Monday, June 15, 2009

DJ Jazzy Jeff Forced Off Stage in Kansas City Racist District

Jazzy Jeff forced off stage by the Kansas City Racist District, oops I mean "Entertainment District".

Legendary party-rocker DJ Jazzy Jeff was kicked off stage during a Kansas City stop on the Bacardi B-Live tour on June 6, due to a racist establishment, the Kansas City Star alleges. According to the paper, "The black community has been in arms about perceived racism at the entertainment district, a place their tax money helped fund." The Jazzy Jeff incident clearly does not help matters for the city.

Apparently, Jeff was instructed by a Power & Light (entertainment) district official to play Top 40 hits. He was several songs into a set of pop records that included songs by Jay-Z, Rihanna and Biz Markie, when his performance was cut short due to an issue with the style of music he was spinning. "My road manager walked up to me and said they were having problems with the music I was playing," Jeff told the paper. "They said I had to kick Skillz off the stage, change the format of the music I was playing or quit. They said if I continued playing they had 30 cops ready to come escort me offstage. So I stopped."

Venues should understand that when they hire a specific national DJ for a venue that they are hiring that DJ for their particular style and crowd draw, you hire the DJ for how he or she plays not to tell them what to play. As a venue you can tell local DJs to play this way or that way, knowing that if they don't you can always get another one, but even then the DJ should be able to decide if or when to break format for a few songs etc... but when it's a national act you have hired the DJ to perform what they are known for or what they deem approriate to perform.

Jazzy Jeff, who is arguably one of the world's best party DJs, though he's best known for his affiliation with the Fresh Prince, now known as Will Smith, and for inventing a seminal scratching technique called "transforming," collected the first hip hop Grammy award and spins close to 300 nights a year. This was his first time DJing in Kansas City.

Jon Stephens, an official from the Power & Light district, where the performance took place, contended that the issue was Jeff's volume rather than his selections. "Obviously we have a desire to book a diversity of acts," Stephens said. "We booked Jazzy Jeff on a Saturday night, the biggest night of the week in the district. We were excited to have him there. It's unfortunate that his sound and management people had problems adhering to the sound and audio rules."
This is highly unlikely since there are always sound production experts working the sound board at larger events like this, that ultimately control the overall sound system. If Jazzy Jeff kept raising the volume past the levels the sound man could always bring the overall sound down to the recommended levels until Jazzy jeff would not be able to raise the volume any higher due to him peaking out on his own sound mixer. So this is an obvious bogus statement made to hide the real issue for the whole incident... a racist view of music and a fear of losing a venue because of racially driven district policies.

Jeff says they explicitly took issue with music he played and complained about his hype man, Skillz, before threatening to forcibly escort him off stage."They said they didn't like Skillz' posture. They said he made gang-like signs and grabbed at his genitals," Jeff stated. "I play rock, funk, soul, pop, hip-hop, reggae. I don't play for a certain genre, race or gender. I play for music lovers... I didn't understand what element they were talking about. I looked out in the crowd and it was multicultural, but about 75 percent white. Everyone was having a great time. I wondered what was so offensive. I never had a race issue. I didn't know how to feel. I was playing [Biz Markie's] 'Just a Friend.' Is that offensive? What element? It's uncomfortable when you feel unwanted." Jeff stated that he intends to return to Kansas City to play for the fans who missed out on seeing him perform.

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