Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell: It’s a Family Affair

Luther Campbell and Uncle Luke are two different people…or so it may seem to the viewers of the new VH1 series Luke’s Parental Advisory. As most of his fans know, Uncle Luke entered the national spotlight over two decades ago when he brought the California duo 2 Live Crew out to Miami to spearhead the […]

Luther Campbell and Uncle Luke are two different people…or so it may seem to the viewers of the new VH1 series Luke’s Parental Advisory. As most of his fans know, Uncle Luke entered the national spotlight over two decades ago when he brought the California duo 2 Live Crew out to Miami to spearhead the booty music movement. Sometimes lewd lyrics in tow, Luke Skyywalker single-handedly stood up for free speech in Hip-Hop music. Sure, other people talked about free speech, but Luke went toe-to-toe with the Supreme Court and went to jail several times to ensure that explicit rap records could stay on shelves and artists could perform their material on stage. That “Parental Advisory” sticker was his doing, and Hip-Hop should thank him.Fast forward 22 years from the 1986 hit “Throw Dat D**k,” and you’ll find a newly married, mild-mannered golf enthusiast named Luther Campbell at home with his family. The D’s being thrown around now are more in the realm of “Don’t do what I did,” and the main controversy on his mind is how to keep his teenagers out of bad dating situations. Luke may be one of the wisest in the game, but the drama never seems to cease for the man who brought “video chicks” to the forefront of Hip-Hop marketing, and discovered talent like H-Town, Trick Daddy and Pitbull. We talked with the veteran entrepreneur about his new show, the politics of music and the country as well as his feelings on past business endeavors gone bad and everything that is good about life now. A lot of the context of your new show finds you working with your kids, who are now teenagers, and not necessarily sheltering them, but trying to show them the difference between the things that you’ve done versus the way you’d like them to behave. How old was your daughter Lacresha when you first told her what you did for a living and really helped her understand what it was?Luke: I really don’t remember, she probably came to me and heard about different songs and asked me about it. Probably when she was about 13, but she’s never really been interested in anything that I’ve done. She’s a girl and interested in her own On the first episode, you are talking to the whole family about the difference between proper dating protocol and a booty call.  Do you think your kids have an advantage over other kids? Luke: Oh yeah, my kids got a big advantage, because I know the difference between a good woman and a bad woman. Fortunately I’ve been able to experience girls from a video shoot whether they’re good girls or models or a straight up groupies, and the difference between nice girls and good girls. I’ve talked to many girls, I like having conversations with people, even with strippers. I’ll go up in a strip club and more than looking at them dance, I’ll be sitting there asking them, “Why are you dancing? What brings you here?” I like more conversation with people.

“I got the vision for the group looking at sports. Every other beer

commercial has got girls with bikinis on and the daisy dukes of the

Dallas Cowboys… there you go 2 Live Crew, no rapper has that.” In the course of your career you’ve had a lot of the “celebrity” pimps say your name a lot and give you a lot of credit as someone they look up to and befriend because of the wisdom that you’re able to give up and share with the strippers. How has that talent [of being able to talk/relate to women] helped you in the course of your career dealing with everyday people in business?Luke: It’s helped me because I’m an analytical person. I analyze everything and wanna see if I can fix something. Throughout my whole career I’ve always been a trailblazer if you look at it. I was the first to independently own a record company, the first independent record company to do a million records with H-Town, the first to do Hip-Hop in the South, the Parental Advisory sticker issue, the first to put girls in the videos and all that. So I’ve always been a trailblazer, and I think I’ve had the gift for that and I just expand on my gift. When I sit down and talk to guys, I have to get that information from somewhere, so I would analyze the situation. Like 2 Live Crew, I found these guys, and obviously they don’t rap like Big Daddy Kane, so now I gotta jazz it up and market it up to where they’ll be able to sell records to the masses, and I got the vision for the group looking at sports. Every other beer commercial has got girls with bikinis on and the daisy dukes of the Dallas Cowboys… there you go 2 Live Crew, no rapper has that. That’s what I do on an everyday So it’s pretty much incorporating a basic psychology [of] getting inside people’s heads and knowing what they want.Luke: Exactly. When I introduced girls in a video, BET, MTV and everybody in the world was basically like, “Oh man, you can’t do that.” I was only introducing what I see everyday living in Miami going to high school on South Beach from the 6th to the 12th grade. When I played hooky, I didn’t go to somebody’s house, I was on the beach and everybody was either topless or in thongs and all that, so that’s all I saw. The vision of my product has always been a product of my society. There’s a segment in the first episode of Parental Advisory with your son where [your wife] found a pornographic movie under his bed. How hard is it for you to tell your kids, “Just because I did it doesn’t mean you can do it”?Luke: It’s easy, because even when they find out about what daddy does and did, and if they get some story from the street like, “Your dad has all the girls, he sleeps with a bunch of girls” which is what most people think, but that’s not true, then I’d have a conversation with them about it. If they come back and tell me that and I find them with some adult