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Uncle Luke Receives Lifetime Achievement Award at 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards

Gustavo Caballero, Getty Images
Gustavo Caballero, Getty Images

Not too many people could be described as being both a forefather of turn-up music and a first amendment crusader, but Miami’s own Uncle Luke isn’t many people. Whether you realized it or not, the South Florida legend is one of the foremost pioneers of Southern rap, and at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards, he was finally treated as such when he took home the I Am Hip Hop Icon Award at the star-studded Miami event.

“Thirty years in this business, and ain’t nobody ever honor me for shit,” Luke begins in his acceptance speech. “We got kicked off stage because they said we did booty music. Said we wasn’t hip-hop. With the conventions, they told us that the South would not be what it is today. I said fuck y’all,” he continues.

Luke goes on to shout-out others who’ve subverted conventions and transcended perceived limitations to reach greatness. He mentions Khaled, who sold cell phones when Luke first met him years ago, and brings up Rick Ross, who was just a rapper pushing his mixtape when Luke encountered him in the past. He even gives a nod to Cardi B, who herself took home a couple of trophies at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards.

At the midway point of the speech, he continues to touch on the way he’s felt neglected by rap historians. All it takes is a cursory look down his list of achievements and the lack of corresponding awards to realize he’s speaking some truth.

During his time as a record label owner, 2 Live Crew hype man and all-around trailblazer, Luke accomplished a little bit of everything. First, he helped 2 Live Crew make the rap game’s premier raunchy turn-up records, which in turn caused so much controversy that 2 Live Crew’s 1990 album, the aptly named Banned in the USA, became the first ever CD to rock the now-standard Parental Advisory sticker.

Eventually, the group grew so controversial Luke was arrested in Florida for prohibition against obscenity in the county. Eventually, he and 2 Live Crew took their case to the Supreme Court and won. The victory was a huge win for freedom of speech, and in many ways, helped set the standard for what sorts of provocative, over-the-top music we listen to in 2017.

Taking the stage with Luke were his fellow Miami-bred stars DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, and Atlanta Falcons running back, Devonta Freeman, who arose out of the recreational football league Luke started in the city years ago.

Watch Luke’s moving speech for yourself below.

See DJ Khaled, Cardi B, Lil Yachty and More Hit the Red Carpet at 2017 BET Hip-Hop Awards

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