UPDATE: Spoken with the P&L President and Jeff’s manager. Here’s a link to a new letter to the P&L President about rectifying the problems mentioned in this letter: Power & Light District President Jon Stephens.
“HOW DID THEY KICK ME OFF STAGE IN KANSAS CITY FOR PLAYIN HIP HOP…I’M A 25YR LEGEND…THIS IS SOME BULLSHIT.” ~ from DJ Jazzy Jeff’s Twitter this Sunday morning (@djjazzyjeff215)
Dear DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Power & White District, Cordish Co. & The Idiots Who Run KC Live:
I must start this letter by first apologizing to DJ Jazzy Jeff. You apologized to us, but you owe us nothing. Kansas City should have and would have shown you better on Saturday night. You said you had something special planned for us. Trust, we had every intention of soaking up each moment.
It’s just too bad the clowns who run KC Live and The Power & White District decided to suit up as Uncle Phillip Banks Bozo and friends last night, and boot you out of his house off the stage. They shut you down for playing hip hop 30 minutes into your set. When you first left the stage, I thought it was a joke — until I saw the laptop and turntables leave as well. Then it hit us: You were done and chucking Kansas City the deuces.
No, they didn’t ask you to stop playing hip hop because the crowd was rowdy. It wasn’t. The melting pot-like crowd was having a great time.
I’ve asked it and heard it asked 100 times in the past several hours: Why would you bring a hip hop DJ legend of 25 years to Kansas City and ask himto stop playing hip hop?
(Seriously, the man won the first Hip Hop Grammy.)
That’s like telling Jay-Z he has to sing The Beatles’ White Album 30 minutes into his set or else … If you gave Jay a vocoder, I’m sure he could do it. But we clearly know that’s not about to happen now, don’t we?
There are some who might try to refute what happened. But last night was just a microcosm of the foolishness that’s been going on since Kansas City’s Power & White District first opened. The dress code issues and how it covertly discriminates against some blacks has been played out in the media and city council meetings like a “Just A Friend” cassette tape from 1989 (best song of your 30-minute set, Jeff. SMH).
Now, I’m not one to play the race card (see: Letters No. 23 and 53). But this Sunday morning I’m about to make a substantial debit: The Power & White District & The Cordish Co. do not want black people in their establishments. The companies do not want hip hop music — an original and popular form of American entertainment — to be played in KC Live … the same area they hired DJ Jazzy Jeff to deejay in for the night.
The entertainment district has a dueling piano bar, an Italian wine lounge, two Irish pubs, an upscale bowling alley, a posh Las Vegas-wannabe techno lounge, a place called Rock Bar and a Mexican cantina among other things within the KC Live block.
But there is no hip hop club. There is no jazz or blues lounge. Kansas City is the home of the American Jazz Museum. And, as mentioned above, the dress code is set up to keep blacks out. An article in the dress code clearly states: “No jerseys.” But I personally — on at least three occasions — have seen non-blacks walking around the aforementioned establishments in their favorite team’s gear (and I’m not talking about on game days, either).
Here’s the kicker: This Power & White District was funded by Kansas City taxpayer money. Over 30 percent of Kansas City’s population is black. The Cordish Co. built an entire entertainment district on the citizens’ money, but it doesn’t want to entertain the majority of black citizens at all?
A squirrel could read between these shady lines.
No worries, though. By kicking DJ Jazzy Jeff off the stage for playing hip hop, the Power & Light District & Cordish Co. just refueled its own public relations nightmare. (Google: Cordish, racism and/or Louisville, Baltimore or Kansas City for starters). Yes, it’s happened before in other cities with the same company. But not like this.
Hip Hop & Black America will wake up today and laugh at Kansas City. And we — the young black professionals and the KC hip hop heads — are hanging our heads, embarrassed by the Power & Light, The Cordish Co. and KC Live.
I pray that word of this ignorance spreads throughout this country much like the Swine Flu in Mexico. I hope that Cordish is forced to see itself for what it is: a company that doesn’t care to cater to black people in America, and we have a black president. Make that make sense. Someone, please.
Bringing Jeff Townes to KC to deejay a free set, letting him spin for 30 minutes and then kicking him out for playing hip hop is like asking him to jump off a bridge while the entire world watches. He wouldn’t do it. Jeff packed up his turntables, laptop and other belongings … and left.
Who can blame him?
Once my 20 or so friends and I found out what happened, we followed him out. A crowd — which included B-boys, educated blacks (some of whom were in the District for the first time ever because DJ Jazzy Jeff was spinning), whites, Hispanics and every other race & ethnicity — that brimmed at capacity, dwindled and dispersed.
Can you blame us?
No, we blame you — the Cordish Co., The Power & White and the idiots who run KC Live. Your company and its establishments lost in a major way last night. You already paid Townes, you lost most of your clientele for the evening and have lifelong Kansas Citians swearing off your establishments forever. As one of my good friends — another lifelong Kansas Citian — told a valet as we left, “my money’s no good here.”
Now, boycotting may not be the answer. I mean, that’s what you want — black people to stay away from your establishments. Then again, it might be the answer. Seriously, why would I go where I’m not wanted? Hmm? Maybe because we helped pay for the place to be built with our tax dollars. This is black life in America. Four hundred-plus years in, and in some places, separate but equal still abides.
I’m proud of where I’m from and love my city. But today is the first day of my 28-plus years that I can truly say that I’m embarrassed for Kansas City.
Again, we apologize Jeff. I guess the Power & White just don’t understand.
Damon, Monica, Kansas City Hip Hop & the Upwardly Mobile Young Blacks of KC
P.S. The one song I wanted to hear Jeff spin: DJ Jazzy Jeff & J-Live’s “Practice.”
P.P.S. Please, share this ignorance on Facebook by clicking this link … or feel free to e-mail it along to anyone who should be in the know on this.
Note: If you were there, feel free to add your story from this debacle to the comments. I’m sending this letter and all of the comments to The Cordish Co., The Power & Light District, the idiots who run KC Live and DJ Jazzy Jeff on Tuesday morning.