Sugarhill on Acid 

Clan of the Cave Mack is Trippin'

Occasionally in the Mercury music department, we receive press releases that read something like, "This band has the power of Janis Joplin, the melody of the Grateful Dead, the perversion of Michael Jackson, and the breasts of Courtney Love--all on acid!" This is a sure-fire sign that the band is going to be awful, as weary and horrific as a genetic experiment gone awry.

However, in the world of DJs, this paradigm is turned inside out. Since all spinning and scratching literally recreates pre-recorded music, a DJ's creativity and newness is measured in how well they blend different types of music into one style--the more types they can successfully put together, the better.

That's why you should be impressed with the Clan of the Cave Mack. A four-part crew, you'll find at least one member of Cave Mack (usually Venom 3) spinning Fridays at the Tiger Bar. "Each one of us brings something different to the table," says Mack Rice. "We represent pretty broad skills of music--we do everything, really. Mostly electronic, downtempo music, some independent hip hop, some house, some reggae."

Last Friday, I listened to Venom 3 play for a steady three hours. He seamlessly blended Bjork and Digital Underground with a lot of underground hip hop, yielding a quippy sound that catches enough consistent melody--backed up with a beat that's light and fun and urgent--that there's no way to put this music in the background.

Like most brilliant artists, the Clan makes it look easy. But the tips of DJ Nikfury's fingers are rounded and flattened from years of gripping records in the basement of the Clan's Northeast Portland house. ("Pretty much the only rule is that no one plays from the hours of three to five am," explains DJ Astroglide.) It's here that the Clan builds their own beats, and mixes new musical cocktails. Describing the Clan is the only time it might be appropriate--even compelling--to argue that this crew "is the Sugarhill Gang on '90s acid."

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