material and they tell me, “Well you had this stuff” which is what kids like to do, blame everybody else for what they know is wrong. Then we’ll have an intellectual conversation. I always told parents, “You need to raise your kids and don’t worry about me raising your kids, I’m just an artist, you should take the music and use it as an educational tool.” With this show, it allows me to do that, it allows me to say and do everything that I’ve always told people to do for many years and when my kids come to me and say, “Daddy, you did that” I say “Daddy was a grown man, daddy was working a job,” and if they wanna know more in detail I’ll give them more in detail. At the end of the day they get it, because they do know that I’m an entertainer and they somewhat know what I’m known for Your wife is considerably younger than you are. Was there ever a point in meeting her of having to explain the difference between Luther Campbell and the Luke who she grew up watching on TV?Luke: That was the thing, I always figured if I married somebody they wouldn’t be marrying me for “Luke,” they would be intelligent and smart enough to realize that I am an entertainer. Most women wouldn’t go to Arnold Schwarzenegger and say, “Why were you beating all these people up in Conan The Barbarian?” Any smart person would know, “He’s an entertainer, and if I’m attracted to him then I wanna get to know this guy.” She wanted to get to know me as Luther Campbell, and at the same time, some people unfortunately get to thinking that when it comes to rap we’re all killers, murderers and if I got girls in the video I’m automatically a p### star. I know I gotta have a conversation with her and prove that [I’m different], I know a lot of guys don’t feel like they have to do that. I feel like I have to do that, and I ain’t got a problem putting my ego to the side and saying, “Whatever you may think, we can have a conversation and at some point you’ll find out the man who my mother and father raised. You’ll realize who I am.” That’s what I was always looking for, I met many girls, many years and they say they wanna get to know me, but eventually throughout the course of whatever relationship they fall into showing that they really wanna be with Luke. If you ask me, “Why we ain’t doing the red carpet?” you wanna be with Luke – and then I kick ’em to the curb because I really don’t have time for The show is called Parental Advisory, and people know the war you went to for those Parental Advisory stickers. You went to jail several times, and [went] up against politicians who were against letting rap even be on the shelves at the time. Do you ever feel a little bitter that people in the rap community didn’t stand behind you as much as they should have?Luke: For the most part yeah, because when I look at it to this day, rappers at that time were so against me because I was from Miami with the biggest group in the south – and you’d have Kid N Play at that time, Salt N Pepa, Kwamé, you name it, and they’d get on TV hating on us. They’d get on BET and be like, “Yeah they’re no good, they need to get rid of them.” I had no problem with that, that was their opinion. But some of the ones who knew me, like the Russell Simmons and all them of the world, I thought that maybe they would come to my aid and none of them came. I remember clearly I came up here to New York the same year, came to the Grammys and they made this big stink about honoring an artist who was a “freedom fighter.” They didn’t reveal it. They said, “We’re gonna honor this artist because they’re fighting for free speech and censorship in battles all over the land” and then they said, “Madonna!” I was like, “Get the f**k out of here!” I ain’t been to a Grammys since. Throughout the course of the years, that right there is basically how this industry has treated me – by honoring people who’ve done 10 percent of what I’ve done for Hip-Hop. I don’t have a problem with people getting honored but when you go to the Supreme Court, when you got a record banned for lyrics and you fight that…I took my money, I could have just let it die. It wasn’t like I was going to jail for that, I took my money to fight for Hip-Hop because I truly believed in it, when i’m the person I was the first guy to bring a rap group to Miami whether it was Divine Sound, T-La Rock, Jekyll & Hyde or whoever it may have been. I was that. I believed in the culture and the music way before I got in the game, because I was a DJ and I was just in love with Hip-Hop, and I brought these guys to Miami and introduced these guys to Miami. So when I got in the game I was a gatekeeper I felt like if I was being attacked so then I needed to fight for it, that was something that got me to where I was. Doing those shows and parties helped me understand Hip-Hop, helped me understand the business of it. I would sit there and talk to Run-DMC, pay them $1,000 to do a show and I would talk to each one of them. That was my life, so I believed I truly needed to do what I needed to do in order to protect the things that was before me. No credit for that.At the same time being the first guy in the South to start an independent record company, the first guy to start a street team – even though they gave that credit to Loud Records, said they was the first street team company, which was a lie. I look at everything I did being a trailblazer, and every year when they have award shows and honors or whatever and, for example, they say, “This year we’re gonna honor Master P…” – all my friends and colleagues in the South be more mad than I When you first got big, a lot of people were saying music with raunchy lyrics wasn’t real Hip-Hop, but they didn’t understand that you were in the trenches starting this independent label which spawned the rest of the Florida movement like the Quad City DJs, 69 Boyz and all these guys that did sell a million records by themselves. They set the trend for what New York later on did…Luke: I remember coming to [the] New Music Seminar, that was a major convention along with Jack The Rapper, you’d go in a room and it would be 5,000 people