Jonah Crashes Kanye

Kanye West is notorious for crashing people and things: Taylor Swift. Beck. “American Idol” auditions.

Now, the recording artist/songwriter/record producer/fashion designer/ entrepreneur has been crashed himself.

The honors go to a 19-year-old Staples High School alum.

Last weekend, after releasing a new album — “Life of Pablo” — Kanye created a popup shop to sell “Pablo” merchandise.

Lines wound around the block. Cops maintained order.

Jonah Levine

Jonah Levine

Meanwhile, Westporter Jonah Levine and his friend Austin Butts printed “Pablo” on things like jeans, tops and suit blazers. Then they started selling bootlegs of the authorized goods — across the street.

Jonah graduated from Staples in 2014. He’s now a New York-based model, stylist, designer and DJ.

Thanks to his dad — Crushing Music founder Joey Levine — Jonah has hung out in the studio with Diplo and Mike Will Made-It. He recently started producing music on his own.

Jonah started his 1st clothing line at 13. He and Austin are now collaborating on 2 emerging brands: Asspizza and Gomina. Complex Magazine called Jonah one of the internet’s “cool teens.”

So how did Kanye react to getting crashed?

His team liked the bootlegs so much, they put some in Kanye’s own store to sell.

Austin Butts and Josh Levine, with their bootleg merch.

Austin Butts and Josh Levine, with their bootleg merch.

(Hat tip: Jeff Mitchell)

29 responses to “Jonah Crashes Kanye

  1. I don’t get it. How is “crashing” different from counterfeiting? Or is stenciling a generic first name on a bunch of schmattes not trademark-able in the first place?

  2. How is bootlegging not stealing? And why is this something to congratulate?

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Yes. Bootlegging, by definition, is illegal and, I agree, something that is a bit odd to be congratulating. It sounds like Dan, shockingly, used a poor choice of words if, as Jeff Mitchell notes below, the boys simply wrote a generic “Pablo” on stuff rather than some stylized and trademarked by Kanye “Pablo”.

      On the other hand, whether what they did was actually illegal, perhaps Dan is actively encouraging illegal activities anyway. Hmmm.

  3. What makes it even more stupid than the counterfeiting aspect of it is why glorify a narcissistic no talent idiot like Kanye. This is really the continuation of the dumbing of America!

  4. Crashing simply implies cashing in, not counterfeiting. No trademarks were broken. Kanye doesn’t own the word “Pablo” nor every possible stylistic variation of the word. Jonah and Austin ingeniously showed they could create “Kanye-inspired” clothing that people would buy– so much so that even Kanye’s own fashion people were impressed, and that’s impressive regardless of one’s views on Kanye himself or his music.

    • Ok so “crashing” means what traditional schmatte people called “knocking off” a designer original. Not illegal, but often tacky.

    • Then what are the “authorized goods” referred to in Dan’s piece (or rather, the press release it quoted)?: “Then they started selling bootlegs of the authorized goods — across the street.”

      • Authorized by Kanye. I’m sorry I posted this story!

        • Hate to say I agree with you…terrible story.,,actually…anything to do with in any form….Kanye or a Kardashian is just a bad story…even though these kids show some entrepreneurial spirit!

          • Nancy Hunter Wilson

            Entrepreneurial spirit? “Yeezus”! He’s just hoping to pay off his $53 million debt so he can spend another $53 million on HIMSELF! I have to wonder who the guy banks with?
            At least, I’ve learned a new word today: “schmatte” (Yesterday, it was “schooner”).

        • Dan- why all the soul searching on this one!!

          Jonah didn’t do anything illegal or unethical- no cease and desist orders. No lawyers breathing down his neck. There was no copyright or patent protection on the word “Pablo”.

          Kayne gave Jonah an opportunity for a little free enterprise and risk taking. If the folks on line want to buy Jonah’s shirts he makes a profit- if they don’t buy he’s selling the shirts at a loss to a discounter!!

          Obviously Kayne wanted to buy his shirts!!

