Charlamagne Tha God (@cthagod) is a radio presenter (The Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM), television personality (Uncommon Sense Live), podcaster (The Brilliant Idiots), and author of Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It. [Note: this is a previously broadcast episode from the vault. For our most recent interview with Charlamagne, check out Episode 171: Charlamagne Tha God | Turning the Tables on Fear and Anxiety!]
What We Discuss with Charlamagne Tha God:
- What transformed Lenard McKelvey from Moncks Corner, South Carolina into Charlamagne Tha God?
- How Charlamagne went from selling crack in a small town to becoming a radio and television personality — and now author.
- Why the moment you think you can’t transcend your circumstances — whatever they may be — is the moment you won’t.
- How Charlamagne reframed his background to become an advantage rather than a hindrance.
- Why it’s important not to live someone else’s expectations — and how to figure out when expectations are actually your own.
- And much more…
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No matter who we are or where we’re from, the discovery that life isn’t fair is one of our earliest lessons. Some people are born into wealth, comfort, and opportunity, whereas others are dealt a seemingly jinxed hand that contains none of the above.
Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It author Charlamagne Tha God joins us to talk about how he transcended humble beginnings as a crack dealer in Moncks Corner, South Carolina (population 7,885) to become a television personality, radio presenter, podcaster, and NYT best-selling author.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about what transformed Lenard McKelvey into Charlamagne Tha God, how Charlamagne went from selling crack in a small town to becoming a multimedia juggernaut, why the moment you think you can’t transcend your circumstances — whatever they may be — is the moment you won’t, how Charlamagne reframed his background to become an advantage rather than a hindrance, why it’s important not to live someone else’s expectations — and how to figure out when expectations are actually your own, and lots more. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [Note: this is a previously broadcast episode from the vault. For our most recent interview with Charlamagne, check out Episode 171: Charlamagne Tha God | Turning the Tables on Fear and Anxiety!]
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Thanks, Charlamagne Tha God!
If you enjoyed this session with Charlamagne Tha God, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne Tha God | Amazon
- The Breakfast Club | Power 105.1 FM
- The Brilliant Idiots | SoundCloud
- Charlamagne Tha God | Facebook
- Charlamagne Tha God | Instagram
- Charlamagne Tha God | Twitter
- Uncommon Sense Live | MTV
- Guy Code | MTV
- Robert Greene | Discovering the Laws of Human Nature | Jordan Harbinger
- From Niggas to Gods, Vol. I by Akil | Amazon
- From Niggas to Gods, Vol. II: Escaping “Niggativity” & Becoming God by Akil | Amazon
- Belly | Amazon
- Desus & Mero | Vice
- Zuri Hall | Facebook
- MTV Spin-Off Catfish Trolls to be Hosted by Charlamagne Tha God & Raymond Braun | Starcasm
- Charlamagne Tha God | Turning the Tables on Fear and Anxiety | Jordan Harbinger
Charlamagne Tha God | The Opportunities of Black Privilege (Episode 513)
Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:02] Charlamagne Tha God: We always say these profound things like, oh, I wanted to transcend my circumstances and I just wanted to be successful. But the truth of the matter is I was scared. I was scared to death. I was scared to be in jail. I was scared to be dead. I was scared to be broke sitting under the tree. And I think a lot of times we don't realize that fear is probably the fuel that motivates us to do 95 percent of everything that it is we do. I feel like people should live scared because living scared gives you a sense of urgency, purpose. You know what I'm saying? Like I think sometimes people get too comfortable. I think when you get to that point where you're not scared anymore, something's wrong.
[00:00:41] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts, entrepreneurs, spies, and psychologists, even the occasional Russian chess Grandmaster or rocket scientist or money-laundering expert. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:08] If you're new to the show or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about it, we've got episode starter packs, which are collections of your favorite episodes, organized by popular topics. This will help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started and find something you're interested in or to help somebody else get started with us as a show. And I always appreciate that.
[00:01:31] Today, one from the vault, we're talking with my friend Charlamagne Tha God. We'll get into why he's called that later on in the show if you're not familiar with him. Him and I met years ago because of Robert Greene. He first heard the Robert Greene episode that I did something like seven years ago. We've actually been around now for 14, 15 years. Just to give you an idea of the timeframe here. When I started actually getting serious about the show, something like seven, eight years ago, Charlamagne caught that, we got in touch, and we've been in touch ever since. He is a very, very popular radio show host with a nationally syndicated show and a very popular podcast as well.
[00:02:04] He wrote a couple of excellent books. One of which is called Black Privilege, which includes a lot of legit advice and detailing how he was able to take advantage of opportunities and become successful despite some humble beginnings, which we will go over here today as well. He used to sell crap, for God's sake. We're going to talk about how we broke out of the gravity of that situation and shifted into radio and entertainment instead of ending up under a tree or dead or in prison, we'll also discuss why Charlamagne thinks it's important not to live somebody else's expectations and how to figure out when expectations are actually your own. We'll also uncover how he reframed his upbringing to become an advantage instead of the other way around. There's a lot to this guy. There's an absolute ton in this episode.
[00:02:44] And if you're wondering how I managed to book all these great authors, thinkers, and creators every week, it's because of the network that I've built over time. I dug the well before I got thirsty, which is what I want to teach you in our course, it is free jordanharbinger.com/course. Most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course. They're in the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart, talented company where you belong. Now, here's Charlamagne Tha God.
[00:03:07] We got in touch after a long time because you heard the seventh anniversary special with Robert Greene.
[00:03:11] Charlamagne Tha God: Robert Greene, yeah.
[00:03:12] Jordan Harbinger: And your book Black Privilege was great. There's a lot of real advice in there, which I like. You've used the advice that you give. You don't find that in books, by celebrities, like ever, usually the bio is like, "I knew that by working hard and keeping my head down, I would eventually win." And it's never really accurate. So props to you for writing something people can actually use.
[00:03:34] Charlamagne Tha God: Yeah. I mean, I never considered myself a celebrity. That's number one. And number two, I think when you come from an area like I come from Moncks Corner, South Carolina, a rural area on a dirt road, or like a small town. When the beginnings are that humble, it's kind of hard to look at yourself as anything other than a kid who's making a living. That's what my mom always used to tell me. My mom says that to me right now. She goes, "Just be happy to be making a living." And that was just like my mindset. So, you know, I guess the advice I give is just practical advice because I'm just a kid who came from a dirt road in Moncks Corner, South Carolina who was just out here making a living.
[00:04:07] Jordan Harbinger: What was it like growing up? Like the place, you're describing sounds like a really small town.
[00:04:12] Charlamagne Tha God: It is. I mean, the funny thing is Moncks Corner was a small town that seemed like the biggest town in the world to me at the time. It just seemed like a place I didn't think I was going to be all my life but it just seemed like the big city. I know it may sound crazy. Like if I go to Manhattan or if I'm in LA, I still feel like I'm that kid on the dirt road, in that small town, because I became a man there. I didn't move to New York until 2006. Before that, I lived in Columbia, South Carolina, and I moved there in like 2004. So like my whole life into my 20s, I was living in this town, Moncks Corner, South Carolina. So it's just a country place, it's a dirt road. It's deer, it's, you know, raccoon. There's a place where if you work at the factory, you got a job. Once the factory closed, you just got to go find work its country. I don't know any other way to describe it.
