A veteran club DJ, Tootsie’s Cabaret’s DJ Platypus, offers his take on one of the most controversial artists of our time.
I have been a DJ at Tootsies Cabaret for over 20 years. We have always had an open music format due to our huge demographic and multi-cultural customer base. I met Kanye West 15 years ago at the original Tootsie’s. It was just after Jay Z’s “black album” was released and he was still an unknown artist. It was before Kim K., before Twitter and before his major status leap. He was wearing an all-white suit and hanging with a very undressed entourage. He was telling everyone that would listen that one day we would be playing his music all of the time.
Well, he was right about that. For the years to follow, Kanye West’s music was a staple for many DJ’s around the country. To this very day, I still play “Good Life” and “Gold Digger.” I haven’t been too fond of his new music the last couple of years. It’s a little too confusing and “message heavy” for a strip club; however, you cannot say he isn’t talented. He has produced a catalog of hits for over a decade. He has also collaborated with the top artists in the music industry and has been considered one of the best producers of hip hop in the last 10 years.
This past week, Kanye is in the news again. He has made his opinion known about slavery, an opinion which, to me, is complete and utter madness. His comments to TMZ turned into national headlines and now a movement has started. Radio stations in major markets have decided to boycott Kanye’s music by not playing it at all. Detroit’s 105.1 The Bounce morning show host was the first to come out and say “We are over it. We don’t want to hear Kanye’s music, we don’t want to play Kanye on our show, we don’t want to talk about Kanye anymore,” they said. “So we are taking a stand and we aren’t playing his music anymore; we just are refusing to give him a platform.” This was followed by other stations joining the boycott the following day. The hashtag #MuteKanye is also trending right now.
This brings me to my point. Should the strip club industry boycott Kanye West? He certainly isn’t the first artist to say or do something controversial. Now, I am not defending his comments. I will not defend his overall status as an attention-starved human being who has obviously lost his way and can’t seem to find relevance in the music industry. I will never be on the same wave length or planet as Kanye West. I will never agree with his comments and God forbid, if he ever runs for President, I will never vote for him.
But I am a DJ. It’s not my place to use my personal feelings about an artist and boycott his music. My job is to entertain the masses by any means necessary. If a song is relevant, has great energy and entertains our guests, then it is my job to play that song even if the artist is an asshole. Many years ago, Michael Jackson was all over the news and court rooms fighting public perception that he molested children. He dangled his own child outside a hotel window on live T.V. However, I don’t know a single radio host or DJ that would boycott his music then or even now. If we “mute” Kanye or boycott his music, we are censoring creative freedom and setting a new standard for the music industry that scares the hell out of me. Kanye was exhibiting his freedom of speech. His views are ignorant and he needs a history lesson but that is his birth given right. The media loves it and will follow this to death. It’s their job. Not me. My job is to be a DJ.
I will continue to play his music however, if I ever get the opportunity to meet Kanye again, I will tell him to put that white suit back on and just focus on creating great music. — DJ Platypus