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The world of music according to Miles

Mainstream hip-hop can be all right once in a while. Like the World Cup, the hip-hop soap opera is fun to talk about and stay up late for. What I really love however is science. I especially love new research that makes life a little better-like, for example, research that shows positive effects of semen.

The good semen news, according to research results published in the New Scientist magazine, is that the protein and hormone rich fluid may be an anti-depressant. The State University of New York study led by psychologist Gordon Gallup showing that women who were directly exposed to semen through the vagina were less depressed. The researchers think this is due to mood altering hormones in semen that are absorbed through the vagina.

Critics argue that there could be dozens of other explanations for these results, but the researchers insist semen is the reason. But before you go getting all semen happy, remember safe sex is important! The good doctor reminded the world that, “clearly an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease would more than offset any advantageous psychological effects of semen.” There has only been speculation about semen’s effect on men but if VD and babies aren’t a risk for couples of all kinds, men and women of all orientations may be able to take greater advantage of the new nature’s Prozac. Hooray for semen!

So now that that subject has gotten a little gross let’s talk about the mainstream hip-hop soap opera. Some hip-hop enthusiasts, if not fighting depression with semen are pleased with the arrival of a new condom marketed directly to the hip-hop community. The new latex wrappers, called Jimmie Hatz, are named after the popular nickname first coined in the Jungle Brothers song “Jimbrowski.” Marketing majors everywhere are slapping their heads in frustration while asking, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

Meanwhile, some members of the hip-hop community and fans of the music have been buzzing about a lengthy diatribe mainstream rapper Nas spewed on New York’s Clear Channel station Power 105.

While often rapping about sex, mainstream New York based rapper Nas hasn’t created a buzz by commenting on the semen study or the new Jimmie Hatz. The buzz is about the mouthful he gave New York listeners last week. In what started as another installment in the battle between a fellow rapper who likens himself to the divine, Jay-Z aka J-Hova, “son of God” Nas went off on the Hot 97 radio station, the on air personalities and fellow mainstream artists Angie Martinez and Funkmaster Flex, and the sad state of mainstream hip-hop today. Apparently “nasty” Nas, wasn’t allowed to bring an effigy of Mr. Z, the “Jigga” on stage at the Hot 97 Summer jam concert. He bailed on the show and went over to the rival mainstream hip-hop station Power 105.1 who inexplicably claims to “keep it real” while simultaneously being a homogeneous blip in the 1200 station Clear Channel radio empire.

Nas said hip-hop artists should quit sacrificing quality for radio play and album sales. He failed to blast ignorant American audiences for buying the crap in the first place, but this is certainly a start. He said that rather than “sucking dick” to get a mainstream jock to spin your wax, artists should remember that hip-hop is about the people and belongs in the streets. He urged hip-hoppers to take the music “back to the streets,” because it’s being “held in bondage.” How to do this? “Throw a party in the streets for free. Hire the Nation of Islam to protect it.” Nas also slammed the Jigga and other mainstream artists like NORE and Cam’ron for being misogynistic and rapping about issues irrelevant to the community who supports them. This diatribe is exciting because it could be the beginning of a positive change in hip-hop, and shocking because the words are coming from a mainstream rapper on a corporate radio station and whose songs may never be played on the dominant Hot 97 again.

Of course it could just be another publicity stunt to draw attention to all parties involved and potentially sell records to hip-hop fans like myself who have become disgusted with mainstream hip-hop. Did Nas really eliminate himself from Hot 97 airplay? And what will Jay-Z’s retaliation be? Sources on the street reported Jay-Z was heard mumbling some epithets that rhymed with “izzle” and “eezie.”

Meanwhile, Power 105 owners will continue to buy stations, homogenize content, tell us what we can and can’t listen to in a time of crisis, and basically keep good music off the air. Presumably they will also fail to report exciting research findings about anti-depressant bodily fluids in favor of rich superstars disgusting sex lives and misogynistic songs.

So lets do something about this. I’m not talking about unprotected sex either. I’m talking about taking our music back. I’m not sure there’s a Nation of Islam chapter in Portland, but hey, a party in streets would be great! Maybe one of Stumptown’s twenty-five Vespa “clubs” could do security. Maybe Nas will come play and we could pass out free Jimmy Hatz.

All loaded scientific content aside, music fans in the Northwest should take hip-hop and other music back into their own hands. Let’s put on a safe show in streets or a friendly neighborhood venue. Let’s boycott commercial radio, and support community and college radio. Hell, just go start your own pirate stations. Support independent labels and artists and let’s make like Nas and question the messages that mainstream music represent! Three cheers for science and hip-hop!

Miles’ world of music column’s mostly music picks.

So if you’re not safely performing semen experiments of your own or checking out the texture and durability of the new Jimmy Hatz rubbers, the place to be in the city is the Blackbird.

The Blackbird is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a bunch of good free shows. This Friday, July 5, is local Audio Dregs artist Supersprite’s CD release party with Inkblot, Nice Nice and Plates of Hydra. These groups push boundaries and use electronics, unique arrangements and textures while keeping some of the irresistible elements of pop around for good measure.

Changing pace on Saturday will be the heavy instrumental onslaught of mathematical compositions from Last of the Juanitas, the amazing songs of 31 Knots and The Planet The. Sunday brings the avant craziness of Rollerball and Monday will be the final free anniversary show featuring sub-pop recording artists Hot Hot Heat.

Ready and waiting for your report on events, gossip or new semen research results: [email protected].