Upon reading this story I was reminded how here in San Francisco some club owners were fearful of attracting ‘too Black a crowd’ .. The term the y used was ‘thug crowd’. What they had discovered was Black folks here out west weren’t into house music that much-(This was pre –Dedan for all my Bay Area folks) So DJs were instructed to keep the House music pumping whenever the ‘thuggy crowd showed up at the door. When folks would leave the DJ was free to switch back to Hip Hop. Sometimes club owners would push for new wave or some sort of dance rock.
In Oakland some club owners in Jack London Square found themselves pressured by the police department to not play any sort of Hip Hop or advertise with the local urban stations. To do so would run the risk of them losing their cabaret license. For a number of years the acts appearing on our station’s annual summer jam concert had to be approved by the police department. The police had a database and in one instance they initially denied us having Tribe Called Quest.
Still other venues were told not to play any local music or in places like the defunct San Jose Live actually had an official format that DJs were required to follow. The bottom line for all these places was simple, Hip Hop music was never the problem. It was Black people. As far as some of these owners were concerned too many and the quality of the club would go down. They said that women were being harassed, bar tenders intimidated and extra security needed.
Can’t say for certain what was the real behind story involving DJ Jazzy Jeff, but from experience it was often the police calling shots from behind the scenes.
We included this song from Sacramento poet Dahlak which best illustrates what all this is about..
DJ Jazzy Jeff Booted from Venue for Hip-Hop Selections
by Ismael AbduSalaam
DJ Jazzy Jeff received a professional insult last Saturday (June 6) in Kansas City when a venue cut short his set for playing Hip-Hop music.
The Power & Light District has been lightning rod of controversy in recent months due to accusations of racism from black constituents.
Critics allege the entertainment district deliberately shuns any Hip-Hop themed elements for fear of attracting gang activity and violence.
Jazzy Jeff and rapper Skillz arrived at the venue as part of the ongoing Bacardi B-Live Tour.
Thirty minutes into their set and in the middle of a NeYo song, officials advised the duo the set was being shut down.
“My road manager walked up to me and said they were having problems with the music I was playing. I played three more songs and he comes back. I knew something was wrong,” Jazzy Jeff explained to the Kansas City Star. “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 off stage. So I stopped.”
This was Jazzy Jeff’s first performance in Kansas City. For over 20 years, the acclaimed DJ has been highly sought after internationally for his legendary all-night party sets.
According to Jeff, he was instructed to play Top 40 hits, and was accommodating that request before officials ended the set.
“They said they didn’t like Skillz’ posture. They said he made gang-like signs and grabbed at his genitals,” Jeff stated. “I was playing Rihanna, she is Top 40. If they would have let my set play, they would have known I play everything. 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.”
Power & Light District President Joe Stephens completely denied Jeff’s recollection of the incident, stating the DJ was simply asked to lower the sound before continuing on.
“The issue that arose with the performance last night was completely about the sound levels,” Stephens told the Kansas City Star. “His audio tech was maxing out the sound system to a point that risked damage to the speakers and sound system. His sound techs and management refused to bring the decibel level down. They were told to bring it down or cease performance. They refused to go on… 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. We wanted him to play, that’s why we booked him.”
At press time, DJ Jazzy Jeff has stated he plans on returning to Kansas City soon to spin for disappointed fans.
I guess one can’t be surprised…censorship is a big thing. On other hand, it is a shock because some top 40 or dirty south hip hop or harder core hip hop songs play all the time on the radio because of the acceptance and commercialization of the hip hop business.
I would not be surprised that the Midwest’s version of hip hop is played mostly on certain stations.
I have taught in a predominately southern white school and the kids liked hardcore hip hop as much as honky-tonk country music songs.
I wonder what was the agreement in DJ Jazzy Jeff’s contract—did Joe Stephens violate the contract? I am sure that Jazzy would not sign to a contract that would limit his artistry.
Davey, I remember talking with you about this at MoAD. this thing happens way too much in the Bay Area event scene. Yesterday, The Cataracs got kicked off the stage at the Temescal Street Festival in Oakland because people objected to some of the profanity in their lyrics. They weren’t given a warning or anything, and the host announced publicly that they were not performing “due to profanity”, and added that “they came late and were very unprofessional”. You don’t say things like that to a crowd of people.
This is disgusting. And, boycotting does no good because it’s not a matter of clubs making these choices, police departments are involved in these policies to not play hip hop. What business do the police have telling clubs what kind of music they can or can’t play? If this isn’t a sign of a police state, what is? This is a constitutional issue that must be taken to the supreme court. Local police have way too much power. Obama’s likely going to get 3 supreme court nominations and it may be the only thing that saves us from local law enforcement agencies in America running their jurisdictions like gestapos.
^^^ like they’re already doing in Oakland, I forgot to add.
Kc is hella weak i would been on some gangstarr shit… I would of started more then freakin riot!
Jazzy Jeff rolled with Fresh Prince, and trust me there was nothing gangsta there. It’s not the music, its the crowd that the music has grown to attract (ignorant people – hurting our people). Back in the ’80’s, they were afraid of us too, but these past 24 years these guys have given America a reason. Like liability and insurance, ect. Police are just protecting the clubs and the neighborhoods based on history. Fair or un-fair, I don’t like in K.C.
sweet jesus, mary and joseph!! I guess inviting Public Enemy, dead prez or Paris would be COMPLETELY OUT OF THE FUCCN QUESTION!!!
the youtube joint hit it on the head…. one can’t question any more the FACT that the majority of buyers don’t look like me and mine…. much, MUCH lighter HUE!!!
