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If You Don’t Want ME, Don’t Book ME (A Jazzy Jeff Story)

artistic integrity lessons

If You Don’t Want ME, Don’t Book ME (A Jazzy Jeff Story)

Jazzy Jeff and his tour made a stop at Kansas City to play the Power & Light District for an outside event. 

The crowd was rocking. Jeff was doing his (normal) eclectic set. Soul, pop, rock, his own classics - and yes, plenty of rap. 

His road manager walked over to his setup and put a towel down. 

No big deal. 

Then he came back and put a water bottle. 


Then he came back again and directly gave him the “We need to talk” look. 

Mid-set, the tour manager whispers, “They’re about to cut you off because they think you’re playing too much hip-hop, so I’m letting you know so you can decide what you want to do.” 

Jeff presses stop on a Rihanna song. 

He gets the mic and announces to the crowd that he’s very sorry, but the venue promoter thinks he’s playing the wrong stuff and will cut him off, so he’ll do it for them. 

Plans were scrambled, his manager got him out of town on a changed flight. 

Jeff tweeted, “Right party, wrong place” later that night. 

There was a media mess in its wake. 

On one hand, you had a problematic property owner and promoter claiming the music was too loud. 

On the other hand, you had an undeniably racist undertone.

Did they actually know the artist they booked? 

I’ve got no insight on the people who put the show on or threatened to cut Jazzy Jeff off. 

I have this insight, from his Questlove Supreme interview when he told the story, about not compromising your art, 

If you don’t want ME, don’t book ME. 

It’s YOUR thang, do what you wanna do. 

Artistic integrity matters, especially when it’s doing no harm, which I am completely confident Jeff was not doing. 

Find BOTH of Jazzy Jeff’s appearances on Questlove Supreme for some of the greatest music history lessons ever here. With extra Philly in it. I may be biased.

And if you’ve never heard a Jazzy Jeff set and want to know what it’s like, try this Boiler Room episode out (my wife and I have played this multiple times, it’s so good):

ps. Did you ever hear Jeff’s first breakout tournament win? Read and listen to this. It’s still BRILLIANT.