Charlamagne Tha God is an icon in the making, for the same reasons that make most icons: Being unapologetically himself and doing things on his own terms. This can be costly, especially early on in a career, which is often the reason that many potential icons give up or compromise their values. There are always people who don’t like you when you rock the boat or dare to stand on your own two feet because they can’t control or guide you at THEIR pace instead of your own. This dynamic has often been paramount (and unfortunate) within the urban radio industry, post-1980. A modern-day Petey Green with a great sense of humor, Charlamagne is surprised by the public perception—after the release of his great New York Times bestselling book “Black Privilege”—that he’s considered “smart.” This revelation, and his reaction to it, speaks volumes not only about the way HE is/was perceived but also about the way Black men are often perceived in general. In our community, the smart kid is often the bullied kid, so dumbing down is a way to fit in—that is, for those who WANT to fit in.
I’ve known Charlamagne for several years and I always knew he was a cut above the rest. Working in the New York market, you’d better be if you want to succeed. But what’s great about Charlamagne is that he is humble, he’s clear about his shortcomings and his strengths, and he’s wise beyond his years. For this issue, I learned a lot about him from several people, including the fact that he is widely respected; the most common thing I heard is that he does great things for people and doesn’t talk about them. Instead of writing about his beginnings here, I urge you to buy the book “Black Privilege.” There is an audio version (which I purchased) and he voiced it. (click NEXT below to see the next page of the story)
I was able to catch up with the busy broadcaster and author recently for an in-depth talk about his career, the radio industry, and his success. Note: The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. Enjoy!
What’s up, Charlamagne?
Motivational Podcast by RFFocus.org CEO Kevin Ross - More Episodes HERE