NYC
04/06/2011 08:54 am ET Updated Jun 05, 2011

Ludacris Partners With Magnum Condoms To Find Great Emcees

Ludacris is all about rap--and wrapping it up.

The hip-hop and movie star hosted the Magnum Live Large Project's freestyle contest Tuesday at the Highline Ballroom.

The top three winners from the New York City battle will have a chance to compete for cash prizes and a spot on stage at Spring Fest Miami in May.

Luda stayed relentlessly on-message as he spoke with HuffPost about the importance of safe sex and what it takes to be a superior emcee. Read the condensed interview below:

Why did you get involved in the Magnum Live Project?
It's a chance for aspiring artists to get their music out there and be heard and win $5,000 and a chance to perform on stage at Spring Fest. For a long time, I've been spreading the awareness about HIV and AIDS and getting people to understand how important it is to be safe. I can also relate because I remember being an aspiring artist and wishing I had opportunities like the one that's being given right now.

What's the hardest part about being a successful free-style artist?
It's easy for people to do it to start out, but it's about consistency and longevity. It's those who stand the test of time. That's what separates the men, from the boys.

What does it take to stand out?
You've gotta be extremely focused, humble and diligent. You have to have a passion to love what you do.

What do you look for in a good emcee?
I look for a leader. You can tell that by somebody who develops their own style. It's something fresh, something new. You can't put your finger on it, but you can just tell when you hear it that it's something unique.

You have an especially distinctive voice. Is that something that a good rapper is born with, or can an emcee actually work on their voice to make it better?
It can be both. Some people are born with a good voice and a lot of people work on it. There are some people where their rapping voice is nothing like their regular talking voice.

What's new with you? Any new projects, tours, albums, movies, to watch out for?
Look out for Fast and Furious 5 and my new album Ludaversal.