It’s politics as usual for Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell. On April 12, the former 2 Live Crew frontman, along with 10 other candidates, formally applied to run for mayor of Florida’s Miami-Dade County after a recall vote kicked then-mayor Carlos Alvarez out of office a month ago. MTV News caught up with the pioneering hip-hop artist and businessman to discuss his political ambitions.
Campbell said he planned on running for mayor of Miami in 2012, but that Alvarez’s departure sped up his plans to “get off the bench and get in the game, get off the sideline.” Campbell’s platform includes economic development to revitalize small businesses, job creation, public safety and affordable housing, among other initiatives. While mainstream outlets with a superficial understanding of his career may dismiss him as just a former rapper trying to get into politics, Campbell insists his career has granted him just the right experience.
“Look at my history. When you talk about rapper, at the end of the day you can say 2 Live Crew, but who owned the company?” Campbell told MTV News. “I explain to people that I am a businessman, as a kid I DJ’d, and then owned that company, and then 2 Live Crew. I give them the story about it. I let people know I did that on the weekends. I wasn’t able to go on long tours like Run-DMC and everybody because I had to run the business. I had to make hip-hop act] H-Town gold and platinum, I had to go and produce Pitbull and Trick Daddy and all these different artists. People just don’t understand that the music business is a business. It is a global business. That experience is allowing me to be able to run for a public office like this.”
Campbell claims that his Luke Records was the first black-owned hip-hop label, releasing music from 2 Live Crew, H-Town, Poison Clan and his own solo material. Campbell also was instrumental in launching the careers of Trick Daddy and Pitbull. In recent years, the “I Wanna Rock” rapper has dialed back on his “Uncle Luke” reputation. He starred in a VH1 reality series called “Luke’s Parental Advisory” in 2008, and has performed community service and founded youth programs throughout Miami-Dade County for years. In the meanwhile, Miami has become a hotspot for the hip-hop world and the entertainment industry in general. Campbell had a hand in raising Miami’s profile via his artists’ videos and the groundwork he laid for the city’s current crop of hip-hop talent, like Rick Ross and DJ Khaled. Along with being a Miami native, Campbell believes that he possesses a greater affinity for the needs of its residents.
“Right now the entertainment industry is a major economic boost for this city,” Campbell said. “These are some of the things that I created and I did, and I’m proud of that. So when I look at where we need to go as a community, who best has the ideas? Me. Some other guy who really is just in there just to take money from contractors and special interest groups, he’s in there to make money. I’m not in there to make money. I’m all right. I just want to make the haves and the have-nots all be able to participate in this beautiful city and get jobs and live comfortable.”
What might not sit so well with Miami citizens, and what Campbell’s opponents will be sure to point out, are the past controversies surrounding his music. One infamous case was in 1990, when the American Family Association went after 2 Live Crew over the sexually explicit lyrics of “Me So Horny.” 2 Live Crew and Campbell defended themselves by citing their first-amendment rights to free speech and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was dismissed. Campbell defended his rights in court frequently, and being familiar with the justice system is another reason he believes he is qualified to run the affairs of his hometown.
“One thing people know about me, I’m a fighter,” insisted Campbell, who listed Sonny Bono, Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger as examples of entertainers that became politicos. “Controversy comes with politics. All my controversy was based around politics. Tipper Gore came after me — that was politically motivated. When the vice president had something to say about us, when it’s time for me to go to the Supreme Court, all of that is politically motivated. So I understand politics as is.”
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