at a panel at the Marriott Marquis. I remember clearly the most influential people in the business sitting on that panel and guys would be in there like, “That Miami s**t will never happen, it’s a fad,” and I remember one day I got up and was like, “One day you’ll eat your words” and that had to be 18 years ago. Do you know we sold 500,000 records and we didn’t do that in Miami? I would have to break down where we sold these records at it was throughout the south, Philly, Detroit, and Chicago. I would tell them, “One day it’s not just gonna be one record, company or group from the south, it’s gonna be many. They gonna come from Charlotte, Memphis, Houston, Atlanta and all over and when that day comes it’s gonna be real hard to put the fire out in the South.” I said, “The reason why I stand up here and tell you the importance of why I do what I do is because if there’s no versatility and it’s all just New York and the South, it’s gonna fade like house music, disco and all different types of music that came and went. If there’s no versatility, people are gonna get tired of one side.” Don’t be mad if Philly is giving you Schooly D and you’re getting Egyptian Lover and all them guys, Yella and them from California. Just be happy that now it’s gonna be versatility in the music and that it’s gonna be around longer. I told people, even to this day right now I’m more upset that it’s not much more Hip-Hop coming from New York as much as California. I truly believe it has to have versatility in the music to stay around. It can’t all just be from one There was a point where Snoop and Dre came to Florida for one of the conventions. How did you feel having them there [in light of the beef at the time]?Luke: At one time there was a controversy with us and [Dr.] Dre and all them, back then it was beef here and there. It was Roxanne [Shante] against The Real Roxanne, Kool Moe Dee and LL, that’s really what Hip-Hop was. It was us against Dre, and then Snoop made a record and that was [Dre’s] new artist, and the record he made was a dis against me, and I did a dis against them. That’s what started Snoop’s career, and there came a point where Suge took over and was slapping up every executive in the country. It became an issue where I told Jack The Rapper and their people, “Look, we need to sit down and have a conversation” because I’m about peace, and it felt like they didn’t wanna have a conversation with me. Suge and Snoop were there and it was like “Okay, I’ll be there and they’ll be there” and things hit the fan and it was obviously a big fight and we won the fight being that it was in Atlanta. Then we got together and I invited them to Miami during the Super Bowl and I said “Look, y’all come down and we’ll squash whatever problems.” I brought them to the game, we sat down in my skybox and talked and it was Are you still banned from South Carolina?Luke: Yeah I am. Hopefully my TV show won’t be banned. [laughs] This is the year that I’m done, I don’t know if it’s August or October when it runs out. The N word has been a huge conversation with Nas attempting to title his album, the record labels wanting to support it but being scared by corporate forces, and more white kids using the word than ever before. How do you personally feel about the N word today versus 20 years ago or overall?Luke: Twenty years ago it was a very degrading word – we had total separation in the races before rap started crossing over. A long time ago I said the political fights that I went up against weren’t really about the lyrical content, it was more about more white kids buying records than Black kids. Eventually it won’t only be 2 Live Crew, it’ll be other rappers and white kids will understand Black people more. I said that when a kid at 10 or 12 years old hears a record and understand what’s going on in the hood, a white kid gets the record, starts listening to it and likes the beat. Now he becomes 30, and he’s the guy who becomes educated, smart and is running for Mayor, City Council, Congressman or President, everybody then understands everybody much more and it goes beyond just going to school and reading this textbook about Martin Luther King, you hear the music. I said before, you know it, you’ll have white kids dressing like Black kids, Black kids dressing like white kids, everybody will understand a lot more about each other and the music will actually bring the races together. Fast forward 20 years later and now you’re able to have a Black guy running for President where you have just as many white people voting for him as you do Black people. I predicted this all the way back then, and I understood that that’s what the fight was, the powers that be didn’t want the integration of the music because the music was telling us stories and getting people to understand each other and erasing the color lines. When it comes to the N word, it has a white kid saying it and a Black kid saying it as well, and it’s not as disturbing as it used to be. Black folks have some housecleaning we need to do because our race is really separated. We have liberal and conservative Blacks. The spokespeople for the conservative Blacks like Sharpton and Jesse Jackson go run up in the record companies and all these places saying they speak for all Black people, which is not the truth. They say, “We need to get this off, this is degrading” and it’s not true. For the first time ever, we have a guy in Obama who speaks for the liberal Blacks, the white kid and the Black kid who grew up on Hip-Hop understanding and loving it know it ain’t about race. It ain’t no color line. The N word is a degrading word and it should be thrown in the garbage, but I can’t agree that it has the same impact it had 20 years ago. The music erased a lot of what people went through, the average 21-year-old or 45-year-old ain’t experienced going to the back [of the restaurant] to get a meal. They didn’t experience getting hosed down and sprayed in the streets like what you see on the TV. We’re reminded of those things by looking at what history was, but at the same time we didn’t go through that.

