Kid (right) with Ruben (left) and LL Cool J (center).
***UPDATED WITH COMMENT FROM POWER VP NAT GALVIN BELOW***
Hip-hop radio employees slipping on KKK hoods to pay a visit to their rivals? As incredible as it sounds, that's the tale told by a lawsuit filed August 21 by 101.5 Jamz DJ Krazy Kid Stevens(aka, "Darin Damme") of the Kid and Ruben morning show against rival hip-hop station Power 98.3. Damme's lawyer has also asked for an injunction against harassment ordering Power 98.3 employees to steer clear of Kid at his home or place of business, which is sure to be difficult because the studios for Power 98.3 and 101.5 Jamz are apparently located in the same building.
According to the complaint, the harassment has included various incidents where either Kid's offices or events have been flyered with anti-Kid propaganda, like a picture of Kid hunting javelina with the words, "Hunting javelina is not Hip-Hop," or a CD with a confederate flag and the words "Hick Hop," which was supposedly handed out at an event where the rap star Chamillionaire was present.
But the weirdest incident allegedly occurred on August 13, and included a visit from some pseudo White Knights. The complaint reads:
"On or about 10 a.m., `Bootleg Kev' and an unknown accomplice believed to be an employee and/or agent of RBG and Power 98.3, appeared at the broadcast studios of 101.5 Jamz located at 4745 North 7th Street Ste 210 Phoenix, Arizona ("the Studio"), wearing white sheets over their heads to give the impression that they were members of the Klu Klux Klan ("KKK") and announced that they had a meeting with Damme."
The complaint alleges that these kooky Klansmen distributed a flyer of Kid with the dead javelina and the announcement:
KKK MEETING 8-13-07 @ 8:00 a.m. With a Speech from Acclaimed White Supremacist: KKKID STEVENS. Free Javelina Meal for the first 20 people to arrive!
In addition to the complaint, Krazy Kid's got "Kid Sharpton," aka the Rev. Jarrett Maupin involved, and Maupin has called a press conference for today at 1 p.m. at the Power studios (which, as stated, is in the same building as 101.5 Jamz). Maupin and Al Sharpton's National Action Network, of which Maupin is the local head, are denouncing Power, supporting Kid, and insisting the FCC take action.
"Exhibit A" in the Kid complaint is an e-mail allegedly from Power program director Bruce St. James, aka Bruce Dalton, which reads like a declaration of war against 101.5 Jamz, the new hip-hop kid on the block, which recently changed its format and hired Kid and Ruben as its morning show. 101.5 Jamz has a much clearer signal than Power. That's the source of some chagrin in the e-mail, which reads,
"This doesn't mean we won't raise up and bitch-slap them from time to time. Most of what we do will be off-air and behind the scenes to make their lives hell. We didn't ask for this fight, but we are perfectly willing to whip some ass when challenged."
The memo lambastes Kid as an ofay, stating, "Nothing screams Hip-Hop like a 42-year-old white guy who hunts javelina on the weekend and owns a fishing boat." (According to court docs, Kid is actually 35.) The irony is, of course, that Bruce St. James is a white 30-something dood who enjoys "racing sprint cars at Manzanita Speedway on the weekends." This, from a profile of St. James done by former New Times music scribe Brendan Joel Kelley titled "The Conservative Rap" (October 28, 2004) wherein Kelley discusses St. James' side-career at that time as an ultra-right-wing talk show personality for KTAR (then, only on the AM dial). Kelley describes St. James as a "total apologist for the Bush administration." At the same time St. James was doing his Rush Limbaugh shtick, he was the program director for Power 92.3 FM, now Power 98.3 FM.
(BTW, I have a call into St. James for comment, but he has yet to respond.)
To confuse you further, 92.3 FM is currently the home of KTAR news/talk radio, and Krazy Kid had been working for KTAR as a talk jock full time up until signing on with 101.5 Jamz. He's still doing some fill-in work off and on for KTAR, I believe. His call-in show's been mildly conservative, somewhere between far-rightist Darrell Ankarlo and middle-of-the-roader Pat McMahon. Probably closer to McMahon than Ankarlo.
St. James' e-mail also makes reference to Kid being let go by 104.7 KISS FM shortly after somewhat controversial comments he made about those hit by Hurricane Katrina. To be honest, I've never heard those comments first-hand, but I do remember them being criticized by MG's Morning Madhouse, which was then the morning show at Power 92.3 before it was replaced by Da Nutz, and before Power moved down the dial to 98.3.
Obviously, if blackness were a criterion for being involved in PHX hip-hop, whether on the radio or elsewhere, a lot of people would have to be excluded from the local game. Da Nutz, for instance, definitely have a Latin thing going on. So as far as people jockeying for authenticity or real-ness, that seems a little silly. I mean is it "real" to be dressing up like Klansmen and paying a visit to the competition, if that's what happened?
Even if this all went down exactly as said, I'm not sure what, if anything, should be done. The whole Klan escapade, as described, seems over the line, like a punk-prank gone bad. And whoever orchestrated it has some apologizing to do (once again, assuming all happened as the suit alleges). Those pointing the finger at crackers in the woodpile best ease up as well. 'Cause that's certainly a case of the pot calling the kettle white.
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***RESPONSE FROM POWER 98.3 FM VP NAT GALVIN***
"This claim is completely unfounded and without merit, we look forward to a quick, favorable resolution. In the meantime, we will not let this frivolous action and attempt to gain free publicity distract us from continuing to provide our listeners with the Valley's best and most authentic Hip and Hop music and entertainment."
"Hip and Hop"? You guessed it, he's a white guy...At least he didn't call it "hippity-hop."