To kick off Black History Month, Humber College’s IGNITE program hosted a Real Talks event with the self-proclaimed “Prince of Pissing People Off,” Charlamagne Tha God. Charlamagne is best known as co-host of ‘The Breakfast Club’ on New York City radio station Power 105.1, which averages 4 million daily listeners and has headline grabbing interviews with public figures like, Kanye West, Hillary Clinton, and Justin Bieber.
During the discussion hosted by pop culture critic, Dalton Higgins, Charlamagne talked about his New York Times best selling memoir, “Black Privilege”. “The title of the book is a play on words,” says Charlamagne. “I find it a privilege and an honour to be black. Melanin is power. It’s strength so I don’t see my skin as a burden or a liability.”
Last week Charlamagne was in hot water on Twitter after an interview with breakout Love & Hip-Hop: Miami star, Amaya La Negra where she explained the difficulties she’s faced in trying to be accepted in the entertainment business as a dark-skinned Latina.Many Twitter users felt Charlamagne and his co-host DJ Envy were being condescending and ignorant in addition to discrediting La Negra’s arguments about colourism in the Afro-Latina community.
“Being black in America is dangerous, but it’s also fun as hell,” Charlamagne who is coming into his 20th year in radio, told Humber students.
“He’s controversial, that’s his niche. Without the outrageous stuff he says, he’s nothing special,” says third year Humber nursing student Stacy Campbell. “I found him more refined and uplifting today which is very different than his radio personality so that was nice to see.”
When asked about current events like the Grammys and its relation to the current state of hip hop, Charlamagne responded in his signature outspoken fashion: “I don’t care because I don’t need any of those culturally clueless old white men to validate my culture.”
First year acting student, Kion Lee says he thinks the world of Charlamagne. “He is a great inspiration due to his ability to differentiate his different responsibilities. On one hand, he’s the radio guy who rubs people the wrong way, but he’s also an author who discusses important topics and tools that people of colour can use to overcome their own hurdles.”
Charlamagne said he has many opportunities lined up for this year but left this piece advice for students looking to start building their brand as they gear up to graduate:
“You have to find out your personality and what about you intrigues people,” he said. “At the end of the day, you want to be the draw. I don’t think people necessarily tune in to the Breakfast Club to hear what’s on the show. They want to hear how Charlamagne is going to intereact with that person, what Charlamagne is going to say. It’s about you. You have to create the platform. Ain’t no Breakfast Club in Toronto? Build it. There wasn’t a Breakfast Club in New York seven years ago.”