Luther R. Campbell (born December 22, 1960), also known as Luke Skyywalker, Uncle Luke or Luke, is a record label owner, rap performer (taking the non-rapping role of promoter), and actor. He is perhaps best known as a one-time member and leader of 2 Live Crew, and star of his own show, Luke’s Parental Advisory. As a result of one of the group’s songs, which used a parody of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” Campbell was party to Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. which was argued in front of the US Supreme Court.
Luke’s work as a performer can be characterised as Southern Rap; most of it is part of the Miami Bass sub-genre. The sexual content of his group’s lyrics caused controversy and led to legal cases. Usually, Luke does not rap but rather shouts or chants – very often in a call and response manner, with him calling and the crowd responding. He was not an original member of the 2 Live Crew, only joining them after their first steps as a California rap crew. Only through Campbell did they become “Southern” rappers.
Luke began as a concert promoter in Miami, bringing all the hot rap groups of the early 1980s to the city. In 1983, he enrolled in an 8-week study course at public radio station WDNA, learning basic audio editing and production techniques. In 1985, 2 Live Crew‘s initial single (2 Live AKA Beat Box) was a smash hit on the South Florida club circuit, so Luke brought them from California to Miami for a performance. He took a special interest in the group and began managing them, and only after he saw a lack of stage presence in the front men did he insert himself into the group as their “hype man”.
Luke’s first solo LP, Banned In The U.S.A., was basically a 2 Live Crew record, yet he did not offer royalties to the group for creating the album; rather, a small flat fee was paid. When 2 Live Crew‘s contracts with Luke Records ended in 1991, the group’s producer (and Luke Records’ in-house producer for the entire label) Mr. Mixx left the group and returned to California. However, the group did decide to do a sequel to their biggest album. Initially, Luke employed the label’s second string producers The O.D.S. to produce the album, but it was not turning into the group’s vision, so Luke recruited Mr. Mixx to return and produce the album as an independent producer (T-Shirt and Khakis Productions). However, by the time of the album’s completion, they sought to make it appear as if the group was totally intact. Shortly after, all members of the group drew up a lawsuit against Luke for unpaid royalties, which member Fresh Kid Ice backed out of and revamped a new 2 Live Crew with Luke in 1994. Finally a settlement was reached for the remaining plaintiffs. Shortly after this, label-mate MC Shy D would effectively sue Luke Records for $1.2 million dollars in unpaid royalties. The judge in the case, a former musician himself, verbally stated that he wanted to make an example of Luke.
Luke released a solo record (technically, his first) in 1991 entitled I Wanna Rock (also known as Doo Doo Brown), but he remained true to his call and response style rather than rapping, and hired outside producers. The song is seen as a pivotal point in Miami Bass, sparking what some call its third wave. He released it on the heels of the final 2 Live Crew album, going so far as to stop promotion on their album while the 2 Live Crew single “Pop that Coochie” was still in the charts. It is suggested that Luke wanted his solo song to be seen as the next 2 Live Crew single, despite not having rights to the group’s name.
Luke Records filed for bankruptcy in the mid-1990s. Former Luke Records’ Chief Financial Officer Joseph “Lil’ Joe” Weinberger acquired the Luke Records catalog, and reunified the original three members of 2 Live Crew without Luke during the mid-1990s to release music on Lil Joe Records. Some suggest Lil Joe deliberately forced Luke Records into bankruptcy over unpaid loans between the two men. Lil Joe (who used to produce Miami Bass records) has a vocal style not too dissimilar from Luke, in any case, they both (normally) do not rap and use guest rappers. Crunk music may be seen as the heir of Campbell’s brand of Miami bass, both lyrically and musically.
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.