Charlamagne: God Loves Honest
Some say he's crass, insensitive and annoying when speaking his mind, he seems to think differently. In the end does it really matter what everyone thinks? With the hysterical stab he took at rapper Chingy, to the allegations made by assistant Nicole Spence against Wendy Williams' husband Kevin, Charlamagne still manages to stay on top of his game at the only black-owned radio station going. With many years deep in the game he's still pushing buttons of listeners and station directors alike and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
HipHopDX: Do you feel that you will be the next to take reign as a controversial force in the radio community as Wendy Williams is doing now?
Charlamagne the God: Definitely, I'm next. I am the future. I been saying I am the future since 2001 to 2002 ya know. Wendy [Williams] obviously saw something in me to say, "You know what I think that kid is big." That's why she got me out here from South Carolina. Me, side by side with her, ya know, she's teaching me the ropes on the next level, because I been doing this for years. I was doing radio in South Carolina. I've had my own show, Charlamagne the God: Concrete Jungle, in South Carolina. That's where she heard me. So I'm definitely next.
DX: Do you truly not care what others think about you, particularly the listeners to the show?
Charlamagne: Not at all. No, no, nothe reason is because I feel like maybe other people might feel different, but, I don't say things out of malice. I'm a very opinionated person, and I don't see anything wrong with having an opinion. We live in a world where everybody wants to be so "politically correct." I know I have politically incorrect views and potentially dangerous rhetoric, for the simple fact that I am honest, I stay true to myself. If I don't like something, what's wrong with me saying I don't like something? You would be surprised how many times you walk into these TV studios or radio studios and they tell you things like, "Don't have an opinion on this," or "Don't have an opinion on that." Me myself, I would rather not partake in any of these shows or be involved with any station that doesn't allow me to express myself. What's wrong with me having an opinion? The same way I can tell Rakim or Nas or Andre 3000 [click to read] and T.I. [click to read] that they're great emcee's, I should be able to tell somebody like Chingy or Yung Berg or whoever else that they're a wack emcee. It's just my opinion. It's the way I was feeling at the time.
DX: Many find you to be over the top and crude...do you feel your take on life and saying how you feel is only helping you or hurting you?
Charlamagne: I mean I got an album coming out on EMI. I just got the green light to be an associate producer on a BET show. I'm sitting down doing meetings with a couple other networks that are trying to develop shows for me. I think I made one of the top 30 radio personalities under the age of 30 in the country. Soif it's hurting I can't tell. Laughs. I put out mixtapes. I done got over 200,000 downloads just last month alone. My new mixtapes are on the streets right now by DJ Drama [click to read] with D. Woods from Danity Kane and Crooked I [click to view] from the west coast, so it's like, that's on the Internet right now at Tapedeck.com. I know we're gonna do at least another 100,000 downloads. I can't see where I'm hurting.
DX: With your music you poke fun at the current state of Hip Hop music. What musicians do you have respect for in the game today?
Charlamagne: Right now, like, right now? My favorite emcees of all time, my three favorites are: Nasir Jones, Ghostface Killah [click to read] and Rakim Allah are my three favorite of all time. Currently, I've acquired new era favorites of all time. T.I. is one of my favorite emcees of all time now because he is a brother that grew up in Atlanta and that's right by South Carolina and that's something I can relate to. When I see him and the things that he says and talks about in his music I can relate to, so he's one of my favorites. I like [Young] Jeezy [click to read], I think Jeezy is dope. Jeezy provides the soundtrack to my life for many occasions right now. Who else is out there right now? I like a lot of west coast artists. I like Glasses Malone [click to read]. I like Crooked I. I think Killer Mike [click to read] is incredible, I think Killer Mike has totally gotten up there with Chuck D. It's like Chuck D, Ice Cube [click to read] and Killer Mike all in the same three. Nas is in the same tree as Rakim. T.I. has just created his own tree. I think so. There's a lot of emcees that are coming out of the south now that are sort of branching off the T.I. tree. They're doing things. I don't really make fun of the whole current state of Hip Hop, but, come on man hip hop is corny right now. It's this one huge big reality show and we all just watch it. Even though we know it's fake, it's entertaining. So, ya know, that's what it is.