[00:05:01] Jordan Harbinger: You had a little experience selling some crack back then too.
[00:05:05] Charlamagne Tha God: I was a small-time crack dealer. Like I was a guy who sold quarter spoons. If you know quarter spoons, there's seven grams of crack and you're supposed to make a hundred dollars off each gram. You spend like $20 to $50 and you're supposed to make $500, $600 back selling 20s.
[00:05:19] Jordan Harbinger: People wonder why you call yourself Charlamagne Tha God. It has to do with the brass knuckles and the crack, right?
[00:05:24] Charlamagne Tha God: No.
[00:05:25] Jordan Harbinger: No?
[00:05:25] Charlamagne Tha God: No. Sort of, kind of like with the crack because I used to always call myself, Charlie or Charles. We used to have this crew called the Infamous Buddhaheads. So I would say my name was Charlie Chronic and like my homeboy would be Matthew Marijuana and my other homeboy would be [Ichabodism]. And then like when I used to hustle, when the fiends would roll up, I'd have like a hoodie on and like a mask over my face. And I would say my name was Charles because I'm from a small town. So if I was to say my real name or they would see me, they'd be like, "Oh, that's Larry's son, that's Julie's son." So I would just say my name was Charles, so that for whatever reason — I don't even know why I picked that name, Charles. So it was always Charles or Charlie.
[00:05:59] And then I was reading a history of booking night school and it said Charlemagne was French for Charles the Great. And so I was just like, oh, that's a cool last name Charlemagne but I just spelled it wrong. I supposed to do it as I pronounced it instead of C-H-A-R-L-E, it was C-H-A-R-L-A. And then like Tha God, is just, you know, I was studying 5 percent teachings where they teach you that the black man is God. So really my name makes no sense because it's Charlamagne the great the God. But that's what happens when you pick names when you're 17 and then they sound cool and they stick with you forever.
[00:06:25] Jordan Harbinger: And you stick with it, yeah. So Charlamagne Tha God definitely beats your rap name, which is Dizzy Van Winkle. Do you still use that?
[00:06:30] Charlamagne Tha God: No, that was another dumb ass name that I just picked up when I was high all the damn time. Because for whatever reason, I would listen to people when they told me like I was crazy. So I was looking up different words for crazy. And dizzy was one of them. And then I like was always intrigued about the story of Rip Van Winkle because he just went to sleep and like slept for mad long and then he woke up. And then, so he was like me, I was like, I'm Dizzy Van Winkle. I've been sleeping for mad long. Now, I'm woke—
[00:06:54] Jordan Harbinger: Woke, yeah.
[00:06:55] Charlamagne Tha God: But I'm mentally confused. It makes no f*cking sense. Yeah. When you're a kid and you're high as hell, it sounds like it could be something like, oh, that's so fake deep. When you're 15, 16, and you telling somebody that they're like, "Yo, woke!" especially when they just as high as you.
[00:07:09] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. That's probably a requirement. But how did you break out of the gravity of the situation? You're in Moncks Corner, people are under a tree, like you say in the book, how did you break free of that gravity? I mean, you could have ended up in that orbit and ended up under a tree too.
[00:07:23] Charlamagne Tha God: I was thinking about this the other day. My father would always tell me that if you don't change your lifestyle, you're going to end up in jail, dead, or broke sitting under the tree somewhere. So of course, I just learned from experience because I was looking around and I was seeing people around me actually going into prison and people around me going to jail all the time, people around me getting killed. I was going to jail. My older cousins, who I looked up to and just people, I knew it from the community that I looked up to was literally just sitting under the tree, doing nothing with themselves. So that became scary to me.
[00:07:50] I realized that I just want it to be something. So in order to change my life, I had to change my lifestyle, but we always say these profound things like, "Ooh, I wanted to transcend my circumstances and I just wanted to be successful." But the truth of the matter is I was scared. I was scared to death. I was scared to be in jail. I was scared to be dead. I was scared to be broke sitting under the tree. And I think a lot of times we don't realize that fear is probably the fuel that motivates us to do 95 percent of everything that it is we do. Like we think we're being fearless, but the truth to the matter is we're scared.
[00:08:22] And you should be, I feel like people should live scared because living scared gives you a sense of urgency. You know what I'm saying? Living scared gives you a sense of purpose. You know what I'm saying? Like I think sometimes people get too comfortable and when they get comfortable, they don't have any fear no more because they just feel like, "Oh, I'm good. I can kick my feet up. I can just coast through this thing called life." I think when you get to that point where you're not scared anymore, something's wrong.
[00:08:46] Jordan Harbinger: You have to have that fire lit. Otherwise, you're going to be hungry.
[00:08:49] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely fear is the fuel to that fire to me.
[00:08:53] Jordan Harbinger: And you write about this in Black Privilege as well. Nobody's really a victim of circumstance in life, right? You can always recreate that no matter how you were raised.
[00:09:01] Charlamagne Tha God: I think you can be a victim of circumstance, but I think that you don't have to remain a victim of circumstance. Nobody wants to be a victim. You know what I'm saying? Some people are just born into poverty. Some people are just born into a family where both parents are drug addicts. Some people are just born in the hood. Some people are just born in the projects, but you don't have to remain there. Yeah, you can be a victim of circumstance, but you don't have to remain a victim of that circumstance forever. You can transcend your circumstances. I don't give a f*ck. I don't care what your race is. I don't care what your gender is. I don't care what your sexuality is. You can transcend your circumstances if you want to. The moment you think you can't is the moment you won't.
[00:09:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You can kind of decide whether or not you're going to stay there.
[00:09:42] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely.
[00:09:43] Jordan Harbinger: By inaction.
[00:09:44] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely. Like, I don't think you should be reduced by your circumstance. That's why I think like people who are from the hood, from the ghetto, or just from any poor and disenfranchised situation, they ended up having these larger-than-life lives. Because if you don't choose to be reduced by your circumstances, in your mind, you're just going to be large because of your circumstances. Your mindset is going to be, "I'm not staying here. I'm going to find a way to get out of this situation. I am bigger than this situation." Like if you don't choose to be reduced by them — if you're not going to be an Ant-Man, you're going to be a Giant Man.
[00:10:17] Jordan Harbinger: Do you think that finding things to read outside your own personal experience was key to that? Because right now, you're saying like, okay, visualize something bigger, get your mind wrapped around something bigger than where you are now. But if you don't have any experience with that at all, where do you get it? Right? How do you even know there's something bigger out there?
[00:10:32] Charlamagne Tha God: Yeah, for me, it was music and books. My mother was an English teacher, so she would always tell me to read things that don't pertain to me. She would keep a book in my face and she was a Jehovah's Witness. So I'd be reading all the literature from there. I'd be reading the Bible and then it was hip hop music. Like, you know, I'm listening to these people talking about these places, that sounds so dope. I'm hearing Tupac saying live and die in LA. I'd never been to LA, but he said, it's the place to be. It sounds fly as f*ck. And it must be because all of these dope people are coming from this area. You know what I'm saying? Same thing with New York. I didn't know what Shaolin was. You know what I mean? It just sounded like the greatest place in the world because Wu-Tang was from there. Then you moved to New York and realized that New Yorkers don't even like Staten Islands. It's just like music and books that helped me to transcend my circumstances and just realized that it was a bigger, broader world out there.
