Uncle Luke: 'I Was a Freedom Fighter for Rap'

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Stian Roenning

"Uncle Luke" Luther Campbell photographed in 2015.

Since the 1980s, 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell (aka Uncle Luke) has been one of hip-hop's most outspoken figures, fighting censorship all the way to the Supreme Court, helping pioneer Southern rap and even running for mayor in his native Miami. In new memoir The Book of Luke: My Fight for Truth, Justice and Liberty City (published Aug. 5 by HarperCollins), the rap vet explains how to leave a mark.

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Study The Past
"Early on, I got into black history -- H. Rap Brown, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X. It made it easier when people attacked me; it was the same thing they went through."

Know Your Worth -- Even If they Don't
"I'm the Rodney Dangerfield of music. I pretty much started the first label in the South. Nobody understood at the time. I was on [a tour] bus with Fresh Prince, Kool Moe Dee and Russell Simmons, and I had to tell them, 'These major labels got you choked.' When I broke the numbers down, they couldn't believe it. I changed the face of black music right there. I'll forever be blackballed in this game, because I f--ed it up for people who want it to be a slave trade."

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Find Unlikely Allies
"Bruce ­Springsteen and Sinéad O'Connor both came from someplace totally different, but they were the first ones to [defend 2 Live Crew]. They understood ­everything we were fighting for. Guys in hip-hop? They were just chilling because we wasn't from New York."

Fight For Your Rights (And The Future's)
"I was a freedom fighter for rap. Tipper Gore was trying to crush the industry. I fought for free speech so Lil Wayne and everybody could say what they want."

This story originally appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of Billboard.

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