Uncle Luke

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Uncle Luke
Luther Campbell by David Cabrera.jpg
Campbell in 2017
Born
Luther Roderick Campbell

(1960-12-22) December 22, 1960 (age 61)
Other namesLuke Skyywalker, Solo Luke, Uncle Luke, Luke
Occupation
  • Rapper
  • promoter
  • record executive
  • actor
Years active1981–2010, 2017–present
Musical career
Genres
InstrumentsVocals
Labels
Associated acts

Luther Roderick Campbell (born December 22, 1960), also known as Luke Skyywalker, Uncle Luke and simply Luke, is an American rapper, promoter, record executive, and actor. He was the leader of rap group 2 Live Crew, and starred in a short-lived show on VH1, Luke's Parental Advisory.

One of his songs, which used a parody of Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman", was the subject of Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., which was argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, the Miami New Times described Campbell as "the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech".[1]

Early life[edit]

Luther Campbell was born on December 22, 1960, in Miami, Florida. His mother was a beautician with Bahamian ancestry, his father a custodian with Jamaican ancestry.[2] He was the youngest of five sons and was named after Martin Luther King Jr..

After graduating high school, he was asked by his mother to leave the house every weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., regardless of employment.[3]

Career[edit]

Early 1980s: Early career and discovering The 2 Live Crew[edit]

While working as a cook at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach, Campbell was a concert promoter in Miami, bringing all the hot rap groups of the early 1980s to the city. In 1983, he enrolled in an eight-week study course at public radio station WDNA, learning basic audio editing and production techniques.

In 1984, he took notice of a single coming from California named "Revelation" by 2 Live Crew, which consisted of two rappers (Fresh Kid Ice and Amazing V) and a DJ (Mr. Mixx). The single was a smash hit on the South Florida club circuit, so he brought them from California to Miami for a performance. He took a special interest in the group and began managing them.

1986: Starting a music label, joining The 2 Live Crew, and group's breakthrough[edit]

The group eventually fully relocated to Florida without Amazing Vee and in 1986, 2 Live Crew recorded "Throw the D" with "Ghetto Bass" on the B-side, they went into a joint venture with Campbell to start Luke Skyyywalker Records, which was also his first MC name.

In April of that year Brother Marquis joined the group in Miami. Campbell gave The 2 Live Crew a record deal and officially joined the group. They exploded on the local scene with their gold-selling debut album, The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are (1986). This made Luke Skyyywalker and his bandmates rap superstars in south Florida.[4]

1988–1991: Best selling albums and controversy[edit]

In 1988, the group released their second album, Move Somethin'. It was certified Gold and featured the singles "Move Somethin'" and "Do Wah Diddy Diddy". The album improved on the charts from the previous album, making it to #68 on the Billboard 200 and #20 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.

Campbell decided to sell a separate clean version in addition to the explicit version of the album. A record store clerk in Alexander City, Alabama, was cited for selling a copy to an undercover police officer in 1988. It was the first time in the United States that a store owner was held liable for obscenity over music. The charges were dropped after a jury found the owner not guilty.

Their third album As Nasty As They Wanna Be (1989) became the group's largest seller, being certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. In 1990, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled that the album was legally obscene;[5] this ruling was later overturned by the Eleventh Circuit.[6] It is the first album in history to be deemed legally obscene.[7] An obscenity trial followed, in which Henry Louis Gates, Jr., addressed the court on behalf of the defendants, all of whom were eventually acquitted.

Campbell was also infamous in the late 1980s and early 1990s for his association with the University of Miami Hurricanes football team. Campbell was alleged to have been behind what was referred to as a "pay-for-play" system, which involved cash rewards for acts such as scoring touchdowns and big hits,[8] although Campbell has never actually donated to the University of Miami or its athletics department. In 1993, he also threatened to go public with various violations by the university's athletic department, specifically their football program, if Ryan Collins, a black player, wasn't named their starting quarterback for that season.[9]

1990 saw the release of Banned in the U.S.A., originally credited as Campbell's solo album featuring 2 Live Crew and in later editions credited as a 2 Live Crew album. The album included the hits "Do the Bart" and the title track. It was also the very first release to bear the RIAA-standard Parental Advisory warning sticker.[10] It peaked at number 20 on the Hot 100.[11]

The eponymous title single is a reference to the decision in a court case that the group's album As Nasty As They Wanna Be was obscene. Bruce Springsteen granted the group permission to interpolate his song "Born in the U.S.A." for it.

