Talib Kweli speaks out after online beef with Maya Moody, banned from Twitter

EXCLUSIVE: The New York rapper accuses Moody of spreading false claims about him and says his wife and daughter have faced threats online.

(Credit: Talib Kweli and Maya A. Moody)

Editor’s Note: The following article has been flagged by theGrio’s Editorial Board because it did not meet our editorial standards. While we strive to bring our readers newsworthy and timely original stories, we are committed to transparency when a story falls short of that standard. TheGrio was first notified of the issue Aug. 13, 2020 and regrets this error. The publication has committed to a rewrite of the story.

Talib Kweli has been the topic of conversation over the past few weeks after a viral exchange on Twitter with a once unknown woman by the name of Maya Moody.

What began as a critique about rappers who date or who are married to Black women, quickly turned into a Twitter War that ultimately led to Kweli being accused of harassing Moody in a weeks-long back and forth. He’s also been suspended from the social media platform. 

After taking issue with how some media outlets, including theGrio, reported the initial story, Kweli agreed to sit down for an exclusive interview on his thoughts and feelings about how things went down. In the lengthy interview, the 44-year-old New York emcee accused Moody, 24, of making false accusations against him and fanning the flames in which his personal information was shared online by anonymous accounts. 

Read More: Talib Kweli banned from Twitter following dispute with Black woman

Talib Kweli thegrio.com
(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Ozy Fusion Fest 2017)

He says his estranged wife, another woman who is currently pregnant with his child and his daughter were harassed and threatened, providing theGrio with screenshots of text messages and social media posts from online users. Kweli also explained why he took issue with Moody’s initial tweet in which she pointed out that his now-estranged wife is light-skinned, which ultimately set the beef in motion.

theGrio also reached out to Moody to respond to some of Kweli’s claims in this interview. Her comments are throughout this article under “Editor’s Note.”

This interview was condensed and slightly modified for length and flow. This article includes language that may be sensitive to readers. The statements made by Talib Kweli or Maya Moody are theirs and do not reflect the opinion of theGrio. 

theGrio: How do you know Maya Moody? What sort of relationship did you have with her prior to this current incident?

Talib Kweli: I don’t know her at all. I believe her name is Maya Moody. She’s somebody who followed me on Twitter. And then I followed back as recently as 2016. I remember that I did unfollow her. I don’t recall the reason. But I suspect that unfollowing her is part of the story. I sent you a tweet from 2016 when I stopped following her to which she said “Talib, love you forever.” And then I retweeted it and added to it [with] prayer hands [emoji].

Now, a tweet that seemed like an innocent fan supporting now seems a lot more obsessive. I’m not saying it’s because I unfollowed her, but someone who says that they would love you forever in 2016 and then in 2020, says, accuses me of raping children. There’s something to that.

Editor’s Note: Moody admits she was a fan, particularly of his song “Black Girl Pain,” which she says came out when she was 8. “I learned that he is the complete antithesis of the public persona he depicts,” Moody says. She accuses Kweli of using her old tweets supporting his music to suggest she wanted him romantically. “The claim that I want or am even remotely attracted to Kweli in any capacity is slanderous and repulsive,” she says.

theGrio: So, you have never met her face-to-face?

Talib Kweli: As far as I know, no. I don’t even know if this is actually a person (who exists in real life). I have no knowledge of who she is or what she even does for a living.

theGrio: How did this all begin? Explain what her post was and why you chose to comment?

Talib Kweli: The reason why it caught my eyes was because it mentioned my name. [The original poster] was responding to someone who said the only rapper who married a Black woman is Snoop. His response was to make a list of rappers who are married to Black women, to sort of combat the idea that rappers don’t marry Black women. When I saw his tweet, including my name as a rapper who married a Black woman, even though I’m not with my wife any longer, I was proud to be included in the group. Right under his tweet, I saw a comment from Maya Moody.

To be fair with you, when I first responded, I did not know that this was the same Maya from 2016. I didn’t know who it was, nor did I care. I just saw someone write, “Yeah, but those women are light-skinned, but that’s a conversation for another day.” I was confused as to why she would question the Blackness of these women solely based on the fact that they seem to have not passed some arbitrary paperback test that she was putting them through.

The second thing that was potentially offensive is she was implying that the only reason these rappers married these women is because they’re light-skinned. So now you’re saying that every rapper on that list is potentially a colorist. I wanted to get clarity so I responded to Maya, “Are you talking about my wife? Are you talking about a woman that you think that I’m involved with? Or is this any of your business?” Which I felt was not just fair, but also polite questions. I also started my tweet with, “Nah, let’s have that conversation today.”

I felt like “that’s a conversation for another day” was kind of a cowardly way to approach a subject that you raised. You introduced colorism to the conversation that wasn’t about colorism. Colorism is real. Especially when it comes to hip-hop music. Black women, particularly dark-skinned women, have every right to address this issue. And they have every right to feel offended by even the perception that somebody might be a colorist.

