Photos courtesy of MTV2
The amount of explosive storylines that exist at any given moment in hip-hop are on par with what goes on in the Marvel universe, WWE, or Empire. As the culture continues to grow larger, tangential characters are brought in and given larger roles with which they can disturb the fabric. This is essentially what happened a few weeks ago, when Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa's ex Amber Rose spoke out about Tyga possibly dating 17-year-old Kylie Jenner, thereby roping the Kardashian family and several rappers into discussing a piece of gossip online. This event resulted in a domino effect where additional characters were included and every party involved with the story (i.e. Tyga, Kanye) was able to add their two cents to the conversation. By the time the dust settled, we had differing opinions from Tyga, Amber Rose, Khloe Kardashian, Kanye West, and countless bloggers about the morality of dating a teenager and what exactly everyone should think about everything. But the person in the middle of all of these conversations-and arguably the one egging them one—was Charlamagne the God, the radio personality from The Breakfast Club, the morning entertainment show on New York hip-hop radio station, Power 105.1.
Throughout Charlamagne the God’s history, he’s never been one to shy away from asking the questions that other public personalities would be too afraid to touch, and his barbershop-style queries often echo what the casual fan is wondering. Charlamagne often plays the role of an affably clueless observer with his interview subjects, leaning into his ignorance whenever it’s most convenient. When he asked Amber Rose about Tyga’s relationship with Kylie Jenner, it wasn’t to provoke a reaction, but to find out what Amber thought of the situation as a friend of Black Chyna—who Tyga had broken up with. The resulting answer motivated Tyga himself to come onto the show in an attempt to clear the air and tell the world that he and Kylie weren’t dating—a claim that was refuted by Kanye West when he visited the show a week later. As impressive as it may be that Charlamagne managed to have a large swath of the population become interested in Tyga’s personal life, it should also be noted that Charlamagne has made more than a few enemies while asking the questions that everyone is too scared to touch. Namely, there’s his tumultuous relationship with Drake.
In 2011, Drake went on Tim Westwood’s radio show and called Charlamagne, among other things, a nerd. Taking great offense with this, Charlamagne eviscerated Drake on air during the next morning show, calling him a loser in addition to sharing a shirtless picture of (a far chubbier) Drake that he claimed to have gotten from a girl they both had relations with. The Breakfast Club episode in question has been removed from their official YouTube channel, and Charlamagne claims to have forgotten the exchange, but evidence exists online.
The fact that Drake and Charlamagne do not get along has become a sort of running gag on the show, and it was brought up again during the Kanye West interview when Charlamagne mentioned that he bumped into Drake at Kanye’s fashion show. Charlamagne himself doesn’t shy away from the beef, and he has spoken to DJ Vlad a number of times about how Drake got slapped, Drake’s sexual orientation, and how Drake’s love for strippers will eventually be his downfall. But despite these episodes, Charlamagne maintains innocence: “I don’t even know this guy. I’ve never met the guy. I’m just not a fan. Do I respect his talent? Absolutely. I think when he raps he’s one of the best, but I don’t like his singing. When he sings it sounds just Sondra from The Cosby Show.”
Having influence within a culture as incestuous as hip-hop often comes with a risk. Due to Charlamagne’s relationship with Drake, The Breakfast Club will likely never have the biggest rapper in the world on their show, but, according to Charlamagne, that’s fine. “I’ve sat down with everyone who I wanted to sit down with. I’m not gonna front, I feel good when somebody like Kanye will send me an email and be like ‘I appreciate you always keeping it 100 with me.’ All I’ve ever wanted in my life was for people to keep it 100 percent honest with me, cause I can never get better as an individual if everybody is yessing me to death.”
Noisey: For those unfamiliar, what is the issue between you and Drake?
Charlamagne Tha God: I don’t even know this guy. I’ve never met the guy. I saw him for the first time in person at Kanye West’s fashion show a couple weeks ago, I was actually standing right by him. I’m just not a fan. Listen, do I respect his talent? Absolutely. I think when he raps he’s one of the best, but I don’t like his singing. When he sings it sounds just Sondra from The Cosby Show. Whenever I express that it’s like “oh my god you’re a Drake hater. You don’t like Drake.” I’m like “that’s fine.” I have the right not to like him.
Did Drake say anything to you at the fashion show?
He didn’t say nothing to me to be honest. I walked off and he was off in the back, he wasn’t around where all the celebrities were standing. You know how you saw that whole celebrity row where there was like Jay Z and Beyonce, he wasn’t over there. He was way in the back. I went back there, but I couldn’t see so I moved and then I’m like “oh shit that was Drake.”
