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Looking Back on the Amazing Year in Larry King's Interviews with Musicians

From making friends with fellow sex symbol Trey Songz to bringing up his ideal superpower at every turn, Larry King had a great year of interviewing rappers and singers.
December 22, 2014, 7:38pm

Larry King and T.I., photo courtesy of Ora.tv

It’s the end of 2014, and we live in a golden age of artist/fan interaction. Every social media update is scrutinized and every absurd all-caps feud is reported on. We’re all being followed by Lil B on Twitter. Hell, if you’re lucky, you might even get a response on social media from Stitches or Harry Styles. So what are some good alternatives to wading through this infatuating river of detritus on our favorite artists?

Larry King—as we found out in his interview with DJ Khaled—has been doing God’s work. He’s been interviewing all your favorite trending artists in shockingly entertaining fashion, taking advantage of his new role for online channel Ora.tv. He has more leeway to talk to pop culture figures than he did on his show for CNN, and, as a result, he's interviewed a ton of rappers this year. You couldn’t imagine some of the shit he’s been getting out of these titans of entertainment. He’s done everything from interviewing Boyz II Men to having Nipsey Hussle on a panel debate about the use of “the N word”—a topic which Larry has been obsessed with this year. He brings it up with nearly every rapper. To make it easier for all those readers who sadly missed out on this year of suspender-clad musical madness, we’ve listen these chronicled these momentous occasions. Plus, we've got our own interview with the big LK coming tomorrow.

Larry King vs. T-Pain

Main Themes: Authenticity in music. T-Pain Explaining to Larry what the fuck Auto-Tune is. The state of the industry. How T-Pain changed from a careless person to a very caring person. T-Pain’s feelz.

Key Exchanges: Larry King and T-Pain sing together in Auto-Tune. Larry’s Auto-Tune lyrics: “I would take US1 and fly to baseball games.” T-Pain is brutally honest about his feelings and how it hurt to hear all the haters. We get to hear about his many cars. He and Larry discuss how lovely it is to ride in a Tesla. One hopes someone develops a crime drama where T-Pain and Larry get to ride in a Tesla together, solving crimes.

Larry King vs. T.I.

Main Themes: The transition to Columbia Records, friendship with Pharrell. Mainly this is a showcase for T.I. to show off his new genteel southern gentleman businessman persona. Ferguson. Larry: “I’ve never understood racism. it makes no sense to me.” Larry says there is no reason that Michael Brown had to be shot. They agree that they’re both blessed to be paid for something they love to do.

Key Exchanges: Larry asks T.I. what people would be surprised to learn about him. T.I. responds that he specifically shops for socks and that he has more socks than underwear. In fact, he can’t count how many socks he has. Larry calls T.I. a sock fiend. Larry asks T.I. what drew him to socks. T.I. responds that he saw a fantastic pair of socks and was complimented on them.

Larry King vs. Steve Aoki

Main Themes: Steve Aoki’s interest in futurism. Larry asks, “what does a futurist do?” A question we’ve all been wondering. Aoki responds that he’s “optimistic about the future.” They relate about being disc jockeys. Larry tries to figure out exactly what a DJ does on stage at a show, to little avail. Aoki responds that his main talent is “connecting with the crowd.”

Key Exchanges: Larry asks Aoki about his propensity for throwing cakes: “It’s just the music and you. So you do gimmicky things, right? Like throwing things?” This phrasing accurately makes Aoki sound like a petulant child. Larry struggles to ascertain why throwing a cake at a fan’s face is enjoyable. Larry is fascinated by Aoki’s father being Benihana founder Rocky Aoki and asks, “Did he come up with the idea of chopping up all the vegetables and throwing things up in the air?” Aoki: “He’s a marketing man and an entertainer himself. Larry smiles, “Of course, it’s a great place to eat” Steve Aoki admits his guilty pleasure is listening to One Direction.

Larry King vs. Pusha T

Main Themes: Lyric driven hip-hop. Going against the grain in modern hip-hop. No Malice becoming spiritually driven and making a gospel album.

Key Exchanges: When Larry introduces Pusha T by listing his accolades, we get to hear him reference “Pitchfork” and “Complex” aloud. Larry asks Pusha what makes a good lyric. Pusha: “It infuses metaphors, similes, drawn parallels, something your core audience would understand.” Larry: “But can you hum it?” Pusha: “No. It’s words to digest.” Larry asks Pusha what the genre label “crack rap” entails. Pusha T dismisses this as a “caucasian male labeling the genre crack rap to make his journalism better.” Pusha reveals that his most embarrassing moment was forgetting his lyrics on Good Morning America. “I hummed the melody,” he says. Larry: “I like that.” Larry also admits to talking to himself all the time.