But when you start a colorism discussion, now you’re speaking on personal relationships, marriages, and you’re being dismissive of the Blackness of actual Black women. So if we’re talking about protecting Black women, are we only talking about protecting Black women of skin color? My response was absolutely intended to start a conversation.

Read More: Talib Kweli says Trump is America’s payback for a ‘ni**a president’

theGrio: You have a history of engaging in difficult conversations on Twitter.

Talib Kweli: Absolutely. That’s something that I enjoy doing or enjoyed doing. People who are invested in me as an artist know that. People who have engaged in this targeted harassment campaign, they are not invested in me … they have no clue who I am. They have no clue what my activist work is. They have no clue what my Twitter interactions are. The biggest criticism I got from the situation is, “He keeps tagging her. He won’t let this go. He’s gone for 10 days.” I have been going off on ADOS for a year because of how they came at me and my family. So if you’re tapping out for 10 days, then y’all clearly don’t know how I do on Twitter.

theGrio: Why go back and forth with her?

Talib Kweli: I went back and forth with her for the same amount of time she went back and forth with me. I push back against the narrative that she blocked me. She was talking about me every day behind the block. Is that somehow more virtuous than me, because I was talking about her without blocking her? Yeah, I tweeted her for two, almost three weeks. 

And anytime someone came to defend her, I tagged her name in the tweet. If someone was coming to defend her, I was letting her know that she is the cause of this. Yes, I talked about her for 10 days, 12 days, 14 days, but guess what, she talked about me for the same amount of days.

theGrio: To push back on that, in some of the tweets you referenced her directly and @’d her in conversations. Some people can see that as targeting and sending people who are your followers and your supporters toward here.

Talib Kweli: This is how I run my Twitter account and nobody has to like the way that I run my Twitter account. If Maya Moody calls me a child rapist and anyone who comes and sees it says, “Hey, did you rape a child?” in defense of Maya Moody, then I’m responding to that person and I’m adding Maya Moody to that response. I’m not apologetic about that. I’ve done the same thing to Neo-Nazis. I’ve done it for white supremacists. I’ve done it to ADOS. I’ve done it for every group of people that came after me. I’ll do it again to anybody who comes after me.

Just because Maya Moody wasn’t putting @TalibKweli doesn’t mean that every single day for the last three weeks she’s been talking about me. She’s tweeting about me and telling people to not support my music. She’s tweeting videos about me made by white supremacists. She’s tweeting about me saying that I rape and molest children. Just because she did not tag me doesn’t mean, it’s OK for her to do that. If she thinks it’s OK for her to say I rape and molest children, if she thinks it’s OK to align with ADOS or post videos, anytime I respond to any of that, I’m going to @ her.

Editor’s Note: Moody says she shared a “public” article from BET regarding a lawsuit about the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy. The lawsuit, however, comes from Kweli suing the blog, Turtleboy Sports, for defamation. “I am not sure if these horrendous accusations are true or not, however, I do believe the general public should be aware of these allegations, especially in light of the Me Too movement,” Moody says. “It is imperative that consumers are aware of these types of allegations when continuing to support those in positions of power. “

theGrio: Did you engage with her on other platforms outside of Twitter?

Talib Kweli: I talked about her on Instagram, but I didn’t tag her. There was one Instagram post that I tagged her on, but I deleted it. This whole idea that someone could say that I’m a colorist, I harass Black women, someone could say I’m a misogynist and that I raped children. I can’t say anything and I can’t use my platforms that I work hard for [to defend myself]? The idea that my life has no value, that my life has no worth and I must remain silent as naysayers or liars run amok with no consequences, saying whatever they want to say about me is crazy.

theGrio: But did you send people to her profile? People are saying that you were sending people directly to her.

Talib Kweli: Please find and present any example of me ever saying to anyone to go and harass or doxx Maya. I’ve never done that. If I had done that, you would have screenshots of me doing that. The reason why you have to ask me is because this woman has made this claim and has offered zero proof for this claim. Not only have I never doxxed anyone, but I also don’t condone doxxing. These people are anonymous, nameless, faceless bots who say I doxxed someone. Present the proof. I have proof that people text my phone and say they will go pee on my children.

theGrio: You’re saying that you’ve been harassed? Give examples of how you were harassed.

Talib Kweli: She posted that I raped Res. That’s harassment. I’ve never raped anyone in my life. I already went to court and the judge dismissed the case because I didn’t sexually harass Res. She also said that I raped children. She got that from a white supremacist’s blog, Turtle Boy Sports. When you’re accusing a Black man in White America of raping children, these are offenses that Black men used to get hung from f**king trees for.

Maya was not the first to tag EQue, a woman that I married that I am no longer with. After her supporters tagged EQue, Maya began to tag her. And Maya and EQue had a public argument about me on Twitter that Friday night. I’m not on Twitter, no more. Maya blocked me. EQue said, “Why are you doing this to me?” I can’t send you all of the conversations that EQue had with Maya, because she deleted most of those tweets.

