Not signing to a record label was the stepping stone for Ludacris to invest in his artistry.

Ludacris, who in his early days worked at an Atlanta, GA, radio station and became known as DJ Chris Lova Lova, would eventually catch the attention of record labels and producer Timbaland, scoring a feature on the single, “Fat Rabbit.”

During a podcast interview with “Drink Champs,” Ludacris noted the attention he began to receive from record labels after that. Still, it did not translate into landing his own deal. This pushed him to dive into his pockets to release his debut album “Incognegro” in 1999.

“I’ve had my moments with each of those entities, but I never signed with them,” Ludacris said. “Even with Timbaland, there was a time when I was about to get signed to Timbaland because of my first record before ‘What’s Your Fantasy.’ I was on his album, and I had a song called ‘Fat Rabbit,’ which ended up being on ‘Back for the First Time.’ So again, I went through all of these processes, and nobody really stepped all the way up, which caused me to put my money into myself and invest and do the whole ‘Incognegro’ album.”

The “Incognegro” album was released independently through Disturbing tha Peace. Ludacris said it cost $20,000 to create the album. When Ludacris was 21 years old, he said the album led to his biggest payday and established his reign in the music industry, which may have been non-existent without it.

“I sold 50,000 records at $7 a pop. I got a $350,000 check when I was 21 years old. Biggest check I ever got, all put into myself,” the Hip-Hop artist mentioned. “And I made the whole album for like $20,000. But that’s all the money I saved up from all the after parties and sh-t that I was doing when I was 18, 19, and 20 from working at the radio station. So, it was all part of the plan. It was very strategic and it took longer than I thought, but that sh-t worked out the way it needed to work out. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for it.”