Larry King and Baron Davis vs. Common

Main Themes: Common gives a smart interview. He speaks about helping out Chicago and “instilling love and hope into the community.” He decries black on black violence. Common speaks of being inspired to write by Maya Angelou. Baron and Common’s bromance.

Key Exchanges: Larry notes the irony of the name Common, as he is a very uncommon talent. B-Diddy and Larry both harp on Common for his porous defense on Justin Bieber during the NBA All-Star Game a few years back, in which Common was viciously crossed by the Biebs. Common admits, sadly, that it was “not the way i wanted to make SportsCenter, bro.” Common kissed one of his mom’s friends when he was five. Larry says if he could have one superpower it would be to be invisible. Larry notes this in pretty much every interview and gets progressively more excited about the prospect of being invisible.

Larry King vs. Flo Rida

Main Themes: How awesome Flo Rida is. New Single “GDFR.” Flo Rida’s ridiculous sunglasses (take them off Flo! You’re in the King's chair.) The ever-so-cryptic-lyrics to “Whistle.” Both appearing on WWE Raw together. Larry explains to Flo that wrestling is fake. Flo sells houseware. He has a Miami football league. Flo Rida releases his music in strip clubs before the public. Miami. Overall Flo-Rida doesn’t give Larry much in this one and comes off as guarded and perhaps fake.

Key Exchanges: Larry asks Flo directly if the lyrics of “Whistle” are about blowjobs. Flo responds that no, the songs about blowing his literal whistle necklace. I have also interviewed Flo and asked the exact same question as Larry and received the exact same avoidant response. Larry and I are Flo Rida question brotherz for life. Larry asks Flo if he’s surprised at his success. Flo responds that he feels like he’s dreaming… but then goes on to drop this gem: “I recall watching the Jay Zs, the Biggies, the Tupacs and thinking ‘I wish I could do this’ but some of the things I’ve done [now] have surpassed them. Not to knock them, but I know that I’m blessed.”

Larry King vs. Nick Carter

Main Themes: HE’S TOURING WITH JORDAN KNIGHT!!! Nick’s reality show with Lauren Kitt Carter. HE’S TOURING WITH JORDAN KNIGHT!!! OF NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK!!! Nick overcoming severe depression and alcoholism. Nick thought the reality show, “House of Carters” was a highly negative experience. Nick’s wife is a bodybuilder.

Key Exchanges: Nick refers to “House of Carters” as “trainwreck television.” Larry refers to Nick Carter as “someone celebrated” and notes that girls converge on him. People are angry at Lauren Kitt for taking Nick off the singles market. Someone sent the couple a video of Lauren Kitt Carter’s face on a pinata and beat it up and set it on fire. Larry gets fascinated by Nick’s wife bodybuilding. Nick: “I’m deep and screwed up.” He laments not being given the same opportunities as Justin Timberlake to succeed. Nick paints.

Larry King vs. Will.i.am

Main Themes: Will.i.am. is future as heck. His new supercomputer watch he’s selling. It actually looks dope. Will.i.am. goes into surprisingly detailed technical depth about the processor. Perhaps he and Aoki should be futurist bros. He streamed a song to the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. Ferguson. What technology could do for inner cities. The music industry sucking.

Key Exchanges: Will.i.am admits to being disappointed to Obama’s presidency, despite campaigning for him. He actually eloquently vocalized a feeling I think everyone has. On the industry: “Music is now competing with Instagram, it’s competing for mindshare.” Mindshare is an awesome word. Larry asks about Will.i.am’s relationship status. He responds, “I’m married to the Puls [the watch],” which brings to mind a Her remake with Will.i.am. Will.i.am says we’ll never hear his unfinished Michael Jackson collaboration because he wouldn’t want to release it after MJ died.

Larry King vs. Trey Songz

Main Themes: This interview is sexual as fuck. Trey as a sex symbol. Larry has a definite man crush on Trey. Promoting Trey’s album Trigga. Trey’s prolific album count and how he hustled to get so many songs out. Trey’s bitterness towards his birth father. Trey’s obsession with bowling.

Key Exchanges: Larry introducing Trey: “Two sex symbols, sitting here! Jewish [points to himself]—and him!” Larry is fascinated by Trey’s relationships with ladies. Larry: “Do women date you for the wrong reason?” Trey: “Of course they do, Larry!” Trey says 90 percent of his fans are women, 10 percent males. To all the men listening: “Want women to hear what you’re saying? I’ll say it for you.” Trey says “50 Cent is hilarious,” and that he worked with 50 for Dr. Dre’s Detox. Trey Songz loves to bowl. Larry approves of this: “That’s a blue collar sport, man.” After Trey notes that he had his first kiss at six, Larry says that Trey’s “been going at it ever since.” Trey has a bowling alley in his house. Larry makes such a bizarre sound after reiterating that he’d be invisible as a superpower. Trey calls him out and says it was creepy how excited Larry got about being invisible. Larry says Trigga in a very insane way, like “Trigg-AH!” Larry asks Trey if he’s going to get a woman to help him “break in” his new house.