[00:11:18] Jordan Harbinger: Are you still reaching out and grabbing experiences that are outside your personal experience?
[00:11:22] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely. Even more so now, because I get to see more of the world. I get to travel. I'm doing speaking engagements in different places.
[00:11:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:11:29] Charlamagne Tha God: I'm going over to London to do the podcast, The Brilliant Idiots. I'm traveling all around. So it's like I'm open to that. I got a principle in my book called, "Give people the credit they deserve for being stupid," including yourself because the know-it-all knows nothing. And I say you should always remain open to new experiences and new people because that's how you learn. Growth is a constant thing that never stops until you die as far as we know. Knowledge is infinite. I can constantly learn new things and unlearn bullsh*t that I may have always held on to. So I was just like, I'm definitely always open to like new people, new places, new experiences. Like I love book recommendations, like always.
[00:12:08] Jordan Harbinger: So you get a lot of flack for doing really candid interviews, actually. It's gotten you fired four times.
[00:12:15] Charlamagne Tha God: Yeah. I don't know if the interview, well, what got me fired four times, just stuff I do on the radio, being candid on the radio. I remember one time I got fired because one of the program directors said that I told a caller to suck my big black dick on the air. And I'm like, I would never say that number one, because I never described my dick as big. Number two, I would say something a little bit more wittier than just suck my big black dick. You know what I'm saying?
[00:12:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it doesn't sound original.
[00:12:38] Charlamagne Tha God: Yeah. So it was just like, I got fired for that. But what I've come to realize is a lot of times when I was getting fired, it simply was just the radio game. That's just the business. You know what I'm saying? People get fired and I never was one of those people who wanted to compromise because I don't see the benefit of the joy in getting on the radio and just doing time and temperature and, you know, announcing what the next song is. Like. I didn't want to do that. I like giving my opinion. I like starting conversations, having conversations.
[00:13:05] Jordan Harbinger: You've come super far, especially — even compared to other people in radio for the age you are. You've gotten fired four times, you're four times further, along than half the personalities in radio. Who gets fired four times and doesn't quit? Why didn't you quit?
[00:13:18] Charlamagne Tha God: I didn't have a backup plan.
[00:13:20] Jordan Harbinger: You didn't have a backup plan?
[00:13:21] Charlamagne Tha God: There was no plan B. I didn't go to college. I don't have a degree. I don't have a trade that I can go say, "You know what? Instead of radio, I'm going to go be a welder. Instead of doing radio, I'm going to go try to get this business degree popping." Like I didn't have no other choice. That's all I really knew how to do as far as like corporate America and like something that can actually make me money, like a job, job. Like, I didn't know how to do anything else. That's always been my gift when it comes to radio. I was like, people were like, "Oh, you don't sound like a radio personality." Because I'm not. Like I was really coming in, fresh off the streets in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. And being that I didn't know how to do radio, I just talked. I would just be me. I get on th e radio and talk about, "Ah, I don't like that song. I don't like this artist." I get regular conversation answering phone calls and just talking to people, kicking it with them.
[00:14:06] I remember what the program director telling me one time, "Yo, you're not supposed to have this much of an opinion." Said who? I didn't know that. That's why I was such a breath of fresh air. When I heard Howard Stern, I heard Wendy Williams and Star and Buc Wild, and got introduced to PD Green. Like these people got personality. When I was listening to Tom Joyner in the morning or Doug Banks, I'm like these people got personalities. Like who said you can't have an opinion on the radio? These people are expressing their opinion.
[00:14:27] Jordan Harbinger: That essentially is the only thing that makes a person on the radio unique is the personality. And the old way of doing things is to get rid of all that and do — what is it? Time, temperature, and traffic. Are those the three things?
[00:14:38] Charlamagne Tha God: Yeah, time, temperature, traffic, announced the next song.
[00:14:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:14:42] Charlamagne Tha God: Hey, it's that new Kendrick Lamar's Be Humble. Time is 7:32. The temperature is 56 degrees and you're listening to Z93 Jamz in Charleston, South Carolina.
[00:14:51] Jordan Harbinger: Basically anybody can do that.
[00:14:52] Charlamagne Tha God: Anybody can f*cking do that. There's no skill set to that. You know what I'm saying? Like contrary to people would probably believe, having a personality of the town and being able to communicate that personality via a microphone or via television is an extreme talent and everybody cannot do it. Trust me I know.
[00:15:09] I got a show on MTV called Uncommon Sense, and my idea for that show was to have a bunch of the social media personalities as panelists on the show. Like everybody always uses comedians and different celebrities to be panelists. I want to use these people that are so funny on social media and we auditioned like hundred-plus kids. Nothing.
[00:15:29] Jordan Harbinger: Because they're only funny on social media.
[00:15:31] Charlamagne Tha God: They're only funny on social media. They don't even have to communicate in person. They can't even look you in the eye and have a conversation. They talking whispered. You know what I'm saying? Like they don't have it. They're not quick, I guess, easy to like be funny when you got time, they actually send out a tweet or be funny when you got time to think of a meme.
[00:15:46] Jordan Harbinger: Your writing team is sitting in there, like googling relevant stuff. How do you audition for things like that? I feel like I would crush something like that. Maybe I'm 10 years too old for something like that.
[00:15:56] Charlamagne Tha God: Nah, I think we're at a point in time right now where a POV is so important. It doesn't matter what your age is. You look at guys like Cali. Cali is 40-plus years old. You know what I'm saying? Ric Ross is 40-plus years old, but they just know how to communicate in a way to where everybody can relate to them.
[00:16:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:16:12] Charlamagne Tha God: You know what I'm saying? I think that's just what it's really about. Like, it's just about knowing how to communicate with people.
[00:16:18] Jordan Harbinger: How much of your personality that you have now on radio and television is something that you developed when you were younger before any media and how much of it do you think you've worked on and honed to be presented in the media?
[00:16:32] Charlamagne Tha God: My abilities that I display on the radio, I really started displaying in sixth, seventh grade. It's sort of a defense mechanism. Once again, I was scared. I was getting bullied. You know what I mean? I talk about it in the book. I was getting bullied by my older cousins. Like I was just smart kid that was in the small classes. Like my older cousins or cousins that were my age. They were like, "Nah, bro, you Larry's son. You supposed to be over here with us." So I was afraid. So I kind of like just started like cracking jokes and saying what's on my mind before everybody else or being self-deprecating saying things about myself, making jokes about myself before anybody else would. That was kind of like I was doing it out of fear. So it's just like on the radio, it was kind of like the same thing because that's what I'm comfortable with. I'm comfortable with just expressing myself, being self-deprecating, cracking jokes on people, cracking jokes on myself. I'm used to that. That's what makes me comfortable. So I feel like I developed it early.
[00:17:25] Jordan Harbinger: Is the cracking jokes on yourself, that's like the 8 Mile theory where you're like, "I'm going to take all the ammo that they got against me, drag it out, take the wind out of the sail.
