Sacramento Radio Station Bans Kanye West's Music

Billboard

Kanye West's performance at Sacramento's Golden 1 Center on Saturday night (Nov. 19) was cut short after just 30 minutes following a lengthy, now-standard monologue from the MC -- who was reportedly an hour-and-a-half late -- that targeted Beyonce, Jay Z, Hillary Clinton, Taylor Swift and the radio industry. Kicking things off by teeing up radio, he accused the "real people that gotta feed their kids" of not playing artists like Frank Ocean and Kid Cudi because they get paid to play the same songs over and over again. (He peppered in plenty of "Radio, f--- you!" sound bytes as well.)

It would be his last show of 2016 -- a rep for West confirmed to Billboard yesterday (Nov. 21) that the remaining 21 dates of his Saint Pablo Tour are canceled. It also proved to be the last time West's music would be played on Sacramento's KHHM Hot 103.5 for "a very long time," according to the station's music director, Justin "JayMarzz" Marshall, who went on a lengthy monologue of his own yesterday morning on Hot's Sugabear in the Morning a.m. show.

In a YouTube clip uploaded by the radio station called "WTFNEWS: JAYMARZZ GOES IN ON KANYE WEST!," the three morning show DJs begin by playing West's "Fade" before Marshall stops the record. "That's the last time you're going to hear Kanye West's 'Fade' on this radio station -- also the last time you hear any Kanye West song on this radio station for a very long time," he begins, before addressing the Sacramento show and laying out a few reasons for the ban.


"Everybody came out to have a great time Saturday night. A lot of fans in the building, a lot of people had spent a lot of hard earned money, bro, a lot of hard earned time," he says. "Time is something we can't get back. Everyone can get a refund back, but you can't get your time back. You can't get the emotion back that you were gonna put into that show, to watch someone that you love... This is called a moment, folks; these are what make our lives. Moments and memories to share with each other and stuff. And he took that from people Saturday night."

A fair assessment. But Marshall was just beginning, somewhat confusingly calling West "a piece of crap, because I can't say what I want to say" and said West should "go to hell for that." He then addressed West's criticism of the radio industry, saying that KHHM has played every single off The Life of Pablo.

"You're going to go into Sacramento and say 'F radio,' really bro? Really?" Marshall says. "You're the same guy 15 years ago that was begging radio to play you. And they did and they gave you a shot. Without radio you didn't blow up to be the artist that you were. That you were, because you're no longer that artist anymore. You're no longer the guy pushing five million albums, selling millions and millions of singles."


The fact that nobody, save Adele, is pushing five million albums these days seems to be beside the point for Marshall. He then references Nielsen Music numbers -- on which the Billboard charts are built -- to say that "Fade," released as a single in September, ranked at No. 67 in singles sales in the past week with 10,000 downloads, compared to Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles," released in as a single in August and which sold 144,000 downloads as it flew to No. 1 on the Hot 100 on the strength of the viral Mannequin Challenge. (Also worth noting, regarding the power of a viral push like the Mannequin Challenge: in the week ending Nov. 10, the week "Black Beatles" first hit No. 1 and the sales week Marshall is referencing, the song ballooned 320 percent in sales over the previous week; of its 433,000 sales to date by the week ending Nov. 17, 298,000 have come in the last two frames. "Fade" has sold 133,000 copies through the week ending Nov. 17.)

While the comparison is pretty apples-to-oranges given the random nature of viral hits, Marshall uses the juxtaposition to argue that West's fans don't buy his music anymore, and that radio still plays a big role in breaking records. That is often true for mainstream records, of course, although using "Black Beatles" as an example is a curious way to promote radio's importance. The song rocketed to No. 1 with the least airplay for a song atop the Hot 100 since Zayn's "Pillowtalk" in February, and has increased 57 percent and 63 percent in the past two weeks, respectively, in airplay impressions as radio pushes to catch up to the song's demand.

Of course, the music industry is betting its future on streaming, as that medium became the dominant revenue stream for the business in the first half of 2016, according to the RIAA, accounting for 57.4 percent of overall revenue. West, whose Pablo album became the first-ever LP to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with more than half of its units coming from streaming back in April, will be fine there, with no radio station boycotts stopping fans from listening to his catalog.


Ticketmaster has offered to refund all tickets for West's Sacramento show, while West, after canceling the rest of his Saint Pablo Tour, was reportedly hospitalized due to exhaustion and sleep deprivation. (Marshall's comments were made before news of West's hospitalization was reported.) It's fair to wonder what Marshall's real gripe here is: is he defending the local Sacramento fans who felt betrayed and had their time wasted by West's actions? Is he angry that West seems ungrateful, in a way, to a radio infrastructure that has supported him in the past? Is it something more personal? Marshall did not respond to a request for comment from Billboard.

"Don't crap on your fans, man," he says. "Don't crap on the people who have given you this life that you have. Don't do that. Because if they don't buy your music, if they don't buy your tickets, there is no Kanye West. You're just another bum local rapper trying to push a mixtape on a corner if people don't buy your music. If you wanna be on your Trump crap, get online with your own life, bro. Why don't you start thinking about your own life, think about the family that you married in. All that fake plastic that surrounds you and you want to be real and have emotions? You married into the fakest family in the world. All they give a damn about is money and fame, and you're so anti that right now? Really? You hypocrite."

Update (Nov. 22, 5:28 p.m.): After publication of this story, Marshall did respond to Billboard and elaborated on some of his reasons for the ban, which he says has gotten a "95 percent positive" reaction from KHHM's listeners. "First and foremost, basically hurting the fan base in Sacramento who took a lot of time and effort to go see the man perform and then a lot of anger that night due to the fact of him walking off stage," Marshall said about why he banned the music. "And then two, when you talk bad about an industry that's supported you for so long, it's kind of like, 'Why should we continue to support someone that clearly feels this way about our industry and what we do?'"

On West's comments targeting radio, Marshall said he understood the point West was trying to make about playing artists like Cudi, but that as "one of those guys that radio plays over and over and over again, it was a very interesting thing to say... I don't think ungrateful is the word I'd use, but I definitely think he feels he has gotten bigger than the medium."

And regarding West's health -- as previously stated, Marshall's words came well before reports that West had been hospitalized -- Marshall was sympathetic but resolute. "I hope and I want Kanye to get better and fix those issues so he can get back to a better place and come back out and perform, because that's what people want to see at the end of the day," he said. "But I still do not feel what he did to Sacramento was right, regardless."