Larry King vs. Ice Cube

Main Themes: Promoting Ride Along and Everything’s Corrupt, Ice Cube’s new album. Film career vs. rap career. Eazy-E RIP. What is rap?

Key Exchanges: Larry: “Is [being a rapper] fun? because it seems like hard work to me to be thinking in terms of rhyme?” Larry asks what people are supposed to be doing at a rap concert: “You can’t dance to rap can you?” Ice’s brother is a mail carrier. Larry: “Do you take care of him?” Ice: “I don’t know if i take care of him, but he definitely gets a lot of cool gifts!” Larry: “I can be a rapper! I’d be Iced Coffee!” Ice Cube kind of laughs at this. Larry and Ice relate over their love of Sinatra.

Larry King vs. Boyz II Men:

Main Themes: B2M’s residency at the Mirage hotel. Their 11th studio album Collide. Their fall from fame. The internet ruining their careers. Being in the choir together when they all first met. Their fourth member, Michael, leaving the group and being a complete dick.

Key Exchanges: Michael, the fourth member, didn’t want to participate for the 20th anniversary. They have no idea what Michael does for work. Larry keeps trying to pressure them to talk about Michael, but they seem kind of over it. Not friends anymore. Putin invited Boyz II Men to Russia to get the birth rate up. Sean said his first kiss tasted like sunflower seeds. Another bizarre invisibility reference by Larry.

Larry King vs. Tyler the Creator

Main Themes: Tyler is trying way too hard here to seem quirky and crazy in front of Larry. He keeps reiterating how original and creative he is. He’s definitely trying to shock Larry by cursing up a storm and just overall acting like a sixth grader who just discovered South Park. Tyler’s cursing and wacky lyrics. Rap being lame.

Key Exchanges: Tyler starts the interview by putting his feet up on the desk, which is just rude. Does he even know who Larry is? Tyler admits he was annoying in high school. Tyler relishes cursing, and Larry, while clearly uncomfortable, puts up with it. Tyler says he’s pretty much over rap and that rap sux. “I hate rapping because it puts you in this box… I’m pretty bored with it… it’s not interesting.” Larry directly asks if Tyler is homophobic. Tyler defends the use of the word “fag.” Larry could have pounced here, especially when Tyler says, “I know straight dudes who act like fags, like they’re being a piece of shit’. Larry:“You’ve been termed absurdist. do you think you’re absurd?” Tyler: “Nah, just loud and honest” On women: Tyler doesn’t want to settle down yet. “As a rapper, you are a big shark and can do a lot of fun stuff.” When Tyler says how he hates social media and it’s stupid, he keeps yelling it’s making kids stupid. Larry replies, “You’re making that clear to me!” with a halting tone. When Tyler is asked if he has a spirit animal he answers a bunch, including a dragon, and Larry is flabbergasted and goes, “What does that mean?”

Larry King vs. Akon

Main Themes: Being locked up in prison and using that as inspiration to succeed as an artist. Akon’s project that intends to light up rural areas of Africa with electricity. “The N word.” Akon being the king of the ringtone market. Akon’s beef with Lady Gaga.

Key Exchanges: Akon: “Men are not meant to be monogamous.” Akon does not have a monogamous marriage. But Akon doesn’t let his wife go with another man, because men and women ‘aren’t the same.’ There’s strain with Gaga over “Just Dance” royalties. Akon reveals his love for “Mumford and Sons,” to which Larry replies, “sounds like a clothing store!” Akon cackles. Akon says he would be a detective if he weren’t a musician. Detective Akon…

Larry vs. Nipsey Hussle

This is a panel discussion that mostly centers on the NFL banning the N word in its games. Nipsey does have a few choice contributions, though.

Larry agrees with Nipsey on the ludicrousness of prejudice. It’s great hearing Larry saying “Nipsey” aloud. Larry asks Nipsey why he says the word in his lyrics. Nipsey: “Black people in America is a unique culture. That word is part of the black culture in America.” Larry tells him, “Jews don’t call each other kykes.” Nipsey: “Black people don’t call each other niggers.” Larry: “But they do, don’t they?” Nipsey: “They call each other nigga…” This one’s pretty interesting.

Jon Peltz is America's leading Larry King scholar. Follow him on Twitter.