[00:17:33] Charlamagne Tha God: That's one of my principles is live your truth. So nobody can use your truth against you. It is the Eminem and 8 Mile theory. And Eminem and 8 Mile theory is like at the end of 8 Mile, B-Rabbit said a freestyle about himself to where Papa Doc couldn't even respond. Papa Doc didn't have anything else to say. He was like stuck. And that's what happens when you live your truth. When you live your truth, nobody can't use it against you. And that's just the type of person I am. Like, you know how they always say, "Your true character is the person you are when nobody else is looking." I like to say the things that I don't even have to tell people, like things that happened to me. That I wouldn't have to say because I'm not hiding from any of it. You know what I'm saying? And I'm not afraid to talk about any of it because I'm not putting on a character. I am who I am. So I just feel like that's the best way to be, man. Just live your truth and nobody can use your truth against you.
[00:18:24] Jordan Harbinger: You got a big mouth but also big ears, which is what you wrote. What does that mean? Why is that valuable?
[00:18:29] Charlamagne Tha God: I'm a better listener than I am a talker. And it's valuable because if you do interviews, if you're the type of person to interview someone, you have to listen to your guests. Like I go into interviews with 10 prepared questions. You know what I'm saying? Always, always got like 10 things I know I want to ask this person, just 10 things as a fan. Like we had 2 Chainz on the other day and I liked his album, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. So I had questions for him about different things, different elements I heard in the album. I had those.
[00:18:55] But being that I'm listening to the things that he's saying I might not even get to those questions until like 15, 20 minutes into the interview. I go where the conversation goes. I'm listening to him because I don't know what's on this brother's mind this morning. This brother might have some other things he wants to talk about or we'll get to the music, but let me see where his mind is at first. You know, that's why a lot of times the first thing I said, how are you doing? How are you?
[00:19:17] Jordan Harbinger: And then actually listen to the answer.
[00:19:18] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely listen to the answer. You got to be a great listener in order to be a great speaker, be a great interview.
[00:19:25] Jordan Harbinger: You've been married for how long?
[00:19:26] Charlamagne Tha God: I've been married. It'll be three years this year, but I've been with my wife since 1998.
[00:19:30] Jordan Harbinger: The listening part comes into play in the relationship element as well. I would imagine.
[00:19:35] Charlamagne Tha God: Oh, absolutely. I mean the problems start when you're not listening. You're too into yourself. That's why you have to listen to your partner because a lot of times you're not listening to your partner and when you're not listening, you're not communicating or she's talking to you and you're not really paying attention. Next thing you know, your relationship is in shambles and you're sitting there like, "Ooh, what happened? I didn't know you were upset. Like, I didn't know. You didn't like this about me. I didn't know that you had a problem with this." "You know why? Because you weren't listening to me motherf*cker."
[00:20:01] Jordan Harbinger: It gets out of control fast.
[00:20:03] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely. So listening is key to any relationship.
[00:20:08] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Charlamagne Tha God. We'll be right back.
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[00:22:42] Jordan Harbinger: Now, back to Charlamagne Tha God on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:22:47] How long have you been on the bestseller list now?
[00:22:49] Charlamagne Tha God: The book came out April 18th and it spent seven, eight weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list.
[00:22:55] Jordan Harbinger: This is one of those books that I highly recommend, not just because you're on the show, but because like I said, advice from people who've applied it and then turned around and thought about it and then wrote it down is more useful than somebody whose job it is just to give advice that they've never used or that they've never actually tested. A lot of it is cool and counterintuitive, like one of the things that were early on in Black Privilege was f*ck your dreams. And I was like, "Wait, what?" And I had to hit rewind, which is one reason why you probably wrote that like that. Explain that. What does that mean?
[00:23:23] Charlamagne Tha God: F*ck your dreams when they're not your dream. You know, a lot of times when you're growing up in the hood as an African-American, the people you see that are successful, who look like you are in entertainment, are athletic. So everybody wants to be a rapper or a singer, or they want to be the next LeBron James or Steph Curry or Michael Jordan. It's like, yo, man, that's not your dream. That's just something you see working for somebody else. And I feel like we lost a whole generation of people to the rap game. Like of course, you got the people who are, I guess, meant to do it so they got it done. Or the people who just worked hard enough and got a record to go. So now, they're getting show money or whatever. So you look at them as successful, but 95 percent of would that aspire to be those things aren't going to make it. So like for me, it's like, yo, go find out what it is that God really wants you to do. What's your destiny? Even if you don't believe in God, man. I just like to believe in this analogy that there's something bigger than us, right? And that's something bigger than us has given everybody on this planet. Something that can change the circumstances of their life that can bring in some money or that can just make them happy.
[00:24:31] Because success to me is subjective. I talk about that in a second, but it's like imagine it's Christmas and everybody in the world had something under the tree. That one thing that can change your whole situation. Man, some people going to find it before others. Some people are going to get frustrated that they can't find theirs and give up. Some people are going to get jealous and envious of the person that found theirs before them. Like it's just all types of scenarios that can stop you from finding what it is that you're good at. And to me, that's what you should be pursuing. You should be in pursuit of that dream that can cause you to be happy.
[00:25:02] I love Kid Cudi's song Pursuit of Happiness, but it's true. Like, you know, happiness to me is what we're all really pursuing at the end of the day. And it was probably a happy garbage man. It's literally probably—
[00:25:12] Jordan Harbinger: I guarantee you there is.
[00:25:13]Charlamagne Tha God: I guarantee you it is. There's a kid that all his life he watched the garbage man come through his hood and pick up the garbage and said, "He looked like he'd have a mad fun on that truck. That's what I want to do.| And he went and did it and he's happy. And that's why I say success is subjective because success is just what makes you happy. Like we got this thing in America where we equate success with celebrity or we equate success with money. That's not always the case. Success is just what makes you happy. Like if you wake up in the morning and you got a job that makes 30 grand a year, but your wife is happy and your kid is happy and you're able to provide, and you're happy with that. That's success. Pursuit of happiness is what the real dream is. All that other stuff, f*ck your dreams.
[00:25:53] Jordan Harbinger: How can we tell if somebody is telling us f*ck your dreams, because they want you to focus on what you're good at, which is like what you're telling us right now or what you might be good at versus telling you to give up because they already gave up on their dreams.
[00:26:05] Charlamagne Tha God: Well, you just got to pay attention. Because you got to understand that there is toxic energy. I talk in the book about — I just got my internship with radio and I think I had just started getting on the air part time and I was working at this record label called Never So Deep Records, which was subsidiary of MCA, but it was based out of South Carolina. And I was just talking about all of this and how all the great things I'm going to do in the future. And I remember my cousin all came in the kitchen and goes, "You know, you shouldn't set your goal so high because when you do and you don't achieve them, you're going to be disappointed." And I remember looking at her and saying, "That's the stupidest sh*t I ever heard in my motherf*cking life."
[00:26:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:38] Charlamagne Tha God: That is the dumbest advice I ever heard because to me, she was basically telling me, "F*ck your dreams," in a negative way. You know what I'm saying? I'm not telling you to f*ck your dreams when I'm telling you is f*ck your dreams when they're not your dreams. Like you got to make sure. This is what you want to do. You got to make sure that this is what is going to make you happy when you wake up every day for the rest of your life.
[00:27:01] Jordan Harbinger: One way to tell for me was when I became an attorney was like, am I looking forward to the day to day of being a lawyer? Or am I looking forward to being able to tell people I'm a lawyer, have expensive sh*t?"
[00:27:11] Charlamagne Tha God: Yeah.