The irony to the whole thing is…you should know what your DJ is going to spin when you book him. Jeff is a dope producer and international party rocker…he’s a legend. How can you not know what he’s going to play at your spot. If you book a DJ and not do your research on them , that’s your problem.
BTW – I’ve been a DJ in the Bay Area club for years. It’s not uncommon for club owners to get shady when they feel the club is getting to much “flava” in it. I’ve been told to switch it up if it got too “dark” in the spot a couple of times. Needless to say, the relationship with the owners did not last long after that.
I just listened to the Youtube piece – “I let you into my house, you come in and changed the name of my house and now you won’t let me back into my own house?” You all should have had your eyes open when the Bronx was selling out with Grand Wizard Theodore and them on that “Scratch 2002” or whatever movie. Herc, Bam, and Flash and them gave away the DJ scene a while back just for credit in “hip’hop” history. Now look what has happened. They snatched it away from us piece by piece through movie, radio, and magazine. But someone has the “truth”, the question is – Are we ready for it?
Robert, how much power should the police have? Should the constitution just be tossed out the window? Do you feel you don’t need the constitution? We’re not talking about a club choosing not to play hip hop. That would be their decision, and the only appropriate counter action would be to boycott the club. We’re talking bout the police telling clubs what kind of music they can play. What else should the police be telling us to do?
RF, I do not live in K.C., but where I do live, if there’s a club around the corner from my house and time after time there’s fights and people are getting shot, “I don’t want that club in my neighborhood, either”. I’m Black, which doesn’t make me an expert, but its common-sense that for whatever area this club is in, there’s not normally Black people in that area. Because if it was the police wouldn’t be on alert like this. I think this has more to do with insurance and safety issues rather than the constitution. We all have a right to party, but I don’t know the racial demographics to really make a call. I think I do remember seeing something on HBO about gangs perhaps being out that way. They probably take that stuff serious. I’m against “Helping Ignorant People – hurt our people” – call me biased – but the police are afraid and do not like dealing with black people no way, so they are just excercising the power feel to keep the peace. May be prejudiced, but I bet no one got hurt that night. And who’s going to contact the ACLU over a few gang bangers? What a warped world!
Robert, nice way to duck the question. We’re talking about police telling night clubs what type of music they can or can’t play. You’d better believe that’s a constitutional issue. How far do you think the police’s power should stretch? Should they tell you what kind of shoes to wear?
Honestly, RF there’s an ignorance on both sides of this coin, but as an adult I’ll go with the cops on the basis of safety. The club owners know their clientele and the store owners and people who live around the club have been trained to dial 9-1 as soon as they see someone who doesn’t look like their from their neighborhood. The cops jus cutting the chase. Get rid of the Black people, and we’ll have an easy night. Racist? Yeah, but historically the right thing to do at white clubs. Discouragement works. Jazzy Jeff knows the deal. He was hired to play for the white clientel, not all of the local homeboys from the hood. Racist? Yeah, but what you going to do? Rather see Jeff hired at more “safe” Black clubs, honestly. We are all wrong for stereotyping the Blacks that visit the clubs in K.C., but they knew they were going to be watched the minute the ink dried on the contract, why go there and act like you down. Play your sets, do what they say, make your money, and leave. Bottom line – don’t get caught up in local politics – do what you do – “entertain” Jeff wouldn’t ever make an issue of this. he’s looking for the next club, telling the people “Ya’ll gon’ mess it up for me!” . Truth hurts.
A thought just entered my mind. Its sad, but an African artist once said, “Black people are like chalk boards, they don’t have no meaning unless they have the stroke of the white chalk”. And why did that come to mind, because even as a teenager we always felt that we too had to go to the white neighborhoods to party or rollerskate, for some reason. As if our neighborhoods were not good enough. We were so brain-washed that we actually left our own neighborhoods and never came back and now there all boarded up. Just a sad thought how far we’ll travel to be accepted instead of appreciating and building our own. There’s a “Harlem Renesiance” going on right now, not in Harlem, of course, but the players just haven’t joined board, yet.
Robert, prove to me right now how the mere sound of hip hop causes violence. Go.
RF = Real Funny. Don’t make me have to take my belt off, son.
Didn’t think you had an answer, old loudmouth.
Hey Robert, i just heard a hip hop song, and didn’t have the urge to punch anybody. Oh, but that’s right. I’m not black. It only works on the black animal gene. It’s obvious you’re not black either, racist mother f****er.
“Brazen” – And these are the people who support “Hip-hop (Helping Ignorant People – Hurt Our People)’ “Black animal gene”? Wake up, Black people!
This story makes me sick as not only a white hip hop scratch dj of 13 years but also a human being. I have been told by owners its getting to dark in here after i have sold thier door out 18 weeks in a row. So what I do is put those racists on blast on the mic and take my fans with me to another club, weather it be the owners or the police put those fuckers on blast on the mic in front of all to see and their patrons will never go back and follow you to the next spot. Jazzy is a great guy as i would have had the police escort me out for all to see and then tell everyone why.
LET HIP HOP LIVE!!!! Fuck the Haters, they just mad cuz they got no swag