Damon Dash’s Basement, Where Facts Go to Die


Truth is an ever-shifting creature in the confines of Damon Dash’s infamous 172 Duane Street Tribeca loft. The venue began as Under 100, before we got the place (allegedly) shut down; shortly after that, it reared its majestic head once more in an article in the Observer, this time going by the name DD172, and marketing itself as a Warhol-esque hipster factory hosting everything from art collectives to hot blondes. Then it turned out Under 100 was actually alive and well as a venue–until it wasn’t, anyway, and so the cycle of confusion continued. Now, no less a persona than Mos Def has chimed in, calling the Observer out for lying about his role in the place.

Said the Observer then:

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.”

Something completely different indeed. In a letter he wrote to the Observer, helpfully transcribed by It’s the Real’s Jeff Rosenthal, Mos wrote:


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.



In case, that is, there was a person on the planet who somehow believed in the utter reliability of any news escaping from one of the most hilariously truth-challenged buildings in the entire city. Gawker and our esteemed future co-worker Foster Kamer got a hold of the Observer writer, who responded by saying, “I saw Mos Def’s note in the Observer this week. Very poetic! But I stand by the story.” And why wouldn’t he? It’s not like anyone will ever know the entire truth about what takes place in Dash’s magical land of marijuana and Sleigh Bells shows.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 22, 2010

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