In addition to harassing EQue, Maya tweeted me saying “I’m going to take a picture of you and your side chick.” This is a woman that I’m having a baby with now. She said, “and I’m going to make my header.” Immediately after she tweeted that to me, she made a picture from my child’s mother’s Facebook that she got. Now keep in mind that’s not doxxing, it might be annoying, it might be wrong, but it’s not doxxing. She took a picture of me and my child’s mother at a birthday party, and she made that her header.

Screenshot of Maya Moody’s Twitter cover photo provided by Talib Kweli.

Editor’s Note: Moody admits to posting the photo of Kweli and the mother of his child as her header for 24 hours, but that she reposted it after others began posting online. “This was done in self-defense as an attempt to get him to leave me alone and to use humor to ease the stress, fear and anxiety he and his followers caused my family and I,” she says. Moody also claims she didn’t directly @ DJ Eque until Eque @’d her. I have never spoken to the woman currently carrying her child,” she adds.

She doesn’t know the state of my relationship, so to call my child’s mother a “side chick” is harassment. Taking her picture and making that your header that’s harassment. Tagging my wife or the woman that I was married to, that’s harassment.

She didn’t direct anyone to post my number, but she did write in a tweet, “I have his phone number. I have all his personal information.” Why are you tweeting that you have all my personal information? What do you have personal information for? What do you plan to do with it? I don’t have Maya’s personal information. So why do you have my personal information? And why are you retweeting people who are telling people to call me and threaten?

My daughter was [also] threatened. You have people talking about how they’re going to pee on my children, on behalf of Maya. How are y’all talking about protecting Black women, and people are sending me text messages like that? A woman said, “I have your mother’s address and your wife will be pressed.” My mother’s a Black woman. My ex-wife is a Black woman.

Editor’s Note: Moody tells theGrio she was never aware that Talib was harassed and says his followers are still harassing and threatening to rape her. She says her family’s address was also posted online, as well as photos of her parents and her stepmother’s old job and salary. “Talib Kweli has put my life and safety in jeopardy over a tweet that was never intended to harm anyone to begin with and did not name a single person specifically,” she said. “I do not want to see harm done to anyone, I just want Kweli to leave me alone and stop slandering me both online and in public appearances,” she adds. Moody admits that “several people from Kweli’s inner circle” have privately messaged her “confidential” information about him but that she has not shared it nor will she in the future.

theGrio: If we did a hard, deep dive, what would we find about how Talib Kweli treats Black women?

Talib Kweli: You would find that I am the writer of a song called “Black Girl Pain” and “Brown Skinned Lady.” Songs that specifically deal with colorism in hip-hop and Black culture 20 years before anyone even accused me of colorism. You will find that I have a song called “State of Grace,” which is about feminists fans of hip hop. I wrote a song called “She’s My Hero” dedicated to Gracia Meadows. I mentioned Sandra Bland on my albums. I mentioned Breonna Taylor in every interview. You will find a track record of a 20 plus year activist who always stood in solidarity with Black women, even when it wasn’t popular.

What you will not find is me doxxing a Black woman or calling a Black woman out her name like so many other rappers do. What you will not find is me, remotely any evidence that I’ve targeted Black women for harassment.

theGrio: So why aren’t you still on Twitter?

Talib Kweli: I have been suspended from Twitter because their targeted harassment campaign worked in terms of Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter for 10 years. I didn’t drastically change my behavior in the last three weeks. I posted those screenshots on Twitter, they contained the burner phone number that the person texted me from. The reason that Twitter — because they emailed me — suspended my account is because they said you cannot post screenshots of other people’s phone numbers.

Twitter decided that because I posted a phone number that I am being harmful by sharing someone’s number — doesn’t matter that the person whose phone number I posted said that it was from a burner. I was gonna leave Twitter anyway, but I felt that it was more important for people to see that [the threatening messages] were real.

theGrio: Instead of people saying you wrote them to yourself?

Talib Kweli: What she’s claiming is happening to her that she’s offered no proof for, is actually happening to me. And it was a chance I took. 

I’ve seen articles from HipHopDX. I’ve seen articles from Bossip. I’ve seen articles from The Root. I’ve seen articles from theGrio. I’ve seen articles from Madame Noire. Not one of these people reached out to me to ask me for my side. To me, that’s bullsh*t journalism. It doesn’t make sense to me that you would report a story like this and not include my side when I’m so easily reachable.

Jezebel, to their credit, asked me for my side. But once they asked me for my side, as of today they haven’t printed the story that they said they would run. What that tells me is that they were planning to write a smear piece against me but because I was able to present so many receipts and so much proof of my claim they just dropped the story. The same thing with Okayplayer, a website I have a lot of history with. I had what I thought was a long, fruitful conversation with the writer. We didn’t see eye to eye on this issue. He pushed back on me a little bit and I pushed back as well. I’m speculating here … if people actually speak to me, they realize they can’t slander me. And so they lose interest in the story. 

I have a lot of respect for journalists. If you’re going to talk about a person on something this controversial, you should speak to them. I’m not even getting that basic respect.

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