“…We have to be more careful because we haven’t elected a Black president yet. They’re looking to tie him to anything in the world to say, “Yeah he’s a n****r too,” they’re trying every day to get that “angry Black guy” out and the guy is sharp as a [tack].” Recently Ludacris put out a song [talking bad about the other candidates] and there was a response from Obama’s campaign [denouncing it]. How do you feel about rappers having to be very careful with what they say? Do you think it’s fair to take one for the team, or that you should be able to speak about this election and what’s going on?Luke: It’s history in the making, and unfortunately we still live in a world where we’re making a transition, you got old heads that’s in Congress, you don’t see 30 and 40-year-olds, you see 60-year-olds. The powers that be are 65, 70 and 75-year-old guys who really don’t want it to be like it is now. It goes to the same thing now, you have a lot of older people who are still stuck in the ‘50s who were the first ones to go out there and vote, so you oughta be sensitive to that. Ludacris and myself can’t do anything, because they wanna make [Obama] an Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson type of a activist. So he has to come out and speak against that. Does he feel like it’s true? I’m sure in the back of his mind when Hillary was coming out and doing her the thing the way she was towards him, he felt “If it was a white guy she wouldn’t be coming at me like this and stretching this election this far, and Bill wouldn’t be saying some of the comments that he made.” Ludacris speaking for himself and not for Barack Obama was basically saying things that we all want to say, and that a lot of people say in the back rooms. He’s exercising his First Amendment rights. Obama is exercising his First Amendment rights as well, but we have to be more careful because we haven’t elected a Black president yet. They’re looking to tie him to anything in the world to say, “Yeah he’s a n****r too”, they’re trying every day to get that “angry Black guy” out and the guy is sharp as a [tack]. He’s a very sharp guy who understands the world. He’s 45 and I’m 47, I understand the world. If I go into a room, I understand they don’t want to give me a check, they want that angry Black guy so they can so, “Oh, there he goes, the angry Black guy who doesn’t like Black people.” This past week the House of Representatives issued a formal apology for slavery. How do you feel about that, do you feel it’s sincere or warranted at this point in time?Luke: I feel like it’s some bulls**t. Everything that happens today is to get a reaction from Barack Obama and hear how he chooses his words. As soon as they do something they put the mic in his face, “How do you feel about that, Barack?” they want Barack to say, “Well they shoulda did that s**t a long time ago, they’ve been treating Black people this way…” When they call you an activist, that means you’re a n****r, that means you’re the Black KKK when you become an activist who’s outspoken and speaking for African-Americans. When they see that coming, that means every door in the world closes on you. They want a reaction from him so he can then take the role as an activist, and then when you see the guy talk he’s very careful the way he chooses and picks his words, because we live in a world of soundbites – plus we live in a world of fast technology that’ll go, “Barack said they should have been did this, and yeah he’s a n***e*.” How do you feel about Lil’ Joe selling the catalogue of 2 Live Crew music?Luke:  Lil’ Joe used to work for me. The world understand what he did, which was in my opinion stole my music from me, and in my opinion he conspired with the other lawyer Richard Wolfe to get to a point where I had to file Chapter 11. He did that, stole the music, the group, the different groups that I had, something I worked very hard for. I got no deals from anybody, nobody gave me anything. When you take your money, plant a seed and build it, and a tree blossoms from what you put all of your work and energy into, it’s really sad and it hurts in my opinion that a guy could really steal some stuff from you. The public knows that he did what he did. He’s been trying to prevent the story from coming out for so many years. Eventually it’ll come out. Unfortunately nobody wants to write about it and I don’t know why. That should have been the cover of every Hip-Hop magazine, because it’s still educational and was talking about educating these young Hip-Hop artists in the game. They need to understand the game from all angles, it ain’t all glamorous, you can get your s**t stole from you. So it’s just amazing that