Displeased over the decision of Florida Governor Bob Martinez who, on being asked to examine the album, decided it was obscene and recommended local law enforcement take action against it and over the subsequent action of Broward County, Florida, sheriff Nick Navarro, who arrested local record-store owners on obscenity charges for selling the group's albums and the subsequent arrest of members of the group on obscenity charges, the group included the song "Fuck Martinez", which also includes multiple repetitions of the phrase "fuck Navarro". The group found two other men with the same names, and had them sign releases, as they thought that this action would make it impossible for Martinez or Navarro to sue them.

That same year they released Live in Concert, the group's first and only live album, and their fifth record overall. It was released under the Effect subsidiary label of Luke Records, a move that was deemed necessary for the company to be able to release additional 2 Live Crew material outside of their distribution deal with Atlantic Records. The album peaked at number 46 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[12]

Sports Weekend: As Nasty as They Wanna Be, Pt. 2 (1991) is the sixth album overall and fifth studio album by the 2 Live Crew. A clean version was released later that same year titled Sports Weekend: As Clean As They Wanna Be Part II and was the sequel of As Clean As They Wanna Be. This would be the last studio album by all original members of the 2 Live Crew.[13]

1992–2006: Subsequent success and solo projects[edit]

In 1992, I Got Shit on My Mind was released. It was his first official solo album without The 2 Live Crew. It peaked at #52 on the Billboard 200 chart and #20 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It was the album that spawned the hit single "I Wanna Rock" (better known more prominently as "Doo-Doo Brown"), which became Campbell's signature song. Upon its initial release in 1992, the song did not garner much attention until the following year, when it became a runaway hit, and charted at 73 on the Hot 100.[14]

June 8, 1993 saw the release of his third solo album In the Nude. It was another success, reaching #54 on the Billboard 200 and #8 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[15]

In 1994, he reunited with Fresh Kid Ice, and a local rapper named Verb made an album under the banner The New 2 Live Crew. It is the last 2 Live Crew related project to feature him. The album became a moderate hit, peaking at #52 on the Billboard 200 and #9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, as well as producing two charting singles, "Hell, Yeah" and "You Go Girl" who were both made into music videos.[16]

Freak for Life is Campbell's fourth album. It was released on July 12, 1994, through Luke Records. Freak for Life peaked at #174 on the Billboard 200 and #24 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, making it his lowest charting album at the time. One single found mild success, "It's Your Birthday" peaked at #33 on the Hot Rap Singles and #91 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.

Also in 1994, Campbell co-founded Liberty City Optimists, an inner city youth sports program. One of his notable apprentices is Devonta Freeman, who went on to play college football for Florida State Seminoles, rival of the Hurricanes.[17]

Campbell and his label, Luke Records, Inc. went bankrupt in 1995 and sold their catalogs to Joseph Weinberger and Lil' Joe Records, Inc. in 1996.

Uncle Luke was released on May 14, 1996, on Luther Campbell Music and was mainly produced by Darren "DJ Spin" Rudnick, and Rod XL, with additional production by Frankie Cutlass, Ice Cube and Doug E. Fresh. Uncle Luke was a success, peaking at #51 on the Billboard 200 and #8 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and spawned a single, "Scarred", which made it to #64 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the Hot Rap Singles, the song was also turned into a Video.

Changin' the Game is the sixth album released by Campbell. It was released on November 11, 1997, on the Island Black Music label in collaboration with Luke Records and featured production from Campbell, Rod XL, Lil' Jon and Louis "Ugly" Howard. Though the album was met with some positive reviews, the album was a flop and remains Campbell's lowest charting album, only making it to #49 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. However, the single "Raise the Roof" found great success peaking at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot Rap Singles.[18] The song helped to popularize the arm gesture by the same name which involved repeatedly extending ones arms upwards with the palms of the hands also facing upwards. The song is also featured in the compilation album Jock Jams Volume 4.