[00:27:11] Jordan Harbinger: That was how I knew it wasn't for me, because I was like, I don't care about the job at all. Anything that got me to those other steps would be great. Now, doing what I do now. I care much more about doing what we're doing right now than I do. Like, "Hmm, what kind of car can I get? Because I got money now." I don't care about that stuff as much.
[00:27:26] Charlamagne Tha God: I love the day to day of radio. I am a radio guy through and through. I am a radio personality. I care about the culture of radio. This is something that I would listen to radio when I was a kid. And then after I finished listening to radio and got actually involved in radio as an intern, I knew from the first day I was in there as an intern, I love this and I love every aspect of it. So that's the other thing. That's why I have another chapter in my book called "Put the Weed in the Bag." Putting the weed in the bag is just about respecting the process.
[00:27:53] Have you ever see the movie Belly? Great movie. It should have won an Oscar. You know, DMX and Nas are sitting at the table and these two young kids sitting by them. And the two young kids are helping him bag up the weed. And so the two young kids are like, "Yo, f*ck school. I want to go out there and get money with y'all." And DMX is like, "Man, shut the f*ck up and put the weed in the bag first." So he's basically saying that there is a process, there's steps to going out there and hitting the streets and getting the money. First, you got to bag up. So you got to enjoy that process.
[00:28:20] I enjoyed the process of even becoming a radio personality. I used to be an intern. Then I worked in the promotions department. I drove the station vehicles. I used to put the signage up for the radio stations at different remote. I did part time. Then I did full time. Then I had to go back to doing part time at different stations. I worked for free for a year and a half for Wendy Williams. Like I just enjoy radio that much. You know what I'm saying?
[00:28:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:28:45] Charlamagne Tha God: If you don't enjoy whatever it is you're getting involved in that much, where you know you would love the process of becoming whatever it is that you're trying to become, don't get involved.
[00:28:53] Jordan Harbinger: I think a lot of people get caught up looking at the results instead of the process like I did with, for example. I think now, especially a lot of people don't think they're going anywhere until the check comes, right?
[00:29:04] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely.
[00:29:04] Jordan Harbinger: They're like, "Well, this is all BS, putting in my time. I'm just going to mail it in. I'm a sleepwalk through it because then when I start getting a check, then I'm going to care." it doesn't work like that.
[00:29:13] Charlamagne Tha God: Dumbest logic in the world. If you got to wait until you get a check to care, you really don't care. And you know, that's why I always tell these kids, man, a lot of them don't recognize opportunity unless there's a paycheck attached to it. I worked for Wendy Williams for a year and a half for free. The reason I worked for Wendy Williams for a year and a half for free is because previously I was doing radio at Hot 103.9 in Columbia, South Carolina. I was there for like three, four years. I was one of the greatest radio experiences I've ever had.
[00:29:36] Columbia was one of those hubs where matte artists used to come through all the time. Like everybody came to Columbia and that's how I got my interview skills because I'd be interviewing these guys, same exact way. Probably worse back then because I was younger and a little more wild, a little more reckless. I was a little naive to the game too. So when you're naive to the game, you know, you believe all the World Star Hip Hop conspiracy theories and all the bullsh*t that you see about these artists. So you kind of have that chip on your shoulder. These artists walk in the room and you're already on them like, "You fake motherf*cker. I know you sold your soul to get in this position."
[00:30:07] When I was working at Hot 103.9, I was only making like seven, eight dollars an hour there but Wendy was syndicated there. Being that she was syndicated on that station, she used to come down to the market. Me and my guys would just show her mad love, so I got on her radar like that, her and her husband's radar. When they invited me to come to this party one time in New York, I went up to the party and in the party, she asked me to come on her show the next day. I came on the show the next day. And she offered me a job that night — her husband did. Her husband offered me the job that night. Her husband was like, "Yo, we can't pay you but we can give you a place to stay."
[00:30:36] I was all for it because number one, I was on six days a week in Columbia, but I was making like seven, eight dollars an hour. And I had got demoted to one day a week because I got sued by this club in Columbia, South Carolina. And the club sued me because there's this rumor that this guy was putting date rape drugs in girls' drinks, but nobody could ever prove it. So I took the link to that and put it up on my MySpace page and was like, "Yo, we need to be aware of what's going on in this club that we frequent, because there's always been these rumors. Now, you have some conformation."
[00:31:04] So these guys sued me, man, and the radio station settled for like $2,000. And they took me from six days a week to one day a week. So I would have took that opportunity even if I was on in Columbia six days a week, just because that's Wendy Williams and it's New York City—
[00:31:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:31:18] Charlamagne Tha God: —the number one radio market. I want to test my radio chops here. If you make it here and radio, you make it. I took that gig because I recognized the opportunity, even though it wasn't a paycheck attached to it. That goes back to the whole f*ck-your-dreams thing. When you're doing what you're supposed to do, when you're doing what it is the universe wants you to do — when I talk about finding that gift under the tree, that can change your life and change other people's lives around you, when you're doing what it is you're supposed to be doing, you're going to have that kind of impact. Period.
[00:31:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:31:47] Charlamagne Tha God: It don't have to just be radio. It could be any of that. It could be a doctor. A guy that was destined to be a doctor, you're going to save lives. You're going to make that kind of impact. Like the reason, I feel like I have this success that I do is because thank God I found what it is I'm supposed to be doing. You know what I'm saying? So it just makes sense. It's not a square peg in a round hole.
[00:32:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, exactly. And you stayed open to new ideas, mentors from Wendy Williams and things like that. How do you stay open when so many people can? It seems like once we turn 30 or 25 or 35, whatever, we just kind of wall off and we're like, "I know everything now. I don't need anybody telling me what to do." Sam Roberts was telling me these people go, "How do I get in the radio business?" And then he starts talking and they're like, "What?" And their eyes glaze over. And they started looking up at the sky or their phone. You got to get that all the time.
[00:32:34] Charlamagne Tha God: Yeah. I mean, listen, man, as soon as you feel like you know everything, the clock starts ticking. You're about to have an expiration date. I'm getting older. Like I'm not into this. I'm not in the 90 percent of what's going on out here in this hip hop culture, I'm not in tune with the younger artists, the way I probably was 10 years ago. So that's why you keep young people around you. I'd be like, "Yo, so what's up with this person? What's up with that person? Who's hot out here—?" Guess what? I listened to some of that stuff. That's hot out here right now and it's just not for me. It's not my thing. And I'm fine with that. You know I'm fine with that because you have Jay-Z still dropping music. You have guys that are my age or closer to my age, the 2 Chainz, Rick Ross. There's something out here, for everybody.
[00:33:15] And that's what keeps me going and keeps me motivated. And the fact that I'm not afraid to express that I'm growing with my listeners every day. You know what I'm saying? Like people, I remember Charlamagne when he was on Wendy Williams. Some people remember me when I was in South Carolina. Now, they can look online and see stupid sh*t like, "Charlamagne Tha God net worth isn't true." You know what I mean? Or maybe it is. I don't know what net worth is, to be honest with you. The point of that is they see the growth. They see the evolution. They see New York Times bestselling author. They see me executive producing all of these various TV shows and having all these TV shows and being on shows like The View and Dr. Oz. Like they see me growing, they see me evolving. I'm not afraid to have that journey.