people haven’t written about this guy and that whole situation. But at the same time, I think he’s selling [the catalog] because people just ain’t buying it for the reason that they know it falls down the line of Hitler paraphernalia. If you buy his stuff even right now from who he sells it to, no member of H-Town or Poison Clan gets any of those royalties, which is a very sad thing. All of those records, no one gets the money, and he gets it if it’s one or two records sold. Dude is probably having a difficult time selling records because people understand that, they’re probably bootlegging it more so than buying it from him because they know where they’re buying it from. The best thing for him to do is probably sell it, and the people he sells it to should probably do the same thing. If they’re buying it, hopefully that’s to give it back to the rightful owners. But if they’re buying it to make profit they’re no different than him. When I look at that and I look at him, he holds the contracts to Brother Marquis and Fresh Kid Ice, he got them on some kind of crazy wild contract preventing them from working with me and Mr. Mixx to be able to go out and do a reunion album or tour. These guys can not even work with us because of this one guy, so that’s why it’s so amazing that people don’t write about this. When this guy goes and sues 50 Cent, [the headline] says, “Luke is suing 50 Cent” but then I have to go and issue a statement saying he owns that catalog and that he was the one suing him. It’s amazing how the Hip-Hop press allows him to get away with what he gets away with, without exposing him for the sake of new and existing artists not to get f** Since you’ve been through it all, as a dad do you one up your kids a lot and stay a step ahead of them?Luke: Oh I’m way ahead of them. They think I’m an old man but I’ve seen it all, been involved in it all, been around it all and I know every game in the book from Mattel to Sega to Playstation to Playstation 2, so they can’t get over on me at all. That’s why it’s so funny when you see the show and you see these kids running around trying me. I’m like, “Yo, my man I know you got the freaky movie. I’m glad that it’s a girl on boy and not a boy on boy, but I know what you’re doing.” I done been there, so I got a lot of experience to pass on. How does Uncle Luke evolve to be married and settled down? What did your wife do to get you to the point where it was like, “You know what, maybe I can get married”?Luke: My wife is good, and I told her that what she has to do is write a book. To get Uncle Luke locked down, every girl wants that book, that’s like the manuscript. Every girl needs this, because there’s a lot of Luke in a lot of men, but even with that Luke in them there’s a key to opening up that safe. She did by being strong, respectable and honest. She’s just straight honest and will tell you anything. We’ll talk about guys and girls we’ve dated before and she’s just honest, most girls pretend to be the Virgin Mary. Just by her being honest  and strong, because being Luke’s girlfriend, fiancée and wife comes with a lot of pressure, because her friends, other people [say], “He’s this and that, he slept with all of the dancers” and she had to constantly defend me. She’s still defending me even though we’re married.

I was telling my daughter the other day, and I’m gonna try and tell my son as well, “Don’t read the blogs. Whatever you do, do not read the blogs.” Her friend unfortunately sent her a blog with some negative stuff on there and through the show she’s finding out who her real friends are. When her friend sent it to three of her other friends she realized, “You wasn’t really my friend, you sent the s**t to all my friends.” Me and her had already had the conversation with the kids about what not to get into, because this family ain’t gonna be no trainwreck, this is gonna be one of those marriages that do work because this marriage is not about a show. This ain’t Hollywood and we ain’t making believe for nobody, we’re gonna be who we are when the show is off, when it’s done we’re gonna be the same.

I just try to protect them from the negative things, because they’re not entertainers. I’ve been criticized all my life, when they talked about whether my album was “hot or not” in The Source, that was a blog with a critic saying whether or not they liked my album. I’m used to it and they’re not, so I just try to prevent them from being hurt through this whole process, and I try to keep them away from certain things that will hurt them and make them start to second-guess themselves while the camera is on. Luke’s Parental Advisory airs every Monday night at 10:30 PM ETPT on VH1