At Long Last, I've Won an Achievement Award
Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke talks about the lack of respect for his accomplishments
It's humbling when your peers show appreciation for the work you've done. That's why I am really honored that Miami's Film, Recording and Entertainment Council will present me with its Lifetime Achievement Award during its tenth Star Gala this Saturday, December 14. If there's one thing missing from my resumé, it's recognition from the entertainment industry. In 2010, the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors gave props to my contribution to Southern rap. But that's about it.
Neither I nor any of the artists on my defunct independent record label have ever been nominated for a Grammy, an MTV Video Music Award, or a BET Award. Not even a damn Soul Train Award. Yet I set the standard for many things that are used by hip-hop artists who came after me. I'm the guy who started Southern rap music and guerrilla marketing.
When I launched Luke Records, I'd load up my car with albums and tapes and drive around the city like I was running a political campaign. I wrote the blueprint for doing your own record distribution and laid the foundation for all the independent label owners who followed me. I'm the reason they put parental advisory warnings on album covers. I was the first music executive to release clean and dirty versions of an album, as well as the first to shoot videos on our beautiful beaches at a time when Gloria Estefan and other big-name Miami artists were flying out to Hollywood.
And don't get me started on my fight to protect 2 Live Crew's raunchy lyrics as free speech. I fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. My outspokenness is the reason many big names in hip-hop never respected me or the artists on my label. I wasn't just fighting Tipper Gore and Parents Music Resource Center. Two Live Crew was denounced by New York rappers such as Run-D.M.C., the Fat Boys, Eric B. & Rakim, Salt-n-Pepa, and Kid 'n Play. They'd go on MTV, BET, and the Arsenio Hall Show to talk shit about us.
I remember going to the New Music Convention in New York in the mid-'80s. An executive for a major record label dismissed Southern rap as a fad. I promised him that Southern rap would one day rule hip-hop. Judging by the success of Miami-bred Poe Boy Entertainment and Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, as well as the transplanted Cash Money Records, I got the last laugh.
I'm also the label head who discovered the first Cuban rapper and the first hip-hop philanthropist, giving money back to my community and starting youth organizations such as the Liberty City Optimst Club. I'll never be part of the cliques that guys like Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin roll with. But I know my place in hip-hop history is right alongside them.