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Luke Campbell: He's just a businessman.
  • Luke Campbell: He's just a businessman.

Rapper Luther "Luke" Campbell visited the Rock Hall last week to check out the hip-hop exhibit and answer a few questions during a short press conference. Campbell, the founder of Miami's 2 Live Crew, a group whose ribald song "Me So Horny" set off a whirlwind of controversy when it was released in 1989, rolled into the Rock Hall on what Rock Hall publicist Tim Moore described as hip-hop time -- that means Campbell was a good 30-40 minutes late. After a short tour of the exhibit (during which Campbell watched a video about the history of the MC, ogled the forks in the belt on the Fat Boys costume, and expressed his astonishment at the $5 ticket price advertised on a poster for a Kurtis Blow show in the '70s), Campbell stepped into the "X-rated room," where the lyrics to "Me So Horny" and material from the obscenity trial are on display. He said the dimly lit room reminded him of the "red light district." He leafed through documents from the trial that took place in Florida, when 2 Live Crew was brought up on obscenity charges, and remarked "you got the whole thing here."

During the question-and-answer session, Campbell tried to downplay the controversy that has followed him, instead talking about his role in triggering the whole Dirty South movement in hip-hop, which has produced rap artists like Goodie Mob, Outkast, and Master P. He asserted that hip-hop has provided youth with a new form of "communication." He admitted, though, that he's most known for the controversy of "Me So Horny." Later, talking privately to a couple of reporters, he broke down the history of Miami Bass, explaining that he was interested in copying the deep bass found in reggae music and pairing it with faster 808 drum machine beats when he started recording with 2 Live Crew.

"A lot of people don't know who I am as an individual," he said. "They don't know what kind of businessman I am. They only know me as the wild and crazy man they hear on the records. But as people get to know me, they realize that I'm a real person and a businessman. I have a lot of respect for women."

You can see how much respect Campbell really has for women by checking out his website (Lukerecords.com). Most of the women there are topless, bottomless, fingering themselves, or giving fellatio. You can also purchase the three Freakfest videos he's done (which, given the free samples available for viewing, consist of footage from spring break sex parties) and view other pictures of his risqué parties, which, oddly enough, are up on the same page as photos from a charity golf tournament. As is the case with just about everything with which Campbell is involved, parental discretion is advised. Or, as the website says, "If your [sic] not 18 . . . click off this bitch."

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When Dead Voices On Air's Mark Spybey comes to Cleveland on December 12 for a show at Speak in Tongues (4311 Lorain), he'll feel right at home. You see, Spybey, who played here with Pigface last year, was born in Cleveland, England.

"I got this incredible buzz from being in Cleveland, because Pere Ubu is one of my all-time favorite bands," he says via phone from a tour stop in San Francisco. "I'm actually from an area in England called Cleveland, and Cleveland, Ohio, is named after it because it looks the same. [Never mind Moses Cleaveland's Western Reserve expedition of the late 18th century.] It's a steel-making town, and I felt immediately at home the last time I was here. I just feel an immediate affinity to Cleveland, because it reminds me of my home, but also, as soon as we started to play, people really got into it."

Spybey, who moved to Vancouver some seven years ago, says he's contemplating a move to Europe because he's spent most of the last year playing live shows with Michael Karoli (of Can). One of the great early electronica improvisers, Karoli has taught Spybey plenty about how to perform live.

"The whole process has made me realize that it's really important to hear what other people do," he says of the Can 30th anniversary shows that took place earlier this year in Germany. "I think DJ culture has produced a lot of lazy people, and the whole process of improvising requires that you are in tune with the other people. I think the people who are still driving this electronic movement are the innovators of the '70s: people like Can, Neu, Faust, and Kraftwerk. If you look at what's going on now, a lot of bands are reinterpreting what was going on 20 years ago with new technology, and the technology makes it easier."

Piss Frond, DVOA's latest release, is two discs of ambient techno that occasionally coalesces into actual songs (see the Goth-like track "Sulphur"). Spybey says the disc is only partially representative of what his latest music sounds like.

"We're moving more into song structures as opposed to improvised, ambient electronica," he says. "We're getting more structure into the kind of work we do, and the whole thing has more of a composed feel. But I think good live electronic music, even if it is improvised, has that feel, instead of all this wishy-washy vacuous stuff."

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The Jim Clevo Stage at the JCP Complex will be celebrating its third anniversary with a series of concerts and gallery openings. On December 10 at the JCP Complex (15736 Lorain), the JCP Gallery (a collection of T-shirts, buttons, and local CDs from Jim Clevo's personal collection) will make its debut. That night, the band Eugene Iowa will perform music it has written for the indie film Fakalukas (which will screen that night, as well). On December 11, Odious Sanction and Black Santa play a benefit for NORML, and on December 12, the night of the infamous "hippie buffet," Jim Miller will play an acoustic set. Soundbites wonders if Kent's Kill the Hippies will make an unannounced appearance, just to shake things up a bit. -- Jeff Niesel

Send local music info and Freakfest photos to jniesel@clevescene.com. Walter Novak

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