In 1998 he played a supporting role in the movie Ride a comedy film written and directed by Millicent Shelton. It stars Malik Yoba, Fredro Starr, and Melissa De Sousa. Also that year he played a supporting role in Ice Cube' The Players Club. The comedy/drama film stars Bernie Mac, Monica Calhoun, Jamie Foxx, John Amos, A. J. Johnson, Alex Thomas, Charlie Murphy, Terrence Howard, Faizon Love and LisaRaye.

Somethin' Nasty is the seventh album released by Campbell. It was released on March 13, 2001, on Luke Records through Koch Records' short-lived independent label distribution unit, KELA (Koch Entertainment Label Alliance) and featured production by Campbell's former 2 Live Crew bandmate, Mr. Mixx, Daz Dillinger, Gorilla Tek, and Campbell himself. The album found minor success, peaking at #149 on the Billboard 200, #36 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #6 on the Top Independent Albums.

Campbell's last release, My Life & Freaky Times, was released in March 2006, and peaked at 32 at the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[19] The first singles serviced to radio were "Holla at Cha Homeboy", featuring Pitbull & Petey Pablo, and the reggaeton-leaning "Pop That" by Plan B and Rey Chester Secretweapon.[20]

That same year, Campbell appeared in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories as DJ Luke for the hip-hop station Fresh 105 FM. Campbell hosts a sports talk show on Miami's 790 The Ticket with former football player Terry Kirby on Saturdays.

2007–present: Later work[edit]

Campbell has previously entered the adult film industry and cites on his MySpace page the need to clean up the "sometimes amateurish new courtship of Hip-Hop and Adult Entertainment".[21] He produced the adult entertainment movie Luke's Bachelor Party in 2007.

In December 2007, Campbell launched The Luke Entertainment Group and took the company public trading under the symbol LKEN on Pink Sheets.[22]

In 2008, he starred in his own short-lived show on VH1, Luke's Parental Advisory.

Campbell was interviewed about his involvement with the Miami Hurricanes for the documentary The U, which premiered December 12, 2009 as part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series.

In 2010, he briefly reunited with Fresh Kid Ice, Brother Marquis, and Mr. Mixx as the 2 Live Crew were honorees winners at the 2010 VH1 Hip-Hop Honors: The Dirty South Edition.[23]

On February 2, 2011, Campbell announced his intention to run for mayor of Miami-Dade County on a platform that includes making housing projects safer, transparency in local government, and taxing strippers.[24] He came in fourth in a field of 11 candidates, winning 11% of the vote.[25]

By Thanksgiving 2014, Campbell reunited with 2 Live Crew (Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis) for a series of shows until 2015.[26][27]

Personal life[edit]

He has six children from five previous relationships.[citation needed] On July 19, 2008, he married law school graduate Kristin Thompson in Dallas, Texas. She is the mother of his seventh child.[citation needed] Luther was brought up in Liberty City, Miami.

On February 18, 2009, Campbell was arrested for falling behind on child support payments.[28] He became a columnist for the Miami New Times[29] in February 2010. His column, Luke's Gospel,[30] provides "a forum for his crazy-ass views on current events," which include politics, sports and entertainment. He is quoted on the web site as saying: "It's the perfect place for me. I am a free-speech guy. It's just a match made in Heaven. Can you believe it? Me turned loose on the world in New Times. Wow."[31]

In 2014, Campbell tweeted that he would be defensive coordinator for Miami Norland Senior High School in 2014.

