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Deejays, at times, have to bear with hostile revellers in line of duty

By Manuel Ntoyai
Monday, January 20th, 2020
Entertainment joint B-Club is sealed off for investigations after the alleged shooting of a deejay last Thursday.
In summary

Many times, deejays, among other entertainers, have had to bear with hostile revellers when serving their favourite jams. And as MANUEL NTOYAI writes, this has not always played out well

The alleged shooting of a young and fast-rising deejay Felix Orinda aka DJ Evolve by Embakasi East MP Babu Owino at uptown entertainment spot B-Club in Kilimani, Nairobi, blatantly showed the precarious position entertainers expose themselves to while in office.

The Thursday night incident has since received heavy condemnation from Kenyans of all walks of life, with Babu Owino expected to be arraigned today.

The deejaying fraternity has said the ‘brutal attack’ against one of its own was barbaric and demands the aggressor faces the full force of the law.

“We will keenly be following up on the proceedings and demand the Kenyan government and the office of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations ensure Babu Owino faces the full force of the law.

As per our constitution, attempted murder is a crime that has serious consequences that also include life imprisonment.

“The act carried out by Hon Babu Owino is tantamount to attempted murder against an unarmed and innocent hardworking Kenyan by an ostentatious youth leader who casts shame on not only the current leadership, but to all aspiring Kenyans at large,” read a statement.

DJ Evolve.

Kenyans deejays in diaspora also commented on the happenings saying: “This latest act of violence also falls within a disturbingly growing patterns of incidents Kenyan deejays are frequently subjected to while on duty.

We would like to call on the authorities, elected leaders, and stakeholders to urgently address the growing plight of DJs in Kenya.”

Push for justice 

To that effect, DJs (under the banner of DJs United movement led by artiste, deejay and music investor Gregg Tendwa) have planned a peaceful demonstration themed ‘No Guns In Our Clubs’ at Parliament tomorrow morning, with Amnesty International lending a hand to push the quest for justice for DJ Evolve.

The organisation is working towards building an alliance with the DJs, through which a commitment on workplace safety for all DJs and clients coming to public places of entertainment among other set agendas will be sought.

“If this policy is effected, we will be able to avoid more blood spills and we can focus on entertaining our clients without fearing for our lives,” said Tendwa.

Harassment while on the wheels of steel is a common feature for a lot, if not all DJs, who by the virtue of their trade often find themselves in between a rock and a hard place.

DJ Saye.

“Politicians and the so-called big people in society are used to having their way, so they will come and demand for a song, we play songs according to beats per minute (bpm).

For instance, you could be in a session that is modeled for songs around 100-103bpm, but the ‘big person’ will come and demand you play a song of 108bpm.

For this to happen, he would have to wait because it is professionally impossible, but but they won’t understand this bit.

They easily get agitated and start hurling insults towards the deejay,” says Meru FM’s DJ Patchez.

For female DJs, the situation is even worse; from the double standards with assumptions they cannot spin it better than their male counterparts to sexual harassment, they get it rough while trying to make ends meet.

“Some men are at times extra too friendly and if you command respect, it is taken as being rude.

DJ Patchez.

Personally, I’m good at expressing myself and always try to create a healthy conversation. It is hard, but it is part of the job,” says Mombasa-based DJ Saye.

Unresolved wars effect

Away from the harassment from the booths, DJs have had altercation with collective management organisations (CMOs).

When the CMOs (Music Copyright Society of Kenya-MCSK, Performers Rights Society of Kenya-Prisk and Kenya Association of Music Producers-Kamp) said their intentions to license DJs for playing music, then later declared war on Kenyan music, threatening to pull off the plug on all Kenyan music from their playlists. 

Kenyan artistes and the CMOs have also accused them of promoting foreign content in the media and entertainment spots. Even if the involved parties declared a ceasefire, a cold war still exists between them.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino.

“The CMOs are a hungry lot who are killing the industry. They issue licenses to the clubs where we play, then want to tax us too. We are always victimised when it comesto such incidences,” adds Patchez.

With the invasion of foreign music into the local space, DJs again were at fault for promoting it at the expense of local content.

“We heard about the #PlayKeMusic cry and we headed to their (artistes) call and rallied behind it.

Unfortunately, instead of creating a friendly environment, the CMOs decided to come after us in the name of licenses. This poured cold water on the spirit of cohesion,” says spin master Arika.

No letting go

The CMOs remain adamant payment of licenses is not a matter subject to debate, but they have been seeking to build consensus with the involved parties.

“It is a fact that DJs use music as part of their business, hence music content has to be paid for.

However, we know we have a symbiotic relationship with them and that’s why we have engaged them in a number of round-table discussions to chart the way forward,” Prisk chairman Ephantus Kamau tells Spice. 

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