Luke Records, Inc. was established in 1986, one of the many ventures of Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell.
The journey began as a teenager where he interned at one of his brother's companies in Washington DC. When he returned to Miami, Mr. Campbell worked various jobs including as an intern with radio station WEDR, as a cook at Mt. Sinai and eventually as a DJ. As a local DJ, Mr. Campbell traveled across the city playing his records at the local schools, parks and teen discos. His venture became so successful, that he purchased a sound truck with intentions of becoming a successful concert promoter. However, it was his discovery of a rap group (2 Live Crew) based out of California that would change his life and mark the beginning of his journey as a pop culture icon.
It was Mr. Campbell who decided, after the group couldn't obtain a record deal from any major or minor record, to start his own record label to distribute the group. Luke Records, Inc. was born in 1986 out of the back of Mr. Campbell's mother's washroom. Mr. Campbell handled not only the marketing and promotion but even had the records pressed in a factory in Hialeah. His painstaking effort was not in vain as the rest they say is history.
2 Live Crew was the subject of national headlines, Congressional hearings, and in the early 1990s, the Supreme Court case Campbell vs. Acuff-Rose Music. In 1999, Court TV showcased Mr. Campbell's clashes with the law in the hour long documentary "2 Live Crew: As Lewd as They Wanna Be." His obscenity court battles are the direct reason stores can sell profanity-laced albums by acts like Eminem and 50 Cent today. Indeed, 50 Cent's biggest hit, "In Da Club," borrowed its signature hook from Mr. Campbell's classic "It's Your Birthday."
As the pioneer of Southern Hip-Hop, the record mogul helped launched the careers of such artists as Trick Daddy, H-town and Pitbull. Never one to conform to expectations, Luke Records also released successful gospel and Christmas albums.
Not only was Mr. Campbell the first African American to open a successful record label, but he also ushered in a new way of viewing hip-hop. Traditionally, hip-hop was featured in the inner cities of New York and L.A. Graffiti and breakdancers were the theme of most videos. Living in arguably one of America's most beautiful cities, Mr. Campbell provided a fun and outgoing perspective of hip hop that the country had never seen before. He was the first rapper to shoot videos in Miami with scantily-clad girls on beaches and boats. As a result, he created what is now considered the number one location and format for rap videos. In the October 14, 2003 issue of The Miami Herald, a top executive at BET explained why The Source Awards were being held in Miami for the second year:
"Miami's history is always important because of bass [music] and [Luther Campbell], and it's important to be anchored in the South because Southern hip-hop is so hot," said Stephen Hill, senior vice president of music and entertainment programming and talent for BET, which is televising the awards Nov. 11. "Miami is important to the past and the future of hip-hop."