Did you speak to him?
No. I don’t care if he likes me or not, and I don’t have to like him. That’s the beauty of life. The beauty of life is that everybody has an opinion. One of my former bosses told me about the law of 10: three people are gonna like me, three people aren’t gonna like me, and four people aren’t gonna give a fuck about me. I think he’s dope as a rapper, but I’m just not into it.
Do you think that people go out of their way to better themselves so they’re not a Charlamagne target? Drake’s fitness transformation almost starts directly after you called him out.
I think that’s what happens when you speak your truth. The truth is just somebody’s opinion. I speak the truth as I see it. He was fat at the time. So I’m sure he didn’t see anything that I didn’t see, or somebody else didn’t see. He just decided to do something about it. It was also the “Headlines” video. He had on the black gloves and the black hoodies and had all those dudes standing behind him looking like they was ready to run up to H&M and steal everything. I’m like “dude that’s not you.” In my mind that’s not the same guy that was just on this Thank Me Later album. Where did this come from? And he’s singing about catching bodies—I thought that was whack, so I spoke about it.
What do you think about the new album?
I think “Energy” is super dope. I really like that. That’s something I can relate to. And that’s all rap is. I’ll always say that rap should be a talent show, but it’s really a popularity contest. It’s really about who says things that are the most popular. Like how many people can gravitate towards certain things? I gravitated towards Jay Z cause I can relate to a lot of the things he raps about. I loved Wu-Tang Clan because not only was it sonically appealing, a lot of the things they were talking about I was just getting into. So I hear a record like “Energy,” and I can relate to it at this point in my life. It’s just dope to me. I don’t think the whole mixtape is banging. I think he got like three or four bangers on it, and then the rest is that old, redundant Drake sound to me.
When you ask questions like the ones that ignited this whole Kylie Jenner fiasco with Amber Rose, are you doing it with the expressed purpose of starting some drama, or is it just entertainment?
Absolutely not. It’s not even entertainment, it’s just the fact that I’m a consumer like everybody else. I’m a consumer of the culture just like everybody else. I see what’s going on. I’m totally aware of everything that’s going on. The difference between me and everybody else is, I don’t have to just tweet about it. I can ask the person right then and there. And thankfully The Breakfast Club has become a platform where these people want to come. Not only do they want to come, they know we gonna ask them these questions. I’ve always said I don’t consider myself a shock jock, because I feel like there’s no value in shock whatsoever. And I’m never saying things just to get a rise out of people. All I’m simply doing is asking what’s out there. I’m never the guy that’s like “you sucked somebody’s dick in the eleventh grade. His name was Billy Johnson.” No, I’m just asking about what’s out there and that’s it.
Have you ever asked something and then maybe a week later you’re like “that really fucked up a lot of shit, I wish I didn’t ask that”?
No. Sometimes I go back and I’ll watch interviews and I’ll be like “fuck why didn’t I fly with this?” Like specifically in the second Kanye West interview he made a statement about Amber Rose, and I guess he said Amber was dirty and he took 30 showers. I started laughing, then somebody asked something else, and I wish I had interjected and said “well Kanye, some people could say the same thing about you and Kim’s relationship, because Kim has an alleged reputation.” I wish I would have interjected with that, but that’s what you go back and watch your interviews for.
What do you think your role in hip-hop is?
I’m just a fan. At the end of the day I’m just a fan. I’m the guy who tweets with everybody, I speak with everybody when I’m out in the street. Whether it’s out at schools or barber shops, I’m having the same discussions about hip-hop that everybody is. I just get a chance to actually speak to the artist. I cannot stand these radio personalities and these DJs who act like they’re authorities and gatekeepers. When we had Chance the Rapper on the show, I had no problem telling him “I’ve never heard your music. Tell me your story.” I said “a lot of people I’ve talked to say you’re just media hype,” and he explained it. I didn’t ask for that. I just thought it was a good conversation, but that’s what a real consumer of the culture does. We’re not authorities, we’re not gatekeepers.
As a fan, is there anyone that you feel like your career would be incomplete if you didn’t speak to?
At this point? Honestly no.
Out of everyone you’ve had on the show, who smells the best? Both genders please.
Female wise it’s definitely Jennifer Lopez. Jennifer Lopez smells like lemon angel wings. I smelt her chair when she got up, she smelt so good. Male wise, I think it was Tyrese.
Slava Pastuk wants to smell like Tyrese. Follow him on Twitter.
Charlamagne is on Guy Code on MTV2 every Wednesdays at 11 PM