DX: It's funny that you mention Nas. I was just about to ask you how you feel about the album.
Charlamagne: That's my dude. I'm a Nas fan. I thought the new album was dope. Untitled [click to read] or whatever you wanna call it was dope. It was very socially conscious. It had a lot of things that I felt had a very socially-redeeming value. I just thought it was a dope album all the way around. I recently kind of met Nas though, and his energy was kind of funny. That kinda disappointed me. I guess that's why they say it's not good to meet your heroes. I met him a couple weeks ago actually. He was on the set of Wendy's TV show and his energy was just kinda funny. I wasn't really feeling his overall aura. That kinda disappointed me but as far as I am concerned, his album was a dope album.
DX: Do you think the south still can grab the credibility needed to stay in a respectable place amongst Hip Hop?
Charlamagne: The south doesn't need to be doing anything but what the south is doing. The south is no different than any other region. You got dope emcees and you got wack emcees. Just like New York had dope emcees and it had wack emcees. The south is doing nothing that hasn't been going on in Hip Hop before. The only problem that people have with the south is that the south is dope. It's the only region that is dominating right now. Nobody else seems to be able to get ahead. What everybody needs to realize is that if it wasn't for the south, most of these urban divisions of these record labels would be shut the fuck down. Clutter be coming through the pipelines. All those little corny-ass ringtones people dance to, that's what's keeping the doors open. That's what's keeping the doors open at Atlantic, that's what's keeping the doors open at Def Jam; that's what's keeping the doors open at Interscopenot necessarily Interscope because they got 50 Cent [click to read] and Eminem and them, but, let's keep it real. Come on all those other labels know this. Think about who dominated last year, Soulja Boy [click to read], Hurricane Chris [click to read]. So don't put your nose up because without the south, I would almost guarantee that most of these rap positions at these labels would be shut down. Period. What other region in rap has been doing it for six, seven years straight? You tell mename one. Look at Atlantic. They got Maino on it right now. I'm glad Maino is getting a look now because he's actually a good dude. Atlantic wouldn't take a chance on Maino before they had T.I. If it wasn't for T.I. being in Atlantic and doing the numbers that he's been doing and getting respect from the label and being able to say, "Yo this is somebody you need to rock with."
DX: What was the worst thing that ever happened to you during your radio career?
Charlamagne: What's the worst thing that ever happened to me? There's no such thing as a worst thing to ever happen. To be truthfully honest, there is no such thing as the worst thing to ever happen in life, because, every time you think something is bad, it's really just God's plan for you. Sometimes you think that just because it's a bad situation that it was not on your path, but, naw you know it was God's doing. There's a path that he wants you to be on and sometimes there's things that happen that don't necessarily detour you, but, they can make you move over to the left, a little bit, to get you to the right side of the road.
I can't necessarily think of a wrong really. I've been fired. We suspended right now. Our program director just told us that me and Wendy have been suspended today. I can't really think of a wrong thing. There's really no wrong. I can't think of a wrong thing because at the end of the dayI'm good. I'm blessed. I'm blessed now. I can't really think of a wrong thing.
DX: Do you know why you were suspended?
Charlamagne: Honestly, I have lost track of why we're reprimanded, suspended, get memos etc. I don't even really pay attention. I go sit down and talk in the director's office and everything is like a blur to me. The funny thing is, is that it's weird. We were taking off tomorrow and Monday, so now it's like, you're suspending us on our days off anywaylike that's stupid. God bless everybody man. [Laughs] God bless 'em. But you know it comes with the territory with personalities like us. That's one thing I always tell people man, don't be risqu if that's not you. If you're not willing to walk through that fire and deal with the consequences that come with being an opinionated persondon't do it. Don't do it, just because, you know what I'm saying, you can't open your mouth and be like I'm a satire. There's no such thing. That's something that people call you when you're a risqu personality. Don't do it just to be doing it. Trust me; if you're not willing to take the consequences that come with it don't put yourself out there like that. You can go and ask about me. This is me. This is how I've always been. I been doing radio since 1998-99 so you know this is what it is.
