who offered him an endorsement deal in 2002.  As discussed in the New York Times bestseller The Loudest Voice in The Room by Gabriel Sherman, the post 911 cable news climate boosted the Fox News Channel and the O’Reilly Factor to the apex of their popularity and influence, which emboldened BIll to broaden his reporting beyond politics and hard news, to direct his energies to a seemingly personal attack against Ludacris, simply because his music contains mature themes.  


“Roll Out (My Business)” 

From Word Of Mouf

Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South/Def Jam Records/Island Def Jam Music Group

Ludacris Featuring Sleepy Brown

“Saturday (Oooh Oooh)” 

From Word Of Mouf

Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South/Def Jam Records/Island Def Jam Music Group

Ludacris Featuring Nate Dogg

“Area Codes” (Explicit) 

From Rush Hour 2 Soundtrack/Word Of Mouf

Def Soul/Def Jam South/Def Jam Records/Disturbing Tha Peace/Island Def Jam Music Group/UMG Soundtracks

Jermaine Dupri And Ludacris 

“Welcome To Atlanta ” 

From Instructions/Word Of Mouf

So So Def/Columbia Records/Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam South/Def Jam Records/Island Def Jam Music Group

Ludacris’ lyrics, especially from that time, are sexual, and clearly laced with the influence of a hetorosexual libido, but to the surprise of no one who actually listened to his music, O’Reilly’s public pressure of Pepsi shamelessly mischaracterized him and his music in order to mobilize unfamiliar non-Luda listeners against him without context.  

O’Reilly famously called for a boycott of Pepsi on August 27th 2002, claiming that Ludacris’ lyrics glamorize a “life of guns, violence, drugs and disrespect of women”.

“Americans should let the merchants of bad taste know that hiring corrupters and incompetents is not acceptable,” – Bill O’Reilly, September of 2002.  

The O’Reilly Factor’s pressure resulted in Ludacris being swapped out for early 2000’s rock band Popa Roach, even though Pepsi’s research showed that Luda’s popularity was as high as any of their other spokespeople given that opportunity. Comparatively, according to MTV, Papa Roach had a history of graphic lyrics about suicide, public indecency, and appearing porn videos. As far as we know, Mr. O’Reilly had nothing to say about it.

Despite the difficulties, Ludacris would begin have a steady stream of last laugh’s only two years later, when the O’Reilly’s harassment patterns were first made public.  The most watched name in cable news was being watched by everyone for his now infamous reasons, when former O’Reilly Factor producer Andrea Mackris filed the first of the 13 lawsuits to be publicly known.  Ludacris was one of those people watching, and made sure to immortalize O’Reilly’s hypocrisy on the second single to his 2004 album, Red Light District called “Number 1 Spot.”

Complete with a very thorough Austin Powers In Goldmember theme, the song/music video also sported the very clearly targeted lyrics;

I’m never goin’ nowhere so don’t try me

My music sticks in fans veins like an IV

Flows poison like Ivy, oh they grimy

Already offers on my 6th album from labels tryin’ to sign me

Respected highly, Hi MR. O’Reilly

Hope all is well, kiss the plaintiff and the wifey

Bill O’Reilly Sexual Harrassment Recap

VH1/Fox News Channel


That began what many would consider a karmic shift for the embattled stars.  Though his tactics and the culture at the Fox News Channel under its now disgraced leader Roger Ailes gave Bill enough space to succeed as the top rated cable news host for 15 years and diversify into radio, books and movie production, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges has gone on to surpass any of the shallow summarizations that were placed on him by Bill 15 years ago.  Now, as the 67 year old O’Reilly is being forcibly retired, Ludacris is at a new level of fame, co-starring in the Fast and The Furious mega franchise for Universal Pictures, and just recently released his latest effort as a rapper called “Vitamin D.” Like his earlier work, “Vitamin D” features another sexy but comical video that was released this month.  

Ludacris Featuring Ty Dolla $ign

“Vitamin D” (Explicit)

Disturbing Tha Peace Records

“The irony of it is crazy,” Ludacris said in a recent interview with Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, as Newsweek points out. “It’s not my place to judge Bill O’Reilly the same way that he judged me. That’s how I feel about it. It’s a lot of maturity and a lot of growth. I’ve moved on past it. I’m thriving in life right now, and all I can do is hope that Bill O’Reilly settles these issues and learns from whatever mistakes he may have made and also thrives. But it is definitely ironic that both Pepsi and Bill O’Reilly are both under fire right now.”

We see the irony related in BIll O’Reilly’s willingness to take an uninformed moral high ground against mischaracterized music and artists to further his political agenda, and we see the irony of his career downfall. We also see Chris “Ludacris” Bridges at the top of the box office as part of The Fate of The Furious ensemble.  We also see that this week’s TBT shows that, at least right now, karma is very real.  Check out Ludacris’ hilarious “Bill O’Reilly diss” from 2004, and hear how this was a long time coming.  Enjoy “Number 1 Spot” below. Peace!


“Number 1 Spot” 

From The Red Light District

Disturbing Tha PeaceDef Jam Records/Island Def Jam Music Group

 Related Media 

The Fate And The Furious Trailer 

Original Film/One Race Films/Perfect World Pictures/China Film/Universal Pictures