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Why Ludacris’s 1993 Acura Legend Is Realer Than Real-Deal Holyfield

Or, a meditation on realness at the nexus of hip-hop and car culture.

“Keep it real.” Think about that elemental hip-hop axiom, largely drained of any significance by things like this and this, as you learn how Chris “Ludacris” Bridges will have his 1993 Acura Legend factory-restored to concours condition. The Pebble Beach Preservation Class has nothing on this—which may explain why the Acura is destined for Vegas, not Monterey.

Luda’s Legend will headline Acura’s stand at the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show, more commonly known as SEMA, on Nov. 3. It’s the latest and most direct tie-up between the rapper/actor and the Honda luxury subsidiary, the culmination of a dalliance that has spanned auto shows and sound stages.

During summer 2014, an ad for Acura’s TLX sport sedan was set to Ludacris’s “Pimpin’ All Over the World,” wrapping with the stilted come-on: “Whatever Ludacris Is Doing Right Now, It’s That Kind of Thrill.” In January, Bridges helped introduce the rebooted NSX supercar in Detroit. The trail went cold for many months, but the heat appears to be back.

Undisclosed sums surely have flowed Bridges’ way for the shine he’s brought to a rather rudderless car brand, yet there’s an uncommon flavor of honesty—nay, realness—to the exchange.

Willful link-ups between car manufacturers and hip-hop artists are legion. The Ford Expedition Funkmaster Flex Edition was one of the few that actually reached production, while most foundered in the face of executive hand-wringing. (See: Jay-Z Jeep Commander.) Some hip-hop artists work through their success issues by hacking Maybachs to pieces and auctioning the detritus. Others reinforce their sense of singularity by buying multimillion-dollar one-offs.

And here’s Ludacris, he of already impugned realness, trotting out a trophy from his reliquary that is busted, beat and—were it not for its owner’s fame—altogether unremarkable. He claims to have bought the Legend in 1999, a year before he became super-duper famous. He owns many, many other cars, and yet he’s held onto a mid-level luxury sedan from the Nineties with 230,000 miles on the odo. And not out of any preternaturally far-sighted marketing instinct, but because he liked it.

That’s real.