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June 8, 2009

Kansas City's Power & Light District kicks DJ Jazzy Jeff off stage

dj jazzy jeffAcclaimed DJ/producer/performer DJ Jazzy Jeff (pictured) was kicked off stage less than 30 minutes into his Saturday night performance at the Power & Light District in Kansas City due to a dispute over his music.

Jeff said Power & Light management cut his set short because he was playing hip-hop, according to this piece by Jenee Osterheldt of the Kansas City Star.

In the article, Power & Light officials said they pulled the plug on Jeff's set because the volume level threatened to blow out their speakers and Jeff's people refused to turn it down.

Power & Light is owned by the Cordish Company, which also owns Power Plant Live. In the past year or so, Power & Light has caused quite a stir among Kansas City's African-American community, who accuse the entertainment zone of having racist policies.

True or not, this little scandal is only going to make that perception worse ...

This one quote in Osterheldt's piece really made me cringe:

"My road manager walked up to me and said they were having problems with the music I was playing," Jazzy Jeff told me. "I played three more songs and he comes back. I knew something was wrong. They said I had to kick [MC] 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."

That's insane!

Together, Jeff and Will Smith won the first Grammy award for hip-hop. I can't believe Power & Light officials would book him there and then kick him off stage for playing hip-hop. But I don't buy the volume excuse either. I seriously doubt that Jeff was playing too loud.

Towards the end of Osterheldt's piece, she writers that venue officials (who aren't named) say Jeff's set attracted "the wrong element."

The wrong element, eh?


(Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:34 AM | | Comments (25)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I can't believe he stopped. Getting hauled off the stage by 30 cops would do wonders for his street cred. Imagine him in jail. "What you in for?" "Playing hip hop in a club where they paid me to DJ." Unbelievable!

There has got to be more to this story.

I have a feeling its another case of the Media blowing something out of proportion and not reporting all the facts.

But I may be worng.

The article is pretty right on! I was there, and it was by far the most blatant form of racism I have seen in my life. Jefff was the only black performer that night, playing with a white HIP-HOP dj (who had no problems during his set) and a white duo playing a live techno show (no problems there either). I believe it was more about the style, not the sound. P&L officials always have a good excuse and have been known for racist actions since they opened. I will never, ever go back to Power & Light district in KC or any other city. You just don't treat people like that!

Yeah, sounds about right for KC Power & Light. They try really hard to keep the hip hop stuff out. In their defense at least they don't have shootings outside their bars like one of the other blocks in Kansas City that has a hip hop club. That are is now trying to cut down on the hip hop as well.

I live in KC, the power and light is fun, and we paid for it as taxpayers and this crazy company is keeping the place so bubblegum that they won't let an artist do his thing. Note though everyone was indeed having a good time (I was there), don't blame it on KC, this is Cordish Company, we have a great town.

Hell yeah everyone was having a great time! And since when is T.I., Rhianna and Kanye not Top 40 music? The vibe was amazing in that place until they kicked him off and started playing Bob Seger and John Couger very loudly!

This is getting out of control with The Cordish Company. It is obvious they are trying to keep African American from the KC Power & Light District.

It is going from Bad to Wors and I think it is time for the NAACP to get involved. They have to know we are not back in the "slavery" days.

I live here in KCMO and this is not a suprise to myself and others within our community. Also, I am more than sure that there's NO MORE to this story than what you are reading. The KCP&L District has done nothing but discriminate against the African American Community since the District's opening.

Who are all of these Missourian Midnight Sun commenters?

I don't think they are trying to keep African American's out. They may be trying to keep "hip hop" out. There is a huge difference. I personally find the grouping of all african americans as "hip hop" narrow minded and offensive. The reason businesses don't want the hip hop crowd is because it draws crime. When's the last time a pop artist was gunned down in gang or drug related activity? It's not about race its about a culture that promotes violence and illicit behavior.

It's true I live in KC and I've stopped going they are truly racist!!! If your shorts touch your knee or shirt is too long meaning covering your beltline you are labeled a gangsta if you are black. I sat there while white guys wearing super baggy clothing are high fiving the staff!! The last straw I saw a staff of a club there fire a white girl because me and her are just talking. Whooo done with them!!!

so now you just "report" innuendo and rumor. so very lame. pathetic


it's so sad that there's so many racists in America today... how anyone could equate Jazzy Jeff -- an accomplished musician, producer and comic actor (remember Jazz from Fresh Prince, that's him!) -- with guns and drugs and gangs is the worst sort of gutter innuendo that makes me so very angry and wanting to do something about it.

If people seriously think that Jazzy Jeff brings in a "bad element" then it is time to free the prisoners held unjustly all across America. I'm tired of racist white people and their "race card"

More like a house of cards tumbling into the sea....

You guys talk about shorts touching the knee means you're out of Dresscode. I am saying in Baltimore, if Black touches your skin, you are NOT allowed in Power Plant Live!

As a lifelong DJ, promoter, and sound engineer my first question is one that hasn't seem to have been asked. Why would a large venue allow many different sound engineers to run their mixing and live sound systems. Large bands and acts take the same engineer and mixing system with them everywhere they go as they know the system. A facility as large as this should certainly have their own main mixing engineer running sound which would fully control the sound levels. I have been a part of over 150 shows in the past year and can't think of 1 time where a "DJ" was allowed to control the main live PA system. That just doesn't happen in Vegas nightclubs, Big Music festivals (Poolaza, DEMF, Summerfest, etc) and I am shocked that it is happening at KC LIVE.

Step 1. KC LIVE needs to get a sound engineer to run their music systems and if you are having a DJ come in, please update your limiters and compressors. Please use at least 1 brain cell.

