Thanks to David Forbes and the Mountain Xpress for covering the lack of hip-hop at Bele Chere in the Aug. 10 issue [“Not Too Kool”]. DJ Kool and Doug E. Fresh would have been a wonderful addition to the lineup. The suggestion that they pose any sort of "risk" in comparison to other artists is ludicrous and offensive, as is suggesting that the relatively unknown replacement better suits the Asheville "demographic.”
If I rattled off my local acquaintances, a large portion of them would be late 20s, mostly white, whose formative years were in the late 80s/early 90s; they either love hip-hop like me or have a soft spot in their hearts for party tracks such as those DJ Kool and Doug E. Fresh are famous for.
I'd hate to think that this is a racial issue, but it is difficult to reconcile the final selections with anything but. It isn't a "live music" issue: Asheville has respected DJs perform year round and is now host to a festival celebrating electronic music and art. It isn't a popularity issue: clearly there was a big push for the act. It isn't a crime risk issue: more incendiary acts (of multiple races) play all the time in Asheville without incident. (I include this only because it was mentioned in the article, but the idea of a DJ Kool/Doug E. Fresh performance being a crime risk is laughable.)
It's time to get real. There is no reason such a well-known artist with a positive attitude who is willing to do the show at near minimum cost should be excluded. It's time to stop throwing up the defenses whenever race is mentioned and have a frank discussion.
— Will Hessling