Backlash continues to rise surrounding DJ Jazzy Jeff's sudden dismissal in the middle of his DJ set last night at Power & Light. Barely 12 hours out, and it's all over the blogosphere. Lots of people, including prominent local hip-hop scenesters, feel that it was clear-cut case of P&L's bias against hip-hop music and those who follow it (by extension: black people).
To get the establishment's side of the story, I spoke just now, via e-mail and phone, with Kansas City Power & Light District President Jon D. Stephens. His explanation: "It was entirely an issue of audio and sound."
He continues: "The artist-provided sound techs were pushing the decibel level past maximum and it risked damage to the system. He was asked repeatedly to adjust. Finally, citing artist control they stopped playing and refused to resume performance."
Stephens says that DJ Jazzy Jeff's management and sound engineer were given clear information regarding what the sound system's limitations were and that during Jazzy Jeff's set, the decibel levels were at risk of blowing the system.
Regarding DJ Jazzy Jeff's tweeted allegations that it was his choice to spin hip-hop that got him shut down, Stephens responds, "It's unfortunate that he or his manager are taking that approach. It was clearly explained to him what the rationale was. We were not concerned about DJ Jazzy Jeff himself but the sound and the audio level."
When asked what his district's attitude toward hip-hop is, Stephens talks about diversity.
"I think it's a testament to our desire to book diverse music by the fact that we booked DJ Jazzy Jeff on a Saturday night, which is the busiest night of the week in the district," he says.
"We were genuinely excited to have DJ Jazzy Jeff and his performers come in," he adds. "It was our desire to bring him as an act. It was unfortunate that his manager and sound engineers didn't comply to the norms of the system and risked blowing a very expensive sound system."
Stephens notes that last year, a rock band was asked to stop their set because they were about to blow the system.
If Stephens' claims are true, then it is indeed unfortunate for KCP&L that last night's incident had to involve a world-renowned hip-hop DJ and not, say, Eve 6.