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..
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.