In response, David Parks, the Reparations' drummer, decided to do something about hiphop's reputation with city and state officials. Like many DJs and hosts of hiphop shows, he believes that the music's perceived reputation for violence has allowed OLCC agents to deny liquor licenses for shows and club owners to shy away from hosting hiphop events.
To remedy this maligned reputation, Parks has organized an unprecedented forum this Sunday at Portland State University (5 pm at Smith Memorial, rm. 236). Business owners, police officers, musicians, the OLCC, and city administration have been invited as well as the general public. The eventual result, hopes Parks, will be a working relationship that will allow for more public access to hiphop and other types of mainstream black music.
The lack of hiphop in Portland has been a conspicuous and embarrassing issue. Even as the music's popularity continues to explode and fans diversify, venues like the B Complex and now-defunct Rockafella's have faced denial of OLCC permits based in part on the suspicion that the music would spark misconduct. Recently, Jezebel's, one of Portland's only clubs regularly featuring hiphop, abruptly changed its format; some cite problems with the OLCC as the cause.
"It's almost unlawful for a group of blacks to get together," says Parks. "If Portland's going to become a 'millennial city,' we have to start finding ways for people to brush up against each other. The nightclubs are the one place where all those factions are going to mingle."
Parks notes that the agencies he has invited have been receptive.