“I taught those kids who came down to my club, not knowing how to feed their families. I taught them how to walk that line that every black man from the hood has got to walk. I taught them to leave that thug shit behind. No breaking the law and doing wild shit. But you also don’t ever apologize for who you are or where you come from. You don’t ever apologize for being black. You obey the law, you play by the rules, but that doesn’t mean for a second that you conform to what other people want you to be. You be yourself. Be as loud and as flashy and as nasty as you wanna be, and don’t ever apologize for it.”
I knew Luke from hearing his name back in the early 90s when his group 2 Live Crew was making headlines with raunchy songs about every possible form of sex. Besides the super-popular stuff that came on the radio or played on TV, I didn’t know much more of their music.
After reading The Book of Luke, I learned there was a LOT more that I didn’t know.
These days I know Luther Campbell for his outspokenness when it comes to the city of Miami; particularly his hometown of Liberty City (a Miami neighborhood). Luke has his hands in politics, youth football, academics, and will always have his roots in music.
What I liked most about The Book Of Luke, though, was the Miami (being a resident myself) & hip-hop history lesson Luke gave me as a reader.
Being an American city, Miami has its history of negative news pertaining to treatment of Black people. Luke isn’t that old, but he had family members who lived through the worst shit and would school young Luke to the game.
One interesting point was how Blacks used to not be allowed on Miami Beach, period. Another was how I-95, the highway that stretches from New England through Miami, built their road through the neighborhood of Overtown, displacing many Black families and Black businesses.
Luke remembered all the teachings he got from his father and uncle, and applied them as he grew into an adult.
Luke started the first Black-owned rap label in the history of rap.
No parent company, not under anyone’s umbrella. In today’s world of brand deals and creators making great stuff that they don’t own, this is a very important (and impressive) point. Luke was also the first rapper in the south to be recognized anywhere outside of his town. Before Atlanta, Houston, or anywhere else had a rapper, Luke was doing it.
Luke owned all his recordings, his own warehouses, clubs in Miami, all of his merchandise, and would even hire rappers from New York (like Run-DMC) to come perform in Miami in his early days. Luke was a true entrepreneur who maintained his focus on ownership. Many later 90s rappers credit Luke for showing them the ropes of owning their work instead of being owned by some (White-owned) company.
Luke explains how he started as a DJ who would only grab a microphone to hype up crowds at park jams, and how that swelled into rapping and what his group became.
Luke was the one who created that “Parental Advisory – Explicit Lyrics” sticker for albums! He made it because of the uproar his lyrics were causing amongst some anti-fans. He argued a censorship/free speech case all the way to the Supreme Court, and won.
Luther Campbell is a legend.
You Should Read The Book Of Luke IF: You’re a hip-hop fan who wants to learn some history of the game. If you’re in the first group, you have to be in the second group.