Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court
stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times.
This week, Luke describes Pitbull's early struggles in the rap game.
Jennifer Lopez debuted her new single "On the Floor," featuring Pitbull, shortly
before the new season of American Idol kicked off last month, it showed how far
Mr. 305 had come since I discovered him many years ago.
Back then, I was reading
an article in a newspaper about the US Census and how Latin Americans were
growing by huge numbers across the country. I thought it would make good
business sense to develop a Latin artist. I also figured that, since I was here
in Miami, I needed to find a Cuban-American who represented the city's
predominant Latin culture.
So my scouts fanned out to find a rapper with
Cuban swagger who could hold his own. They brought me a Source magazine battle
tape that featured Pitbull spitting rhymes. I immediately knew he was the one. I
brought him into the old Luke Records office and told him I could see him doing
big things. If he kept his head right, I said, he would be worldwide
I put him through Luke's School of Hard Knocks. I took him on tours
where he had to freestyle-battle other rappers. I ran him through the most
difficult situations a performer can experience. It didn't come easy for him.
But he listened to me. He kept fighting.
I had a heck of a time
convincing people in the radio and music business that he was the real deal. I
remember begging the program and radio directors at Power 96 (WPOW-FM 96.5) to
play his early tracks. I fought them because I found it ludicrous that they
didnt want to promote the first Cuban rapper from Miami. I find it funny that
Power 96 is now one of his biggest supporters.
And while my other artists
such as H-Town were disowning Luke Records, he stuck with me. He
is so loyal to the people who have played an important role in his life. Guys
who have worked for both me and Pitbull have nicknamed him Baby Luke because he
conducts business in the style I taught him.
So to see this kid from the
streets of Miami become a world icon has been a beautiful thing.
Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.