Hip-hop DJ Jazzy Jeff abruptly stops Kansas City show; venue and DJ dispute reason

By Sheila Ellis, Gaea News Network
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

DJ Jazzy Jeff abruptly stops Kansas City show

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hip-hop performer DJ Jazzy Jeff stormed off the stage during a weekend performance in Kansas City, saying venue managers did not like the type of music he was playing.

Officials with the Power & Light District say they just wanted the production crew to turn down the music because it was too loud for the sound system.

“His management was instructed on four occasions to turn the music down,” said Power & Light District president Jon Stephens. “The system was maxed out and it would have damaged the equipment.”

In Twitter entries, Jazzy Jeff said the staff at the KC Live! pavilion stopped his show after about half an hour Saturday night “for playin’ hip hop.”

The performer, whose real name is Jeff Townes, won a Grammy in 1988 with partner Will “Fresh Prince” Smith for the hit “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” He also had a recurring role as Smith’s best friend on the 1990s sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Concertgoers said Jazzy Jeff was playing hip-hop and pop songs before abruptly ending his set. Then rapper Skillz, who was serving as Jazzy Jeff’s hype man, yelled out, “They won’t let us play hip-hop, y’all.”

Representatives for Jazzy Jeff did not return calls from The Associated Press on Monday.

In a Kansas City Star column, Jazzy Jeff told the reporter that venue officials said his set “attracted the wrong kind of element.” He told the columnist that the “element” reference seemed to be directed at blacks. Baltimore-based Cordish Co., which operates the Power & Light District, received negative attention last year for its dress code banning hip-hop styles such as sagging pants and oversize jewelry.

Stephens says it’s not about race, and that the DJ’s hip-hop reputation was the reason he was invited. He says other acts at the pavilion have also been asked to turn their music down.

(This version CORRECTS 8th graf to show comment was made by Jazzy Jeff, rather than Jon Stephens.)

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