On December 20, 2020, it was revealed that Campbell had been diagnosed with COVID-19 after being peer pressured to attend a party.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart Positions
US US Hip-Hop
1990 The Luke LP 21 10
1992 I Got Shit on My Mind 52 20
1993 In the Nude 54 8
1994 Freak for Life 174 24
1996 Uncle Luke 51 8
1997 Changin' the Game 49
2001 Somethin' Nasty 149 36
2006 My Life & Freaky Times 35 "—" denotes the album failed to chart or not released

Compilation albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US
[32]
US
R&B

[33]
US
Rap

[34]
"Banned in the U.S.A."
(featuring 2 Live Crew)
1990 20 13 1 The Luke LP
"I Wanna Rock"
(featuring Cee Lo Green and Big Boi)
1992 73 39 8 I Got Shit on My Mind
"It's Your Birthday"
(featuring Cee Lo Green and Big Boi)
1994 91 33 Freak for Life
"Scarred"
(featuring Trick Daddy and Verb)
1996 64 31 7 Uncle Luke
"Raise the Roof"
(featuring No Good but So Good)
1998 26 20 1 Changin' the Game
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Luther Campbell (January 11, 2011). "Column, "Luke for Miami Mayor!" January 11, 2011". Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  2. ^ Jamaican Ancestry
  3. ^ Bishop, Greg (November 5, 2012). "Luther Campbell Has a New Gig, and a New Rap for His Players". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  4. ^ "Gold & Platinum – RIAA". RIAA. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  5. ^ Skyywalker Records, Inc. v. Navarro, 739 F.Supp. 578 (S.D. Fla. 1990).
  6. ^ Luke Records, Inc. v. Navarro, 960 F.2d 134 (11th Cir. 1992).
  7. ^ Deflem, Mathieu. 2020. "Popular Culture and Social Control: The Moral Panic on Music Labeling." American Journal of Criminal Justice 45(1):2-24 (First published online July 24, 2019).
  8. ^ "Cash Bounties Reported at Miami". The New York Times. May 21, 1994. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  9. ^ "Rapper's Threats on Behalf of Collins Trouble Qb's Dad". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  10. ^ Schonfeld, Zach. "Does the Parental Advisory Label Still Matter?". Newsweek. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  11. ^ "Luke Banned In The U.S.A. Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  12. ^ "The 2 Live Crew Live In Concert Chart History". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 11, 2018. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  13. ^ Wong Won, Christopher 'Fresh Kid Ice" (July 20, 2015). "My Rise 2 Fame": The Tell All Autobiography of a Hip Hop Legend. Iconic Three Media Group, LLC.
  14. ^ "Luke I Wanna Rock Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  15. ^ "Luke In The Nude Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  16. ^ "The New 2 Live Crew Back At Your Ass For The Nine-4 Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  17. ^ "Devonta Freeman has unlikely, but inspiring mentor". YouTube. Archived from the original on August 26, 2014. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  18. ^ "Luke Raise The Roof Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  19. ^ "Uncle Luke My Life & Freaky Times Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  20. ^ Clark, Carlos (February 1, 2006). "2 Live Crew Member Tells All". CMJ. Archived from the original on February 7, 2006. Retrieved March 12, 2006.
  21. ^ Luther Canpbell, Myspace.
  22. ^ "LUKE ENTERTAINMENT (LKEN.PK)". Yahoo! Finance. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  23. ^ "Live from VH1 2010 Hip Hop Honors: The Dirty South". Essence. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  24. ^ "It's Official: Luther Campbell To Run For Mayor « CBS Miami". February 2, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  25. ^ "Dade – Election Results". Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  26. ^ "2 Live Crew Reunion at LIV". New Miami Times. November 27, 2014.
  27. ^ "2 Live Crew & Uncle Luke at LIV". World Red Eye. August 31, 2015.
  28. ^ Castillo, Arielle (February 20, 2009). "Luther Campbell Speaks on Going to Jail". Miami New Times. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  29. ^ S. Pajot (November 25, 2014). "Miami New Times website". Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  30. ^ "List of Campbell's columns on the Miami New Times website". Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  31. ^ Luther Campbell (February 23, 2010). ""Fire Heat coach Erik Spoelstra," February 25, 2010". Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  32. ^ "Luke Album & Song Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  33. ^ "Luke Album & Song Chart History: R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  34. ^ Peak chart positions for singles on the Hot Rap Singles or Hot Rap Songs charts in the United States"Luke Album & Song Chart History: Rap Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 10, 2012.

External links[edit]