Luther Campbell, Miami New Times columnist and hip-hop godfather, has inked a deal with Lionsgate to star in a biopic based on his memoir, The Book of Luke, which chronicles his rise from inner-city party DJ to rap superstar and owner of an influential independent record label.
"I've always viewed myself as the Rodney Dangerfield of rap music because I've never gotten any respect from the industry," Luke says. "Now I'll get the opportunity to tell the real story of how I created hip-hop in the South."
At the height of his career, Campbell stirred up many controversies, fighting both conservatives and liberals — including the late Broward County Sheriff Nick Navarro and Al Gore's former wife, Tipper, who accused Campbell and 2 Live Crew of making sexually explicit music that degraded women. His fight took him all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Along the way, he discovered some of Miami's hottest artists, most notably Pitbull, the Cuban-American rapper who is now an international star. Campbell's autobiography also captures his love affair with football, documenting his relationship with University of Miami Hurricanes players in the early '80s and '90s and his founding of the Liberty City Optimist Club, which has mentored scores of African-American boys for more than a quarter-century, some of whom became big-name stars in the National Football League.
Details such as a release date, who is writing the screenplay, and who will direct and star in the movie are still being ironed out, Campbell says. But the ball got rolling after Campbell's friend, comedian and actor Mike Epps, read The Book of Luke.
"He believed it was worthy of a Hollywood treatment and started working like crazy to find someone to produce it," Campbell says. "The success of the N.W.A. film Straight Outta Compton and the Academy Award-winning Miami film Moonlight helped open doors."
Epps persuaded Marty Bowens, the producer behind the Twilight movie series, to get onboard. Then Bowens lined up Lionsgate, which had three films — La La Land, Hacksaw Ridge, and Hell or High Water — competing against Moonlight for best picture this year.
Campbell hopes the result will be a biopic on par with those of radio shock jock Howard Stern's biopic Private Parts and The People Versus Larry Flint, the movie about the publisher of Hustler magazine.
"This movie will reveal a lot of events that hip-hop fans didn't know took place," Campbell says, "even people from Miami."