August 27, 2012

Banned (for the wrong reasons)

Not so long back, I looked back at the contribution of the 2 Live Crew in the late 80’s. During my review I committed to upload their full length VHS home video that was released in 1991.
Well, spare time has been scarce in recent months, so I’ve not had a chance to do it yet, but for once this has worked in my favour.  Instead of me sharing an old VHS rip, someone on YouTube has uploaded a laser disc version for our viewing pleasure.

Now cast aside any thoughts you might have about Luther Campbell and his somewhat unique brand of sex rap, and let us remember that the 2 Live Crew took on the US justice system to define what freedom of speech really meant.
I didn’t care how many times they use the word bitch on their album, nor how many times they used the F or N words (or any other profane or derogatory term), but I was deeply concerned about record store owners being told what they could or couldn’t stock. [Hell, I remember the only reason I copped a copy of N.W.A.’s 2nd LP was because I knew the store owner, and even then he made me buy a bullshit album and gave me N.W.A.’s album free with it so that he couldn’t be accused of selling banned album!].
If the American do-gooders had won this particular argument, it could have opened the door for wholesale censorship on a grand scale!!! So, unexpectedly, I find myself thanking Luther Campbell for fighting for our freedom of speech (but I still won’t buy his records, lol).

Watching this home movie 20 years on, I’m seeing it all from a whole new angle, and I find myself wondering whether the right outcome would have been a compromise between the do-gooders and the 2 Live Crew. Whilst I’m completely against the suppression of freedom of speech and artistic expression, I’m pretty certain that the 2 Live Crew’s victory effectively gave every record exec full authority to put as many scantily clad hip hop honeys, shaking their ass, in every video they could without the fear of being challenged. And lyrics could now be as derogatory as you like, cos hey, nobody’s going to challenge it. The problem isn’t with the derogatory content, it’s that those who specialise in this field are extremely limited in almost every other aspect of lyricism. I’m not thanking Luke for that!

What’s also interesting is the attitudes of the people, and their appetite to stop this type of music from damaging the kids, even though rock and roll had already committed most of the same crimes several decades before.

This video contains excerpts from the infamous Donahue interview, footage of the concerts that got stopped, the record store that got raided etc, along with the usual live footage and videos for the singles.

Click image for full size view (to see the credits, not the ass!)

I’m not recommending that you watch this because you’ll enjoy the music (although I’m sure some of you will), but it’s certainly worth watching as a reminder of the tribulations that hip hop once faced and just how brazen the 2 Live Crew actually were. Let’s face it, I’m sure there was part of them that just wanted to test how far they could push it whilst living it up and having a good time. Unfortunately, it turned a credible group from the electro era into perceived sex addicted rappers (with the help of Luke of course!).

Speaking of Luke, my understanding has always been that the 2 Live Crew was originally Mr Mixx, Fresh Kid Ice and Amazing V. Then Brother Marquis joined, followed lastly by Luke, whose primary role was label owner and manager. We know that he later started rapping and eventually became the group’s front man, but scroll back up and take another look at the DVD cover. It says Luke featuring the 2 Live Crew! So Uncle Luke makes a video and he’s kind enough to let his homeboys jump in, lol. The guy is unbelievable. Without the 2 Live Crew he would still be a virtual nobody living in Miami, because his solo career shows that there isn’t much of an audience for his music.

Well despite my clear disliking of Mr Campbell, I do like some of the early 2 Live Crew joints and even some of their later sex fuelled tunes were cheeky, good fun and gave me a wry smile, which is something that we’re distinctly lacking in hip hop today.
And you might be wondering about the title of this post?  Well for those of you who have stuck with me this far (thank you), it's my cheeky opinion that they should have been banned for recruiting Luke, not for all the profanity and vulgarity!!!

Mike Check.

Update Jan 2014 - Bill Adler from Def Jam Records has shared a number of newspaper excerpts and clippings from his personal archives that serve as a timely reminder of how the whole 2 Live Crew vs censorship debacle went down.  There are some gems in here, including the article on the juror's who enjoyed the offending music!


  1. It's clear that your personal opinions are based on your personal emotions. 2 live crew would not be 2 live crew without luke. i would recommend that you do some fact checking on backgrounds of both the group and luke prior to them coming together. luke was a well known party promoter in miami doing rather well. it was because of his business acumen that the group rose to fame and pushed the limits of free speech. prior to luke, 2 live crew was not doing records like me so horny, pop that coochie, etc. luke was the mastermind and creative force behind the group. it's obvious that since they broke up, luke went on to still find talent, develop them and they went on to success, not to mention his various business ventures. 2 live crew, well not so much. not 1/2 of a hit record, no successful business, didn't produce nor develop any artists, and ummm trying to get $2k for a club performance by misleading promoters and club owners that luke is still part of the group. the fact that you even took the time to post this dumb unintelligent, uninformed writing says big time that you are a HATER.

    1. Hey ‘anonymous’, that’s some interesting feedback?!?!? All opinions are welcomed here, cos at the end of the day nobody is right and opinions are like arse holes, we’ve all got one!

      Yep, I don’t like Luke (and this is a common feeling amongst most bboys and hip hop fans), and I’ve got no shame in admitting that. There’s no need for me to check my facts, I grew up in this era and I remember it clearly. The history documented here IS factual and you aren’t giving any alternative view (you’re just pissed that I don’t like Luke).

      The 2 Live Crew were successful before Luke, and although they may have gone on to sell more records with him, this is not a measure of skills, ability, integrity etc. Everybody knows you’ll sell a lot of records if you say something that will get you banned, or overtly promote sex, it’s been done countless times before (so yeah, great business acumen from Luke the mastermind). All Luke added to the 2 Live Crew was sex, and when they started rhyming about sex, they blew up and caused controversy. Give it up for pure genius right there.

      You may have noticed that this site is aimed at the mature bboy who gives a damn about the history, the culture, the art form and the founding principals of hip hop. Others have (helpfully) added to, or challenged some of the information I share here. This has been welcomed, because they’ve contributed positively and refrained from acting like a bitter 10 year old girl in the school playground. You could learn something from these people.

      Finally, I’m not a hater, it takes too much time and energy to hate someone/something and I gain nothing from it. I just have an opinion, I’m willing to express it, and I don’t expect others to agree with it (in fact life is more interesting when people don’t agree, and can have a healthy debate about their differing opinions). I feel really sorry for you that you have to lower yourself to trolling, and throwing personal insults because you don’t agree with someone. May I suggest you need to find another website to visit that caters for the younger generation? Good luck with overcoming your adolescence too, it’s a difficult period to get through.

  2. peace and light!,you're no hater,and you're blogwork is spot on got next on this....,mr mixx from 2 live crew,used to live in london,and honed his skills in places like ladbroke grove at the uk's 1st hip hop jams,what i like was a good twelve(funky dope dub as well),but 2 live became too porn focused and slightly immature for my are a credit to the hip hop uk scene,more power to you and best wishes,from the root,to the fruit,peace and light hiphoppa...."dabs".

  3. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, and for your feedback and support.