Charlamagne Becomes One of Hip-Hop Journalism's Most Fearless Voices

Charlamagne stared down Birdman and didn't flinch, made Kanye actually answer questions. Say what you will about him, but make sure you call him fearless.
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Charlamagne stared down Birdman and didn't flinch, made Kanye actually answer questions. Say what you will about him, but make sure you call him fearless.

Birdman walked into The Breakfast Club with a purpose: to confront. Before taking his seat, with a voice shaken by rage, he demands that DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God respect his name. Everyone is perplexed by his demeanor, he’s a bull with ketchup in his eyes, a volcano ready to erupt at any moment, and that’s exactly when Charlamagne says, “Did you pull up on Ross like that or Trick Daddy?” That was the last straw. In the quickest Breakfast Club interview ever Birdman storms out.

The internet is already turning Birdman’s tantrum into the butt of every meme and joke. What’s impressive about the short clip is Charlamagne’s calmness. He is completely unphased by Birdman, not shook, not rattled, he drops the Rick Ross and Trick Daddy haymaker without a stammer or stutter. It’s easy to tweet a line like that without remorse, but to say that to a man’s face, a man you’re supposed to be interviewing, a man infamous for his connections to violence, is a feat very few journalists would be brave enough to attempt. Say what you will about Charlamagne, but make sure you call him fearless.

This isn’t his first confrontation, Charlamagne has ruffled more feathers than Toucan Sam at the strip club. Remember when Fredro Starr of Onyx turnt up on him? He didn’t flinch, fold, or fall-back. It was a heated moment and Charlamagne reacts like there’s ice in his veins. It’s a composure that he keeps no matter who's next to him. Once everything calms down he mentions how The Breakfast Club is a place where no topic is off-limits, you can’t come with a list of what you don’t want to be asked. That’s what journalism can be, should be, a conversation that attempts to get at the truth, not just promote a new album. 

When Kanye sat down at The Breakfast Club during his Yeezus media run, we expected gloves to fly with Charlamagne. It’s Kanye's reputation - the man who will not bite his tongue. He’s an incredible side-stepper in interviews, a man who can dodge a question like Neo dodges bullets, pushing on his agenda while ignoring any questions he doesn't like. It’s different on The Breakfast Club, he’s far more direct, present. Without getting aggressive Charlamagne is relentless, returning to his questions until Kanye actually answers them, actually speaks to him like a human being instead of exploding or dodging. With all due respect to Sway, there are very few who have been capable of pulling out this kind of honesty from Kanye.  

Charlamagne is the reason Drake's never been on The Breakfast Club. For years shade has been thrown on both sides, which is why the line in “Back To Back” about sending bottles to The God was baffling to hear. Even Drake, the biggest rapper in the world, tried to buy him off with a shout out in a song and some bottles. A gesture that ended a feud, but did it spark a friendship? Charlamagne is still expected to bare his fangs when it’s time to criticize. Like Charlamagne told Kanye, God’s are supposed to keep other God’s in check even when they send you expensive champagne and name drop you in a song that’s being played worldwide. The 6 God season is upon us.

Charlamagne is confrontational, brash, and outspoken. His approach to radio is why he's entertaining and also well respected. It helps that he doesn’t take anything personal. You need that mindset when you stop caring about securing relationships and playing nice with the big names. Both Envy and Angela have showcased this quality about them, but it’s always Charlamagne that ends up in the ring with artists and he never backs down.

Unexpectedly, the idea that mainstream journalism can be about confrontation, just not access and cozy relationships, is being kept alive by one man in the room of a major radio station. From the questions we ask, the statements we make, to the words we write, we aren’t here to protect images or stroke egos, we are here to report what’s real, and few are keeping it realer than Charlamagne.

UPDATE: Young Thug joins in with a threatening IG post that he almost immediately deleted, but XXL captured: "Charlamagne, make niggas torture you boy. They gonna beat the fuck out ya." 

By Yoh, aka Yoh The Human aka @Yoh31. Image via Instagram.