[00:33:52] First of all, I can't front for them because they'd seen how the fool was made, so to speak. They've seen me literally come up. I grew up in the age of transparency. I grew up in front of people, like literally. They've seen my physical changes, like, "Oh, Charlamagne, you're getting buff. Charlamagne, what you doing to your skin? Are you bleaching?" They've seen all of that. So I can't front for them in no way, shape, or form. So I'm not afraid to have that journey. I'm not afraid to be honest, I'm not afraid to grow, I'm not afraid to evolve. And I feel like that will keep me around as long as I want to be around.
[00:34:22] Jordan Harbinger: You force yourself to believe that you have the privilege of being black, you can create your own opportunities, your words in the book. What do you do in your face with contradictory evidence? Like discrimination or institutionalized discrimination or just people being assh*les and throwing that stuff in front of your face. How can you rationalize the belief that you have privileged with the evidence to the contrary?
[00:34:42] Charlamagne Tha God: Well, the belief that I have is that it is a privilege to be black. So black privilege is a play on words. I feel like it's a privilege to be black. I feel like — even with everything you just said. Like, I feel like I still wouldn't want to be anything else. Like if I had to come back and do it all over again, knowing exactly what I know now, I would still choose to come back and be a black man because I just feel like we're that great. I'll be totally honest with you.
[00:35:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:07] Charlamagne Tha God: I think it's a good thing to love the skin that you're in, to love what you are, and that goes for anybody. I know people hear the title Black Privilege like, "Oh, that's a book about black stuff." No, it's a book about human stuff. Number one is a privilege to be alive. When your father is having sex with your mother and he busted off that nut, it's like 400 sperm cells and one sperm cell gets to the ovary or the egg and created you. So it is a privilege to breathe. It is a privilege to be a human being. You could have been a cockroach—
[00:35:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:36] Charlamagne Tha God: You know what I'm saying? But you're a human being. So it's a privilege to be alive. Now, what are you? You're a woman, a white man, you're an Asian man, whatever. Whatever it is, you embrace it. You know what I'm saying? Tell God, "Thank you for making me that." But you know, when it just comes to my blackness, I do truly feel like we are a divine people. Not saying that everybody else isn't divine, but you know, I just feel like when you're talking about black privilege, you're talking about something divine. I feel like we tap into a system that helps us to thrive and survive in this country. In spite of everything that's been thrown at us.
[00:36:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You have the in spite of, on lock in the book as well. Sh*t is the best fertilizer.
[00:36:14] Charlamagne Tha God: Sh*t is the best fertilizer, baby.
[00:36:15] Jordan Harbinger: What does that mean to you?
[00:36:17] Charlamagne Tha God: It means that, like I said earlier, when you come from the hood or you come from the projects, you come from the gutter, you come from the ghetto, you come from these sh*t areas. The reason such great things grow from these places is because if you don't choose to be reduced by your circumstances, you will be larger than life. I love Marvel. I'm a Marvel head. I love Marvel comic books. If you remember the last Avengers movie, Ant-Man could turn to Giant Man. When you let your circumstances reduce you, you're Ant-Man. When you say, "No, I'm not going to be held back by my circumstances. I'm going to transcend my circumstances. I don't believe in these limitations. I'm going to get up out of this situation," you become Giant Man. That's just the only way to think that's the only way to get up out of your circumstances.
[00:36:57] So I feel like that sh*t that we constantly have thrown on us is what makes us grow. It will make us evolve like that is the black existence. The reason that it's such a big deal when you see first black, anything. You know what I mean?
[00:37:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:37:10] Charlamagne Tha God: It don't matter what it is.
[00:37:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:37:11] Charlamagne Tha God: President, Grammy winner in this category, Oscar winner in this — wherever it is, doctor — it's always such a big deal because America knows the conditions we came from. America knows. They know what black people have been through in this country. So being that they know that they got salute and acknowledge it whenever we do reach a certain height or reach a certain level.
[00:37:32] Jordan Harbinger: One of the tips that you give or tips is sort of a light word, but one of the principles you give is, look, stop complaining about the geographical space and where you're at physically start focusing on your mental space and where your head is at. What's the first step in that type of process for you?
[00:37:47] Charlamagne Tha God: Love, love with thyself, realizing that your first, last, and best love is self-love. Realizing that you do control your own destiny in a way like you know, we all know the circumstances that we've been born into, but it is different ways that you can transcend those circumstances. First of all, you got to believe that you can do it. That's why I say love because believing that you can do it, it's basically saying that you're worthy of more. You know what I'm saying? If you don't love yourself, you're not going to feel like you're worthy of more. You know what I mean? If you don't believe in yourself, you're not going to feel like you're worthy of more. So I feel like you have to love yourself first and foremost. Once you love yourself, you will believe in yourself and believe in your abilities to be better. So the first step I believe is love, your first, last, and best love is always going to be self-love.
[00:38:35] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Charlamagne Tha God. We'll be right back.
[00:38:40] This episode is sponsored in part by Gallant. Gallant featured on ABC Shark Tank is a biotech company that saves your pets stem cells during their spay or neuter procedure, allowing you to treat your dog later in life for injuries and age-related illnesses, you might be thinking that stem cells are futuristic, right? Actually over the past decade, thousands of pets have been successfully treated with their own stem cells, improving the lives of dogs and cats suffering from allergic skin conditions, osteoarthritis, dry eye, orthopedic injuries, and more. I kind of, maybe, would like that for myself. There's even evidence that stem cells can help our loved ones live healthier and longer. The cells are harvested during your pet spay or neuter from the tissue that is normally just thrown away. Save their young, healthy stem cells with Gallant's patented non-invasive procedure. With storage plans that started only $45. You can give them access to potentially life-changing therapy.
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[00:41:05] Jordan Harbinger: Thanks so much for listening to and supporting the show. It means a lot to me that you listen. It means a lot to me that you support the advertisers and support those who support us. By the way, all those codes, those URLs, we put them all in one easy place. Go to jordanharbinger.com/deals. You don't have to memorize the promo codes. jordanharbinger.com/deals. Do consider supporting those who support us. And don't forget, we've got worksheets for today's episode. If you want some of the drills and exercises we talked about during the show, they're all in one easy place. The link to the worksheets is also in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Now, for the conclusion of our episode with Charlamagne Tha God.
[00:41:43] When you were younger and you were like drinking in school, obviously you didn't love yourself, you're trying to conform to the expectations of other people. Do you remember when that shift happened?
[00:41:52] Charlamagne Tha God: Yeah, absolutely, because I think about where my mindset was prior to that and my mindset prior to, you know, when I made the transition to being a fake thug was I didn't have any expectations for myself except for success. I'm going to be successful, doing something. I didn't know what it was going to be like, you know the typical stuff when you're young, firefighter, police officer — sh*t, I remember, you know, looking at my Uncle Henry, he was a UPS driver. God bless the dead. I remember thinking that was a fly gig. And then Biggie, he was like, "Yo, UPS is hiring." But when you actually go look at the UPS, sh*t, UPS is popping. Like the benefits for UPS and everything, you can make a good living, being a UPS man. So all of that was constantly on my mind. Like, I just knew I was going to be successful doing something.
[00:42:36] I didn't start feeling like I was going to lose in life until I made the wrong choice. And that's what I always say destiny is not a matter of chance, it's a matter of choice. When I started making poor choices and I was living a lifestyle that I know wasn't beneficial to me being successful. Like when I made the choice to sell crack, when I made a choice to start carrying guns, when made the choice to start drinking, when I made the choice to start smoking, when I made the choice to start hanging around the wrong crowd. I knew that anything bad that happened to me in that moment of my life, I caused it.
