Why Harvard & Stone is Against Rap Music and/or Why I’m Canceling My Participation in Tonight’s Show

It’s with sadness and no small amount of disdain that Passion of the Weiss will not be participating in tonight’s show at Harvard & Stone. Last evening, I received word from a...
By    May 7, 2013

It’s with sadness and no small amount of disdain that Passion of the Weiss will not be participating in tonight’s show at Harvard & Stone. Last evening, I received word from a third-party that someone at Harvard & Stone had taken a closer look at the bill that I had helped to curate alongside Chicano Batman’s manager. The text message from the H&S employee read: “Hey…I was checking out some of the act for the res, are some of them hip hop or “dance music”? Because the GM is really selective about the bands and will not allow hip hop. We try to keep it just rock n roll.”

Later on that night, I was informed of a follow-up text, this time coming from the venue’s General Manager. “Hey just wanted to make sure you guys understand why we can’t have open mike eagle perform. We only do analog rock’n’roll, rhythm & blues-based stuff. I’ve never wavered from this policy and I never make exceptions. Apologies if this puts you in a bad place.”

Keep in mind, this occurred the night before the show — after the talent had been booked, fliers made, and substantial promotion done by all parties involved. Keep in mind, no one has used “rock and roll” in the last decade, outside of a withering inductee at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. But ultimately, that’s irrelevant.

What’s most disturbing is that Harvard & Stone singled out Mike to bar him from playing for being a rapper. A rapper who samples Pavement and They Might Be Giants. A self-proclaimed art rapper who sings as much as he raps and has albums with skits about winning a lifetime supply of hummus. I’ll be following up on this with an article in the LA Weekly asking the venue to explain their side of the story. In the interim, you should really read Open Mike Eagle’s note about the incident below the jump. I’m glad he wrote it. I’m sorry he had to.

Mike Eagle’s Note:

“I admit that I use the term ‘racist’ loosely.

In the past i’ve said that my android phone is racist against emojis and that Instagram is racist against Twitter. Aside from it simply being humorous to me, it points out the absurdity of an entity choosing not to operate alongside of another entity categorically rather than for reasons of quality.

Last night I got a phone call explaining to me that a series of messages between the manager of Harvard and Stone (the venue) and the show’s organizer resulted in my removal from the show. Apparently this series of messages began with the manager asking if there were any rap or dance acts on the show, and ends with the organizer being told explicitly that due to a policy against rap acts that ‘Open Mike Eagle would not be allowed to play the show.’

As I write this, I feel very disappointed.

Disappointed not for any lofty, humanistic, or idyllic reasons though. I tour the entire country. You hear these kinds of notions in more rural areas. I’m never any happier to hear them and every time it happens I check my cell phone clock to make sure its not 1989. But these notions still do indeed exist.

I’m disappointed as an individual. Disappointed because i was looking forward to this show, i’d been promoting it, i stood to make a little money, and i need the practice for this festival I’m playing at the end of the month.

Disappointed because this opportunity was taken away from me when i haven’t done anything wrong.

I’m not a violent person and i don’t promote any negativity in my music.

A knife fight has never broken out in the audience during my They Might Be Giants mash up.

This whole thing is very embarrassing.

Not necessarily because i thought that LA entertainment would be past this. But because i have to have this sensitive conversation with my family and fans. Embarrassing because I can’t talk about how all this went down in an honest way without saying how I really feel about it.

Im fucking offended. Because whats basically being said to me is that the manager of this bar doesn’t care if i promoted. Doesn’t care about the little money I was supposed to make. Doesn’t care that I’ll look like a jackass to anyone who comes there to see me.

What he’s saying to me is that since i’m a rapper, he doesn’t care about any of this. But if I was any other kind of musician then he would care.

Thats why I feel like the word ‘racist’ is appropriate. I’m being punished for being part of a category. And while I don’t want to pretend I know enough about this man I haven’t met to attribute his prejudice to racial stereotypes, I do wonder if he would have made the decision if he’d looked at my videos or whatever he ‘checked out’ and saw a white man holding a microphone.

I can’t imagine that he actually listened to anything that I said.” — Mike Eagle

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