Radio jock Charlamagne Tha God gives the backstory on his epic on-air conversation with Kanye West
For the Kanye West obsessive, Thanksgiving arrived a few days early. After illuminating New York City brighter than its normal holiday wattage with his “Yeezus Tour”––two shows each at Barclays and Madison Square Garden––Kim Kardashian’s better half capped his Big Apple exhibitions with a 48-hour press run that appeared as dizzying in route as it was on-air. The impassioned and often enigmatic rap artist stopped by terrestrial stations like Z100 and satellite kings such as Sirius. His interviews ran a monopoly on Internet headlines. There was breaking news (the Yeezys fart Air; Ye inks new shoe deal with Adidas), new info on old news (West chose Jay-Z over Dame Dash to learn how to be nice), a litany of poppycock quotables (“Me and Don C got people wearing Jordans”), and an expected spazz on an unexpected target (Sway Calloway). The cream of the crop, though, was the Power 105.1’s Breakfast Club interview aka Yeezus vs Charlamagne Tha God. With DJ Envy and Angela Yee taking a reclined seat, a steely, resolved and relentless CTG jabbed his way through quite possibly the best interview of his 16-year career. The interview was such a highlight, it inspired VIBE Editorial Consultant, Bonsu Thompson to ring Charlamagne (fresh off of a plane to his home state of South Carolina for the holidays) in hopes of garnering some insight on CTG’s interview and current disdain for Mr. West. Thanksgiving came early indeed. This is how the on-record portion of the epic 55-minute call went.
VIBE: What up sir?
Again, great work yesterday. You were definitely prepared, but loved the way you kept your pivot.
Thank you, man. You know what’s funny? Everybody kept saying ‘You were prepared,’ but I’m a fan of the culture. We all sit back and hear Kanye’s rants and interviews and wonder what happened to our guy.
When did you first hear that you were going to interview Kanye?
Friday [the station] hit me and said Kanye would be coming to the station [on Monday] at 10am. My reply back was ‘Yeah, right. I’ll believe it when I see it.’ That was literally my reply back, and I didn’t think nothing else of it. On Sunday, we got a call from Def Jam like ‘Kanye’s not going to do the interview unless you go see his show.’ I was like ‘I’m going to watch my Cowboys play the Giants.’ [Laughs] I would love to interview him, but I’m not beat. Angela Yee ended up going to the show and he ended up coming.
To be honest, what Angela said about the show making you appreciate the Yeezus album a little more is true. So were the Cowboys the only reason you were against seeing the show?
I’m not on the Yeezus tip right now. He put out an album that didn’t shift the culture at all. He talks about it being a conversation piece and polarizing, but everything that comes out, whether it’s a TV show or book, is polarizing. So for that to be the selling point of his album is not good. That’s regular. Saw the “Glow In The Dark Tour”––amazing. Saw the “Watch The Throne Tour”––amazing. Just wasn’t into Yeezus. Rather go see my Cowboys.
Kanye walks in for his interview. What’s his energy like?
First thing the label people asked was, ‘Charlamagne, you going to be nice today? ‘Absolutely not,’ was my response. Nice to them is me throwing softball questions and stroking his ego. That’s not what I do. I’m either a fan or a disgruntled fan. With ‘Ye I was a disgruntled fan. All year this guy has turned me off. I’m looking at him like ‘Who is this guy?’ What is your agenda? If you’re upset because they won’t allow you into the fashion world, that’s a Kanye West plight. That’s not a black people plight. How does you not getting into the fashion world effect us as a community?
It is his plight, but it seems as if he’s trying to motivate the same way he did on College Dropout, where he spoke on folks wanting to him to only produce and not rap. Now he’s a superstar rapper but still an artist who still wants to create and be more. As on Dropout, he’s saying don’t let them tell you what you can’t be. He feels they’re putting him in a box, so…
He put himself in a box! You said he’s telling us not to let anybody tell us what we can’t be, but he’s allowing them to tell him what he can’t be. Kanye West is one of the most powerful people in music. He’s a multi-millionaire, has tons of resources. Why can’t he do what Jay-Z did? Why can’t he do what Diddy did? If you don’t want to have an urban brand, don’t make an urban brand!
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