DX: What's your take on the current situation between Nicole Spence and Wendy Williams' husband Kevin?
Charlamagne: I mean it was heartbreaking. It was heartbreaking because Nicole is like family. I love Nicole; I still love Nicole to this day. She's like my sister. We don't communicate now because of the situation, but, I love her. I don't know what goes on. Do I necessarily believe itno. But they'll take it to court and check out the facts and do whatever they gotta do. It's really not my concern.
DX: When you decided to write for Ozone magazine was it done in haste? Do you feel as though it was something you thought you could handle, only for it to become somewhat of a burden?
Charlamagne: I love writing. Actually, when I got fired from WHXD Hot 98.9 in Charleston, South Carolina, this was back in '02 maybe, and I was out of radio for six months. I was doing what they call now blogs. I had a website and it was a subsidiary of MCZ and I had an actual page on the website that I was just writing to let the listeners that used to rock with me get a chance to know what was going on. I was doing that for a while. Then I was approached back in '05 and asked if I ever thought about writing a column for Ozone magazine. They said it's almost like you're expressing yourself the same way you would on the radio. Just this time you write it out. I was definitely interested in it. Ozone is a reputable magazine and it's from the south. It's like we been growing together and I've been rolling with them since.
DX: What's some advice you'd give someone who was interested in entering the radio world?
Charlamagne: The radio game is rough right now. People haven't really figured out what makes PPM tick. We got shows and stuff that are number one in their market at one point and now they're number 15 and 17. No one gets what is making the PPM move. The stations that have good PPM are the ones that have the White Cume. It's when you bring the most amounts of people to the radio station at one time. It's like having 500 people at a party and then just 20 people. Twenty people might come to the party and stay for four or five hours but Cume is more like having 500 people come to the party for 10 minutes. It's like a device that picks up whatever radio signal is around. If you walk into a building and Z100 is playing; Z100 might not necessarily be your favorite station, but, its' getting picked up. White Cume is what makes the PPM pop off. Urban stations, Hip Hop stations don't get a lot of White Cume. It's because we're urban stations. It's like how do you beat that. The law of nature or the law of mathematics is against you. There are more [whites] then there are black people. We're only 12.86 percent the population in America. I might be off, but, regardless it's like how does a black station build White Cume? You can't. So it's like a real rough time in urban radio right now. You see how a lot of stations would rather have syndicated shows and I'm not knocking that because I am definitely gonna be a syndicated personality and I am now the co-host to a host who is now. It's rough. Someone trying to get into radio I wouldn't necessarily tell them to focus on being a personality I would tell them to focus on the behind the scenes. For personalities and deejays it's kind of rough right now.
DX: Yea because recently Miss Jones lost her job.
Charlamange: Yea God bless her. She was actually in Philly but they dropped her too. Like I said radio is a tough position to be in right now. God bless her. It could happen to anybody. It could happen to us. That's why you gotta have so many different side hustles. You really gotta be about building your brand. Radio is not what it used to be anymore. I still love it though.
DX: You have a new album coming outwhat can we expect from it?
Charlamagne: I put together this album and it has other deejay personalities on it all from South Carolina. I'm not doing it because I wanna put my region on. I just want to show that here in South Carolina it is a very heavy Hip Hop industry out here. I wanted to put together a compilation of my peoples and put them on. I wanna put my peoples out there too. It's called South Crack: The Album.
Everybody that has been downloading our South Crack mixtapes you know we got South Crack Bomb 8 out there hosted by Kanye [West] and Swizz Beatz. We got South Crack Bomb 9 that will be out probably by the time you read this interview, and it's hosted by DJ Drama.
DX: With that do you have any last words?
Charlamagne: God loves everybody. God loves me. God loves you. God loves the whole planet. Everybody just needs to keep striving for perfection and to keep pushing. When I say push, I mean praying until something happens. It's bad economic times out here. Gas prices, food prices are high but we're gonna be okay. At the end of the day we are going to be okay. The problems of man are very minute problems in the eyes of God. Matter of fact they're not problems at all. He's not putting nothing on our shoulders that we cannot handle. Everybody just keep it moving man. Keep it pushing. South Crack: The Album in stores now.