[00:43:09] I remember reading a book called From Niggas to Gods and it talked about destiny and making the right choices and how everything you do in your life today directly impacts what happens in your life tomorrow. And that just resonated with me so crazy. It was two quotes. It was that." Everything that happens in your life today affects what happens in your life tomorrow." "Smart people learn from their own mistakes. Wise people learn from the mistakes of others." Because I had those two things in my head plus my father telling me, "You're going to end up in jail, dead, or broke sitting under the tree." When I actually started seeing that around me, not just happening to me, what happened to people around me, I'm like, "Are you smart or are you wise? If you're smart, you're going to learn from your own mistakes. If you're wise, you're going to learn from the mistakes of others." I don't know what it's called when you learn from both, but I learned from both.
[00:43:49] Jordan Harbinger: This reminds me of something else that I'm pretty sure I got from your book as well from Black Privilege. "Never stump your own growth by dismissing something because it doesn't fit your own—"
[00:43:59] Charlamagne Tha God: It doesn't feel familiar to you.
[00:44:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:44:01] Charlamagne Tha God: Yeah, yeah. A lot of people won't accept new things based off what they believe, based off how they grew up based off what their present circumstances are. I'm a stern believer, when you learn new things, when you acquire new information, you may have to change your mind. That's just the way the world works. You know what I'm saying? Like, I'm not going to sit around and argue with you about something. And then when you present me with the facts of the matter, and I look at the facts of the matter and I'm like, "Oh, you're right." I'm just going to be like, "Oh, you're right." And I'm going to learn from that. And then I'm going to change my mind about whatever it is I thought I knew based off the new information that's presented. So I don't ever want to stump my growth by ignoring things that aren't familiar to me because that goes into my whole, the know it all knows.
[00:44:49] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It affects your ego somehow.
[00:44:51] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely.
[00:44:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:44:52] Charlamagne Tha God: I don't give a f*ck. You can learn something from a crack head if you listen — a crack head can tell you exactly what not to do.
[00:44:58] Jordan Harbinger: Right, exactly.
[00:44:58] Charlamagne Tha God: You know what I'm saying? A crack head can tell you what moves you should make to avoid being like him. You can learn from anybody if you're willing to listen.
[00:45:06] Jordan Harbinger: How do you catch yourself doing this? How do you catch yourself dismissing something that doesn't fit your experience? How do you know what's a trigger in your head that goes, "Man, I don't like that. Wait a minute. I shouldn't say that right now. I know I'm just doing that because I want to be right"?
[00:45:19] Charlamagne Tha God: Human beings, we hate being wrong.
[00:45:21] Jordan Harbinger: Even when you know you're doing it, it sucks being wrong.
[00:45:23] Charlamagne Tha God: But you got to ask yourself, do you want to be happy or do you want to be right? You can be happy or wrong. You know what I'm saying? And you could be not happy and think you're right. We've all been in arguments with people and we know we're not right, but we continue to argue, continue to argue. Next thing, you know, you're maybe name calling and calling somebody stupid. But actually, you're the stupid one, because you're just not willing to accept the fact that this person is right. You know what I'm saying? Like, it's perfectly fine to knowledge that somebody else's right. That's why I approach everything with a blank slate. You know what I'm saying? I don't go into any situation thinking I know it all. I'm an empty cup and I'm always willing to learn and I'm always willing to share information. And if I share some information and somebody goes, "That's actually not right. Like you're in the ballpark but this is really actually what it is." "Thank you. Thank you."
[00:46:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:46:10] Charlamagne Tha God: You know what I'm saying?
[00:46:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:46:11] Charlamagne Tha God: Thank you for getting me on the right path. Thank you for giving me the right information.
[00:46:15] Jordan Harbinger: I'm guessing you don't have the same friends now that you had when you were growing up and you probably would've had to cut some people out of your life throughout growing up, throughout showbiz and radio. And obviously in the book in Black Privilege, you also talk about not even hanging out with the same kids as before because they were getting you in trouble. When and why do you get rid of friends? Like, do you have a test for this? Do you have a formula for this?
[00:46:37] Charlamagne Tha God: I don't know if it's a test, but I think you either get rid of friends or the universe gets rid of friends for you. My wife's known me for like 15 years. I got cousins that I'm really close to. You know what I mean? My homeboy Frosty, like I met Frosty when I was in Columbia, South Carolina. I've been knowing Frosty for over a decade. Like that's my friend, friend to the end. A lot of people have fell by the wayside. My man [Jarelle], God bless the dead, rest in peace. You know, he got killed. So that was like a close friend of mine. Either you get rid of friends or the universe gets rid of friends for you.
[00:47:06] A lot of people aren't growing. A lot of people aren't evolving the way that you are evolving. You don't have nothing in common with people anymore. Like people are still doing things that aren't conducive to the lifestyle that you're living. Now. Some people are just negative. They've let life beat them up and no matter how much you tell them that, "Yo, you can change your circumstances too, or things can get better." They're looking at you like, "Oh, shut the f*ck up. You just said that because you quote-unquote made it, whatever, whatever," which I never truly believed. I still don't feel like I made it. I won't feel like I've made it until like I know my kids' kids are good. And I don't know if that's going to be financial or just leaving them something that I know that they can learn from two generations from now. Who knows? But it just happened.
[00:47:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You mentioned you monitor kind of the types of conversations you're getting into these people. What are you looking for in those conversations?
[00:47:53] Charlamagne Tha God: Conversations that can help both of us grow. Conversations that can help both of us evolve. In the book, I tell a story about how I had just started doing radio and I had a couple of friends who, well, I caught the rape charge because of something that they did. And it's just like, yo, I'm asking them over and over, did they touch this young lady? And they're like, "No." And I'm like, "Are you sure?" If you tell me the truth then I know what I'm facing and I know what I'm up against. But if you're telling me that it didn't, and I'm saying it didn't happen. And the police is saying, 'Well, we did a rape kit on her and something happened.' Then somebody is lying." You know what I'm saying? And I'm like, "Yo, don't lie. If you don't lie, then at least I know what — I already got arrested, bro. It's not like I'm going to go to the jail and say, 'Oh, they did it.'" You know what I mean? I just need to know what I'm facing. What's going on? And so people like that, I had to cut off. That's a wrap. Like we're not growing in the same way. We're not evolving in the same way. I just started doing radio, I could possibly lose my whole radio career based off you guys bullsh*tting and f*cking around and lying and doing things y'all, ain't got no business doing.
[00:48:52] Jordan Harbinger: You've got a great piece. And we'll wrap with this because I know we've been in the studio for a long time, helping others — if someone offers to help you, don't beat around the bush, tell them exactly what you want and take them up on their offer. And that's one of the smartest things that anyone can do in my opinion.
[00:49:07] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely. I do it all the time. TLC at that song, Ain't Too Proud to Beg.
