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Luther Campbell

Luther CampbellBorn: 22-Dec-1960
Birthplace: Miami, FL

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Rapper

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: 2 Live Crew, Luke Records founder

For a time one of the most controversial figures in the music business, Luther Campbell was launched on his road to notoriety in 1985 when he began his association with the rap group 2 Live Crew. A Miami-based music promoter and club owner, Campbell first became aware of the Californian group when their debut single The Revelation became a regional hit in the South Florida area; the popular, bass-heavy style of their music prompted him to invite Crew members Fresh Kid Ice and DJ Mr. Mixx to work with him in Miami, where they would permanently relocate the following year. Campbell then assumed management duties for 2 Live Crew, signing them to his newly-founded Luke Skyywalker Records label and releasing their single Throw The D -- a track that helped to establish what would come to be known as the "Miami Bass" sound.

The group's debut full-length, 1986's 2 Live Crew Is What We Are, attracted enough of an audience to earn it gold record status, but this attention was less a result of its musical style than for the unrelenting sexually explicit content of its lyrics. By the second release Move Somethin' (1987), Campbell (now a full-time performing member under his stage name Luke Skyywalker) had realized how to retain the controversial character of the music while also expanding his audience base, and released the album in both "clean" and "dirty" versions. Unlike the "clean" versions released by hip-hop acts a decade later, where the profane elements are simply obscured or omitted, the "clean" version in this instance involved actually re-writing (and re-performing) the material. By this time, legal action against vendors selling the album (particularly in the South) had become a regular event accompanying each 2 Live Crew release.

2 Live Crew reached the height of their notoriety in 1989, when their double album As Nasty As They Want To Be (and its single-album counterpart As Clean As They Want To Be hit the streets. By this time the group had become one of the prime targets of conservative censorship groups like the American Family Association and the Parents Music Resource Center, and the year after the album's release Campbell and his bandmates found themselves bearing the brunt of the Florida legal system's reactionary tendencies: an inquiry was held on the county level, the outcome of which was a District Court Judge declaring the album "obscene" and making it illegal to sell (or perform) the music. As a result of this ruling, a local retailer and three members of the group were arrested -- although the four were eventually acquitted, and the "obscenity" ruling overturned two years later. Campbell would not prevail in his next legal action, however, when director George Lucas forced him to drop the reference to the Luke Skywalker character from his label and his personal credits that same year.

The court case brought sales of As Nasty As They Want To Be up into the multiple millions, and gave 2 Live Crew an international profile that they would never have otherwise received. Campbell capitalized on interest in the court action by releasing Banned in the U.S.A. through a major label (Atlantic) later in 1990, the content of which alternated between commentary about the case and the Crew's usual sex-oriented material. That year the group was also responsible for the first live rap album, imaginatively titled Live In Concert. After one more studio effort (Sports Weekend, 1991) the original 2 Live Crew dissolved, with Campbell issuing the solo albums I Got Shit On My Mind (1992) and In The Nude (1993), before creating a short-lived "New 2 Live Crew", with whom he produced Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4 (1994). The original line-up briefly reunited in 1995 to record for the soundtrack of the Ice Cube/Chris Tucker comedy Friday, but circumstances forced Campbell into bankruptcy not long afterwards; in later years he chose to focus on his solo career and to promote up-and-coming talent, while 2 Live Crew continued without his participation.

Father: (custodian)
Mother: (hairdresser)
Brother: (three older brothers)

    High School: Miami Beach High School, Miami Beach, FL
    Coach: Ass't Football Coach, Miami Central High School, Miami, FL (2009-11)
    Coach: Ass't Football Coach, Miami Northwestern High School, Miami, FL (2011-)

    2 Live Crew Vocalist 1987-91,1994,1995
    Obama for America
    Obscenity Hollywood, FL (1991), acquitted
    Battery Shreveport, LA (Jul-1992)
    Disorderly Conduct Chicago (Jun-1993)
    Assault Miami, FL (17-May-1994)
    Inciting a Riot Birmingham, AL (20-Aug-1994)
    Bankruptcy 1995
    Battery arrested Miami Beach, FL (5-Jul-1999), charges dropped
    Jamaican Ancestry

    The Player's Club (8-Apr-1998) · Luke
    Ride (27-Mar-1998) · Freddy B

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