Local News

Rapper gives former Durham coffee shop employees $20K after they were fired for playing his music

Posted May 12, 2018 9:10 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:15 a.m. EDT

— Rapper Young Dolph gave the two workers who were fired from a Joe Van Gogh location on Duke University’s campus $20,000 on stage Friday night at his Miami concert.

A video at the concert shows Dolph giving Kevin Simmons and Britni Brown the money to hold them over until they find new jobs.

The pair lost their jobs at the coffeeshop after a Duke administrator complained about the lyrics of a Young Dolph song he heard playing when he stopped in for a drink.

"Until y’all get new jobs – ‘til y’all find new jobs. I got $20,000 for you all right now," he said.

Simmons and Brown immediately apologized and turned the song off when Duke Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta complained, but the two baristas were fired on Monday after Moneta contacted the director of Duke dining to express his concerns.

Joe Van Gogh officials said Duke officials wanted the staffers fired, but Moneta denied that was his wish.

Simmons and Brown were guests at the Miami concert Friday night when they received the $20,000 gifts.

WRAL spoke with the former employees last week who said it was emotional losing their jobs. "Get Paid" by Young Dolph was playing automatically on a Spotify playlist when Moneta walked in.

After days of back-and-forth and much unwanted publicity, Joe Van Goh owner Robbie Roberts said Friday he would close the operation on Duke's campus altogether.

"I have decided to cut my company’s ties with Duke University. I believe it’s the right thing to do to preserve Joe Van Gogh’s brand independence without conditions," Roberts said in a statement.

Duke President Vincent Price apologized Thursday for the Joe Van Gogh incident.

"I will simply say that I am deeply sorry that we are not where we want to be as a university," Price said in a statement. "We have somehow lost the sense of compassion and human tolerance that should define our community."

Roberts told WRAL Saturday that it's best that he has full control over all seven of his stores and personnel decisions. He's currently working on a way to get Simmons and Brown back as employees at Joe Van Gogh and heard about their recent cash flow:

"That's absolutely fabulous. Certainly much better money they could make working at the coffee house," Roberts said.

Roberts said he takes full responsibility for the decision made but ultimately a relationship separate from Duke is what's best for Joe Van Gogh.

He's offering jobs to all the employees at the Duke location - at other Joe Van Gogh locations.