          Hmmm – You just have to get used to the fact that you have a tough crowd reading your blog.

  5. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Lots of knock offs to buy just steps from St. Peter’s. Chanel, Hermes, you “name” it. This Pope doesn’t seem to mind, though. Now I’m wondering if Benedict’s shoes were really Prada?

  6. Wow this story has really hit a nerve. Maybe it’s because the issue threatens what’s truly at the heart of our self-worth here in Westport: our faith that our designer clothes and accessories are genuine!

  7. Just an after thought- Kayne’s buying Jonah’s shirts to sell in Kayne’s store makes them official and authorized by Kayne!

  8. Jonah Levine

    Alright folks here’s the deal.
    First and foremost, I’m involved in a world of art and fashion that I’m sure 90% of those reading this article are not aware of at all. Basically, I see and work with people like Kanye’s creative team all the time. Throughout the history of “streetwear”, the concept of bootlegging has been a re-occurring theme, and has launched the careers of countless artists. One of Barneys top selling current brands, “Vetements” is notorious for bootlegging and putting other companies fonts and logos on their $700 hoodies. It’s all part of the game, and it’s all just another form of modern art.
    The actual Kanye merch being sold at the store was simply the word “Pablo” printed on Levi’s denim jackets and blank Gildan hoodies that you can get for $5 a piece. Not to mention, the font was created and is still owned by artists, Cali Dewitt (who actually told Austin and I that what we were doing was totally acceptable)
    When I saw how simple the designs were, I realized I could just do this myself, and why not? It cost me no more than $50 to put together the whole operation.
    My “bootleg” merch was no less real than the actual merch being sold in the store. Same printing process, same type of ink used, same everything. Only difference was it was printed by hand and not machine. Kanye West’s creative team stopped by the studio that we were printing at multiple times to tell us how cool it was that we just did what they were doing but on a smaller scale. This was just one big Art piece! Sorry for being young and creative! Have fun waking up at 6am for your job as an IBM pawn. Leave me alone. Sorry for being cool!

    • Jonah, relax. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was just having a little fun with the story which — admittedly — trades in a jargon unfamiliar to me. But if you seek publicity, you need to be prepared to take a few knocks along the way. You should be thankful that Dan has covered you, and that Dan has readers who are involved enough in his stories that they bother to comment…unlike certain other online news sources around here.

    • Sandy Hallen

      and thank your father for getting up at 6am to go to work since before you were born so you can be a ‘model, stylist, dj’. tough out there kid

  9. Kristin Kehrberg

    Why are you all beating this to death? This was one day in the life of some young people who are doing lots of interesting things. Dan, you got some details wrong, and could have easily contacted Jonah directly. He has many other impressive stories for you that wouldn’t get such negative responses from bored old people.

  10. I personally learned more from Jonah today in one paragraph about the modern day fashion industry than in everything I had read prior combined. Just as many 60s parents considered the Beatles to be unlistenable, and Elvis unwatchable, many parents now consider rap to be the unlistenable and its artists unwatchable. The modern day definition of art and fashion is also apparently radically different these days than when we were young. Nobody can be blamed for not knowing what they don’t know, or, when duly educated, for preferring what they are used to. In the end, if you didn’t learn anything today, regardless of your reaction, then apparently the expression “live and learn” doesn’t resonate with you.

    • Actually Jeff, my parents loved Elvis and the Beatles as much as Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman. Personally speaking, I did learn something today. I think Jonah, Austin and their posse have talent and show true entrepreneurial spirit which I noticed from the get go. I do think, however…my opinion…that Kanye has no talent and these kids happened to have a lot more talent especially given their creative drive and success. As Peter Blau stated…they do have to thicken up their skin if they are going to put themselves out there… They are talented nevertheless and should focus on their own unique creativity and not on some idiot that has a narcissistic bent. Good luck to both of them and I am sure they will continue to be wildly successful. Now I will leave this subject alone all together!

  11. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Bootlegging and innovation are synonymous. Just drive fast!