Politics, Ass & Self-Advancement: Uncle Luke’s Impact in Miami

Picture Taken from Miami New Times

While we’re all aware of twerking, bounce, or just plain shaking ass- everyone may not be aware of it’s origin. By the early 80’s rap was just about every corner of the United States. But what some people may not know is, is that hip-hop had strong origins rooted in Miami. Back in the day, Miami was a party city, with a lot of Caribbean influence merged with a strong DJ scene. One of the many DJ powerhouses to emerge from Miami’s hip-hop scene was none other than Luther Campbell, or as most may know him, Uncle Luke.

Liberty City, Miami is where it all started. Miami did have it’s challenges though. Most may not know, but race relations was big around this time; we mainly know of riots happening in California and New York, but Miami had them as well. Uncle Luke was very politically aware at a young age because of these riots. Because of this, he became more self-aware, and had a dream of owning his own teen disco. Eventually he saved up enough money to do so.

Uncle Luke brought 2 Live Crew down to Miami. With 2 Live Crew, Uncle Luke was able to see further beyond just being a promoter, he decided to create his own label, Luke Skywalker Records. 2 Live Crew was the first group that he signed. Initially, Luke wasn’t a member of the group, he just managed the group. During one of their performances, 2 Live wasn’t performing well, so he came out onstage to save them, and then became the fourth member of the group.

When you think about the sounds of different coasts, every place has something significant that makes their sound unique. Miami sound was bass. Without bass, you weren’t shaking anything. When you think about the time period that we’re in, you have to remember the rappers who were popular at the time; you have N.W.A., Run D.M.C., and Ice-T. 2 Live Crew didn’t want to sound anything like that.

Throw The Dick, was there first notable hit. It was edgy, and in your face. Once Me So Horny came out, the vision for 2 Live Crew had became much more than what Luke could’ve imagined. 2 Live wasn’t just appealing to Black audiences, it crossed racial barriers and appealed to white teenagers as well-this brought a whole new set of problems. The concern was that the music was getting too explicit.

To enforce some order, Sheriff Nick Navarro said that the group was “verbal pollutants.” A local judge ruled that the album was obscene by community standards. Local record stores would continue to sell their album, and would end up arrested. This situation is quite similar to NWA’s situation with Fuck the Police; except that this wasn’t a direct target on police officers, it was music that was “targeting kids.” 2 Live Crew did a concert in Broward County, where their music was banned, and ended up going to jail that night because of it. The back and forth battle with Sheriff Nick Navarro turned into an all out legal war. This battle challenged one of America’s core values, Freedom of Speech. Outside of the music, on of the main reasons Uncle Luke is revered like he is now, is that he fought this case to the very end, on the premise of, “Does freedom of speech apply to Black people?”He originally lost his case in federal court when Nick Navarro had originally banned the record. So the case had to be fought on appeals.

2 Live Crew came onto the music scene when hip-hop was taking a turn for pop, and a lot of white people didn’t like that, because the music became too mainstream for their liking. The parental advisory sticker was added to their music. Luke won the obscenity lawsuit, and it set precedent for all music to come after.

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