As far as the commentary, and details. I haven't been to KC Live but I have been to clubs that said word for word exactly what I am reading.. (Hell entire clubs shut down for a month where I am at just to end hip hop music) Only to realize that big crowds = some form of drunkery and violence regardless of the music. As far as the dress code goes, I have DJ'd in large upscale high end establishments and rocked the best hip hop music all night but still had a dress code (even for myself) I guess if there is an area of high crime they presume that a dress code will fix it. Who knows if this is right. I enjoy dress'ng up in a suit and tie when I go out and so does hip hop icons like Jay Z, and P-Diddy. Whats wrong with looking good? If all they asked for patrons to dress up is that half bad?

On to Jazzy himself. Who knows what really happened, but to blame the sound system on the "DJ" is implausible, impractical, and erroneous. The DJ should never ever ever ever ever be in charge of the entire PA system for an entire venue. That's like asking the lead singer of Creed to "run your own sound" mix the whole thing yourself. Huh? That doesn't happen so to blame this on the DJ is crazy. I've DJ'd in many venues where the sound system sucked, or the live sound engineers were awful, and many where I knew more than the engineers themselves, but never has there been a venue where the DJ has been 100% in charge of the PA. Typically the DJ goes into the main mixing system where "THE VENUES PEOPLE" control the final mix. If that's not how its setup at KC Live then that's how it should be immediately. I hung out and saw Z-Trips set 2 weeks ago and his set is every bit as loud as Jazzy's. The only difference is that Z-Trip plays more hip hop/rock mashups which might have gotten him through his set unscaved. But if KC Live didn't know what they were getting with Jazzy, blame it on the prommoooottaaeerrr.

P.S. to assume hip hop is 100% any race is incorrect, i'm just as offended about him being pulled as anyone else, white, black etc.. If I get booked to play what I play and then they tell me to change up my style, I'm gonna be mad. Period. Lets ask Alien Ant Farm to play Tenacious D in a few weeks or better yet, pull them off stage for playing michael jackson... Lets be real. Someone made an incorrect move now the whole world is watching.

I'm trying not to take sides on this issue yet because I don't know enough of the facts. However, this is a live recording of the concert. I don't know about permanent damage to the speakers, but something is obviously wrong with the sound here.

I've experienced the racisism several times with the dress code I'm turned away for shirt being too long while I watch two white guys with longer shirts give security high fives!!!
Blacks shoot boycott them period!!!

Lame is you defending racist!!
Power and light will be short lived with this type of treatment

They aren't racist. They were playing the music too loudly, and after asked to turn it down, they refused. So they shut down the set.

Big deal. Get over it.

I'm originally from KC and I know the area. It's upscale, designed for tourism. It's like the Inner Harbor. They do NOT want crap down there. They don't want stories like Baltimore's roving band of attacking teens. It's not racism they're practicing, it's anti anything that makes the area look bad to midwestern tourists. It's heavy handed and in the long term won't work but it's definitly not racism.

Yawn. A boycott, the NAACP, etc, will not affect the situation.

They may go through some ups and downs but they will survive. Look at the Power Plant Live!

"It is going from Bad to Wors and I think it is time for the NAACP to get involved. They have to know we are not back in the "slavery" days."

Yeah, right, If these were still the "slavery" days, this would be a non-issue. You wouldn't even consider ever getting into the place because you could expect to have the [crap] beaten out of you for trying.

Get real, there are certain aspects of Black culture that comes off as gutter class and even if it is only 5% of Black youth and young adults, they still are visible enough to ruin it for everyone else.

I'd bounce someone off stage for grabbing their crotch as part of the entertainment and challenge them for how loud the music was playing as well.

Shame on the owners and managers of the businesses in P&L for wanting to protect their investments. I can't see why they wouldn't want P&L turning into Bannister Mall and Westport. Criminals have rights too and deserve a place where they are free to congregate and perpetrate their crimes. In addition, these type of people usually spend a lot of money in the establishments they frequent and are loyal, respectful customers. The fact that P&L isn't hosting hip-hop nights every weekend just screams of racism.

Since when did hip hop become exclusively black? I live in a rural town of 2000 north of KC and hip hop is large here and I'd say we only have about a 1% black population and we don't see color as an issue - racism isn't an issue in our town nearly as much as the socioeconomic class you're in.

Having said that, the Power and Light District has a problem with crime. Violence is on the rise and even the "security" can't seem to control anything when fights break out. When you get a bunch of people (of any skin color) in a group and let them walk around with alcohol, a fight will break out somewhere. Date rape also seems to be an issue.

I believe that the District wants to maintain a fun, upscale atmosphere where people can hang out, knowing they are safe. Unfortunately, the rules they use to try to establish a safer atmosphere have backfired: the dress code and music issues are supposed to be deterrents, but they haven't gone over in the spirit in which they were intended.

It isn't a race issue and I get sick of everyone throwing that out there. Kansas City was named one of the nation's friendliest cities a few years back. We typically get along with anyone regardless of taste in music and have promoted all kinds of music within our metropolitan area - do any of you remember the influential jazz musicians from around here - I guess those were a bunch of white people with smokin saxophones, eh?

Get real, get over it, and provide some positive suggestions for how situations like these can be handled without always resorting to dividing out citizenry based on race. I love you all, but you are driving me crazy with this!

Bottom line: if it was a race thing and you think hip hop is a race thing, too... why on earth would they have paid to bring Jazzy Jeff to this event if they wanted to keep out any specific race? Think about it... there has to be some fact we haven't uncovered for this to have happened. If it was a volume thing, I agree with the "lifelong DJ, promoter, and sound engineer" that KC Live needs to have their own sound engineer to do some volume leveling they are comfortable with so future artists won't have to go through this.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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