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Mos Def is Not a Fan of the New York Observer, Claims Story Fabrication

Mos Def is Not a Fan of the New York Observer, Claims Story Fabrication

Letters to the Editor: they’re fun. But the New York Observer doesn’t run many of them online! If they did, people would know how unhappy Mos Def is with the New York Observer. But the voice of the people…

…is the voice of blog, and now, the very pissed off letter Mos Def wrote to the Observer is available for all of us to savor. Grievances: they get aired.

As the story goes, D.M. Levine wrote a story for the Observer last month about Jay-Z’s former Roc-a-Fella label partner Dame Dash, and Dame’s new venture, called DD172, described as “essentially an umbrella organization housing a number of different projects,” among which are an art space, a online-production arm, and a forthcoming culture magazine. Some of this stuff, like Blak Rok—which teamed up blues duo The Black Keys with a bunch of rappers—is pretty neat!

But Mos Def took issue with a specific passage:

On a recent blustery December night, rapper Mos Def was in the house. Dressed in brown slacks, shiny dress shoes, jean jacket and a cabby hat tilted to the side, he sipped a bottle of Rolling Rock, taking in the vibe. “It’s like a cross between early Hitsville, Andy Warhol’s Factory and a little bit of the Algonquin roundtable,” he told me. “But it’s something completely different.”

In comes Def’s letter to The Pinkest Paper in New York, as transcribed by Jeff Rosenthal of hip hop comedy duo The Real, for our hip hop editorial-comedy gold edification. Rosenthal’s transcription in full:


My name is Yasiin Dante Smith Bey, a.k.a. Mos Def.

I’m responding to the “Wannabe Warhol” article in which the writer claims that he saw me drinking “a Rolling Rock” and “in the mood to record” after “a few drinks.”

For the record, none of that ever happened … and we both know this, Mr. Levine (if that is your name). I don’t drink alcohol, and have never in your company or presence. I spent no more than a very brief moment talking to you, and only after you pleaded with me to do so on more than one occasion where I politely declined.

“Follow your first mind,” my grandmother says.

On top of NOT printing what I DID say, you printed what I DON’T do. You are telling the people a lie, Mr. Levine (if that is your name), and if you’ll lie about something so small, to “add color” to your “piece,” what you have to report about me or any person, place or thing is unreliable to say the least.

peace & good day sir.



Good day, sir indeed. For the record, Levine’s a former Conde Nast Portfolio writer who doesn’t appear to have any other bylines with the Observer. I’ve tried contacting him for quote, and we’ll update if he responds. Lesson: Mos ain’t no perfect man, he tries to do the best that he can, which involves not drinking or not doing things reported by the New York Observer. His Umi says things that sound like pretty good advice. And finally, the New York Observer needs to start running their goddamn letters to the editor online. Because this stuff is gold.

Update: D.M. Levine got back to us, and noted:

I saw Mos Def’s note in the Observer this week. Very poetic! But I stand by the story.




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