Jazzy’s Hasty KC Day
OK, here’s the situation: DJ Jazzy Jeff plays the Kansas City Live! concert series and is shut down because he’s spinning hip-hop tunes. Except that, according to organizers, the Fresh Prince partner was pulled off stage because he was blowing out the speakers.
Jazzy Jeff, known to some as the musical partner of the young Will Smith and to others as the inventor of “transforming” – the now ubiquitous DJ technique of “scratching” with turntables – claims he was booted from the KC event June 6 because of his music.
“My road manager walked up to me and said they were having problems with the music I was playing,” Jazzy Jeff told the Kansas City Star. “I played three more songs and he comes back. I knew something was wrong. They said I had to kick Skillz [Jeff’s hype man] 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 quit.”
About 30 minutes into the set, Skillz told the crowd, “They won’t let us play hip-hop ya’ll” and the crowd booed. Jazzy Jeff said he has never experienced anything like it in 25 years, and noted he was playing Top 40 tunes like one from Rihanna when the plug was pulled.
The area where KC Live! is held, the Power & Light District, is under public scrutiny for perceived insensitivity to the black community, according to Star reporter Jenee Osterheldt.
Officials with the Power & Light District refuted the accusations, saying they invited the DJ because of his hip-hop reputation and that he’s set to play another facility affiliated with KC Live.
At stake was the sound system. Jazzy Jeff’s production crew was behind the knobs, rather than the one usually assigned by KC Live, and the system was redlining.
“DJ Jazzy Jeff was on stage and his management was instructed on four occasions to turn the music down,” Power & Light District President Jon Stephens said. “The system was maxed out and it would have damaged the equipment. … The monitor was in the red zone.”
According to officials, nine of the 12 high-end drivers of the sound system were permanently damaged by the “square” sound wave, and they pointed out that rock ’n’ roll band Lights & Siren was once yanked from the stage because of a similar situation.
“To characterize this incident in racial terms is absurd and illogical,” officials said in the statement. “We scheduled Jazzy Jeff proudly, knowing exactly his repertoire of music.”
“At no point during Jazzy Jeff’s very brief set was he or his road manager told that there were any technical or sound problems,” the DJ said in a statement. His management,
Deckstar, reiterated it had good relations with KC Live and suggested the situation could be isolated to the staff on hand that evening.