'Rising Star': Ludacris on Voting Honestly, Cursing on TV and Becoming a Villain

"Within the first three or four seconds, he blew me away," the ABC show's expert said of his favorite, rocker Jesse Kinch. "He killed it up there!"
ABC/Bob D'Amico

While not all of Rising Star's first crop of contestants won over America with a qualifying vote, one expert in particular might be rubbing audiences the wrong way: Ludacris. And he doesn't mind at all.

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Alongside fellow experts Kesha and Brad Paisley, the rapper-turned-actor was often the first to shoot down a contestant with his vote, usually encouraging the other two to follow. He also voted "no" the most throughout the season premiere on Sunday night, and at one point, responded to a slew of boos from a corner of the studio: "I ain't afraid!"

Immediately after the live broadcast in Los Angeles, Ludacris told reporters, "I didn't feel bad at all. Because at the end of the day, I have to be honest with myself, first and foremost. And I don't expect everybody to agree with me. If you don't agree with me, if somebody at home has an opinion, they're not doing their job if they don't have the application because they have a say. I only have seven percent of the vote."

He explained to The Hollywood Reporter that he's not concerned about turning himself into the singing show's harsher personality, which has ranged from American Idol's notoriously negative former judge Simon Cowell to the tough but friendly recent addition Harry Connick Jr. "I'm not worried about it at all. As long as I'm being honest, then it is what it is. I don't expect everybody to agree with me. I don’t expect that any human being expects everybody to agree with them on anything! It's a hard position, but people have their opinions about me. I can't lose any sleep about it. It is what it is."

In fact, he's got his own criticism to share with the other experts. "I'm more mad at Kesha and Brad because I feel like, deep down, a lot of the people they were voting 'yes' for, they really wanted to vote 'yes.' So that's who you should be mad at — tell them I said it!"

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Still, he was nothing but positive while on the red carpet after the taping, telling reporters that he was drawn to the show because of the breakthrough format. "I'm a technology geek, so as soon as they told me that there was a show where people could actually download an application and be part of the vote, that right there did it for me, period — I'm more excited than anybody," he said, adding that he's already got a favorite singer in mind: rocker Jesse Kinch, who growled on "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins. "Jesse killed it — like, within the first three or four seconds, he blew me away. I didn't expect it at all because, like I said before, he's so soft-spoken, and he just completely exceeded my expectations. He killed it up there!"

Ludacris did admit to THR that he does have one concern about the show: "That you're gonna curse," he said. "But luckily there's a delay!"

Rising Star airs Sundays on ABC.

Email: Ashley.Lee@THR.com
Twitter: @cashleelee