DJ Jazzy Jeff Forced Off Stage in Kansas City
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.”
Jazzy Jeff, who is arguably the world’s best party DJ, 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.”
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.