Have you seen those Sprite commercials "featuring real people kickin' it on the street"? The MCs are actually pretty talented, showing just how far hip hop's traveled from its origins in black culture. Not only is freestyling hip in the mainstream, but it's also well known enough that it's neither off-putting nor foreign to upper-class white people. Rap, and hip hop, is aging, and giving birth to lots of new babies.

Portland's got our own spawn: the Buttery Lords. They're a far cry from a corporate commercial, but one that's just as distant from the Sugarhill Gang. The Buttery Lords are three white rappers, one drummer, and one bassist, who rap and play pretty much balls-out all the time--a kind of rap-derived, butt rock-influenced conglomeration of humor and real talent. (Drummer Tony--aka Voltron's Bootie--admits that his only real influence is Kiss.)

This makes Buttery Lords kind of like performance art, but they're quick to clarify that they're not making fun of anyone. "If Puff was playing here, we'd be opening for him in a second," says MC Hub. "There's a big difference between parody and irony. Parody is, I think, ridicule. We're not ridiculing; we're aware that what we're doing is kind of ridiculous. We're just very self-conscious."

Hub's right. Though they really are hilarious, it's imperative that a group of rappers with names like Baby Powder Fresh, Dr. Marble, and PBR#1 have something more solid to their act if it's going to be longer than one song. "People don't just sit back and say, 'Isn't that funny, isn't that cute.' I mean, people actually dance and look at it as a serious performance. We're not all like 'wink wink' on stage. We're really in this," says Dr. Marble.

At their best, the Buttery Lords are about "gettin sweaty," as Baby Powder Fresh puts it, without any pretense. "I think there's a lot of punk energy that we bring to rap," says Hub. "It's not like we have cutting-edge mic skills, and it would be ridiculous for us to pretend that we're, like, Snoop or someone." PBR #1, the bassist, adds that "being punk isn't about a certain kind of music. It's about not being scared to be on stage and try something new and put all your energy into it. For example, Patsy Cline was totally punk. I think that's what we're trying for."

See the freestyling Sprite commercial at

www.sprite.com.