Say what you like about Mr Jeffery Eugene Mills – and Ears To The House most certainly does – but he must be a pretty persuasive kind of character. Two years ago, Mills played at MDL Beast Soundstorm festival, a propaganda event put on by the human rights abusing Saudi Arabian government. He was paid handsomely, receiving $100,000 for his time.
Now, his fans weren’t exactly happy when they found out he was on the lineup, and Mills felt the need to explain himself. Taking to Facebook, he proclaimed that someone listening to his music might be inspired to take political action – showing not only a total lack of awareness of the Saudi Arabia situation, but that most of his recent music is about as inspiring as a colonoscopy.
Nonetheless, Mills’ money spinning ventures – which also include DJing at the Pyramids of Giza for another colossal fee – must have given his friend Derrick May some ideas. Because Ears To The House can reveal that May’s next big gig, due to take place at the end of the summer, is in none other than… Uzbekistan.
Anyone who reads the coverage of Stihia from the useless dance music press – such as this gushing report in DJ Mag published last year – would be half forgiven for thinking that Uzbekistan was this wonderful meritocracy, where the people are free and dance merrily in the desert. Indeed, amongst the few gripes of writer Claire Francis is “the drug laws are among the strictest in the region”.
Of course, it doesn’t take much digging to find the fuller story. In November 2007, Human Rights Watch reported that the country’s authorities routinely used beatings, electric shocks, asphyxiation, and even sexual humiliation to extract information and confessions out of prisoners. Uzbekistan also engaged in a policy of forced sterilizations and IUD insertions in order to control population numbers for many years.
Possibly most famous of all, however, was the method Uzbekistan used to kill two prisoners – Muzafar Avazov and Husnidin Alimov – in the summer of 2002. Human Rights Watch reported at the time that “Avazov’s deceased body “showed signs of burns on the legs, buttocks, lower back and arms. 60 to 70% of the body was burnt, according to official sources. Doctors who saw the body reported that such burns could only have been caused by immersing Avazov in boiling water.”.
To be fair to the landlocked Asian nation, Uzbekistan has had a new regime since 2016 and is trying to reform itself – and perhaps this is the forlorn hope Jeffery Eugene Mills has for Saudi Arabia. But what link does Derrick May have to the country? It appears he has none – Ears To The House cannot, despite a number of enquiries, find any instance of May playing in the country in the past.
So why is he doing this? A source in Detroit who knows the man himself says “It’s all about the money, nothing else. Derrick’s been struggling financially for a while, and this is a good payday. Also, Hagi [Craig, his manager] is starting to demand results now. She hasn’t become as successful as she has without demanding her DJs put the work in. It looks to me like a dollar store MDL Beast. I suppose it’s the only work Derrick can get these days.”.
Another of our regular Detroit sources mentions the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Uzbekistan – just like in Saudi Arabia. He wryly notes that “it’s very strange that all these men like Derrick May are happy to align themselves with homophobic regimes for money. Still, this must be what happens when you get accused of sexual assault by a double-digit number of women. When not even the Saudis will have him, it tells you how far your star has fallen.”.