Note: This interview has explicit language
The infamous Miami-based rap group 2 Live Crew caused quite a stir in the early 90s when its provocative lyrics and album covers caught the attention of Tipper Gore and the like.
Luther Campbell (once Luke Skywalker) of 2 Live, drove out of his way to talk with me about what it’s like to work against the politicians and the money-making machine of the music industry.
His new book – The Book of Luke: My Fight for Truth, Justice, and Liberty City – drops on Tuesday (August 4), and he offers a few tips for us who are trying to change the game and re-invent the way we do business.
Luke calls me an innovative individual, but I am sincerely inspired by his ability to constantly stand out and re-invent himself. “I try to be a trendsetter,” he says. “I never liked being a follower.”
Take his new book, for example. It’s not necessarily a fashionable thing for hip-hop artists to write and release books, but Luke wants to break down barriers and start a new conversation. In these pages he covers what it was like to be coming up on the scene in Miami and how he changed the game for the better.
It wasn’t his original plan, but it’s funny how things work out the way they’re supposed to.
“I wanted to be a promoter,” Luke says of his first career move. As a DJ in Miami, it was his job to play new tracks and bring in unknown artists to perform.
Finding labels for these artists was impossible. Without any labels in the South willing to sign, Luke created his own. He took his creative energy and his business smarts to help these artists sell their skills and see their success top the charts. But with this success came a bit of backlash from women’s groups, politicians, and even fellow artists who did not respect his knack for sampling and reworking songs, film, and television into explosively sexy dance tracks.
That was all part of the game, though, and Luke was conscious of every business decision he made. His technique?
“I would plan my album releases alongside bigger album releases so people would see it in the store. My album covers would hook you in.”
Tricks like this can lead you to success, but you have to be prepared for any criticism that comes your way – even one in the form of a lawsuit.
What Luke learned from his experience can apply to all of us who are struggling to start and succeed at our own business ventures.
I’ve noticed that successful people always have someone coming after them, and not necessarily in a good way. “We live in a world where all you have to do is get people to complain, then they’ll target you,” Luke says.
So how do you counteract this target?
That’s why he put fight in the book title. “It is hard to beat the machine,” he says. “But you can put some dents in it, and you can make people think. You can fight against the machine… [and] put the pressure on the machine to change.”
Luther Campbell’s experience through the ins and outs and ups and downs of the music industry is cataloged in his new book, and the way he performs under pressure is inspiring. What you can take away from this interview and his book is how important it is not to take orders from anyone but yourself. As you explore your own business techniques, remember Luke’s words: “Never stand down for anything.”
Links and Resources:
- Luke Records
- Uncle Luke TV
- The Book of Luke: My Fight for Truth, Justice, and Liberty City
- Winning the Supreme Court case against Acuff-Rose.
- Ray Orbison spoof
Thanks so much for listening!
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