[00:49:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:49:11] Charlamagne Tha God: I don't know if you want to call that begging but if you say something to me, I'm going to hold you to it. And you know, that's honestly how I've gotten a lot of things done. I remember the first time I ever met Wendy Williams, I was trying to give her mixtapes and I'm trying to give her parody songs. And she told me she was in Columbia, South Carolina, Hot 103.9's studio. She told me to get the f*ck out of her face with that mixed tape bullsh*t and take that mixed tape bullsh*t to her husband. I wasn't discouraged. Listened. "All right, where's your husband?" You know what I mean? "He's in that room over there." Okay, boom. I went and took it to her husband. You know what I'm saying? And her husband gave me his number and we communicated. When I met Wendy again, she told me to come on her show. She was in a party. She was drunk, but no, that's verbal. You told me to come on your show. "Hey, Wendy told me to come on our show today. Like what's up?" And I called a lot—
[00:49:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, yeah.
[00:49:54] Charlamagne Tha God: —to make sure that happened. I remember meeting Swizz Beatz. I talked about that in the book. Swizz is a giver. And I remember him saying to me, "You know if there's anything I can help you with, let me know." "Well, you don't say, Swizz. I just put out this compilation album of rappers from South Carolina, really trying to get one of these guys signed. What's up?" and I gave him the CD. I remember him emailing me back saying he liked this guy named Lil Ru's tone. And then he was like, "Yo, bro, bring him to me." You know what I'm saying? "Bringing him to me, I'm going to do a song with him. I'm gonna take you wherever you want to go." That's the type of person Swizz is. But I had to call a lot.
[00:50:23] Jordan Harbinger: That's an amazing offer.
[00:50:24] Charlamagne Tha God: But I had to call a lot. "Yo, what's up? Lil Ru's up here." "Hey, yo, Swizz, Ru is up here." And then finally Swizz, like, "Come to the studio." It took maybe a week. You know what I'm saying?
[00:50:33] Jordan Harbinger: That's not even that long, man. Some of this stuff could take two years.
[00:50:36] Charlamagne Tha God: But it was from the time he told me that to finally get Lil Ru up here, and then get him into the studio, it's probably was a three-week process. You know what I'm saying? But it got done. So all I'm simply saying is when somebody tells you, offers you some help, don't beat around the bush. Tell them exactly what it is you want. People insisted on getting that. I'm a man of my word. So if I give you my word and I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it. The only way I'm going to get really get it done is, hold me accountable for it. Hold me to it.
[00:51:00] Jordan Harbinger: I think some people are afraid to help others because they're afraid it's going to blow up in their face.
[00:51:04] Charlamagne Tha God: I'm afraid not to help others because I feel like it's going to blow up in my face. And what I mean by that is I don't want to be that guy that misses that next big media personality. I was too into my own sh*t or not willing to help others because when that person blows up, I'm going to be sitting there looking at them like that might be the person that takes me out. You know what I'm saying?
[00:51:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, yeah.
[00:51:23] Charlamagne Tha God: You know what I mean? Like that might be the person who has a grudge against me because I fronted on them back in the day. So now they're sh*tting on me and making me look less cool. I would rather be the person who helps that next guy up or helps that next girl up or helps that next guy or girl getting positioned. That's why I pick people up so much. People like to always say, I'm hating on people or coming at people. I like to celebrate. I like the pick people up. When they dope, I like to say they dope, when I'm a fan of what they're doing. I like to say I'm a fan of what they're doing. I love to retweet people. I love to see people have success. Like people that I've been watching for years and knowing like, "Yo, they got talent." And then you finally see it pay off.
[00:52:01] Right now, Tiffany Haddish is like somebody who I just think is so dope. I think she's super funny. She's smart. She's talented. Like that inspires me because I remember doing VH1 talking head shows with her 10 years ago and thinking, "Damn, she's funny." You know what I'm saying? But just watching her grow and evolve. And now she's got the movie coming out with Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Girls Trip. And I'm reading in Variety, they're like, "Yo, she's the star of the movie. She stole the movie." Like, that's dope to me because that's confirmation that I was right.
[00:52:30] Jordan Harbinger: You were right, yeah.
[00:52:31] Like, my guys, Desus and Mero, I remember Desus and Mero were just sitting in the offices at MTV and they couldn't figure out what to do with them. I'm like, "Let's put them on Uncommon Sense." You know what I mean? Like that was my show. And knowing these guys are funny and just good dudes and now watching them like blow up with their TV show on Vice. Sh*t like that is dope to me. Like, I love that. You know what I mean? I loved that part of the game. So I just want to be responsible for as much of that is possible.
[00:52:59] Jordan Harbinger: Bring other people up as much as possible. And you're never too big to help the next person out.
[00:53:03] Charlamagne Tha God: It don't hurt you to help.
[00:53:04] Jordan Harbinger: It never hurts you.
[00:53:05] Charlamagne Tha God: And the bigger you are, it's easier to help people out. Like the least, I can do is bring somebody on the Breakfast Club and help raise their profile and bring them the podcast.
[00:53:12] Jordan Harbinger: I accept that offer.
[00:53:15] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely.
[00:53:16] Jordan Harbinger: I love the book and I'm not just saying that because you're here.
[00:53:18] Charlamagne Tha God: Thank you. I got a book out, Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for like eight weeks.
[00:53:23] Jordan Harbinger: Our boy Ryan Holiday like the book too.
[00:53:25] Charlamagne Tha God: Oh, that's my guy, man. Salute to Ryan, Ryan is another one who I've developed a great relationship with Ryan based off the fact I read Ego is the Enemy.
[00:53:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, he's a great guy. He also helps other people out a lot. And it's no coincidence that people at the top of any game are always helping each other out and always bringing up new people because they don't see it as a threat. They see it as an addition—
[00:53:46] Charlamagne Tha God: Absolutely.
[00:53:46] Jordan Harbinger: —to the pot.
[00:53:47] Charlamagne Tha God: Like at the end of the day, it's one of those things that really makes you live forever. I want later on in life people to look at the Charlamagne Tha God family tree. Zuri, just always, was super dope to me. Super smart, super talented. She was at MTV. I wanted her to be my co-host on Uncommon Sense. She's shining. She's flourishing. I love being able to say, "I told y'all she was a motherf*cking star, man." I got a new show coming on MTV now called a Trolling. Basically, we were going around — all those little cartoon avis and people hiding behind file cabinets. Profile picks up, he's talking mad shit to you. Like we're going to get those people. And the guy who, my co-host, his name is Raymond Brown. Raymond is a star. You know what I'm saying? Raymond is a member of the LGBT community, young white kid. He's super smart, funny in his own way. And I just think America's going to love him.
[00:54:35] Jordan Harbinger: It's going to be fun to watch trolls, get there as though.
[00:54:37] Charlamagne Tha God: Exactly. Because I'm on these trolls ass, like you, pieces of sh*t, and I'm even sometimes relating to them because I'm a troll myself at times, Raymond is being Raymond and trying to talk his way through these people. And he's learning a lot about the world. Because there's certain people that I know from my world, and I'm like, "Raymond, there's no getting through to this person, but you're going to learn this the hard way." He's a star. It's just fun to work with new people and bring new people along on this amazing journey that we're on.
[00:55:04] Jordan Harbinger: Is there anything I haven't asked you that you want to make sure you deliver?
[00:55:06] Charlamagne Tha God: Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It is available wherever you buy books now. And Jordan, thank you for having me.
[00:55:12] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you, man.
[00:55:13] Charlamagne Tha God: Yes, sir.
[00:55:15] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's what you should check out next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:55:22] You believe human intelligence and AI will essentially be symbiotic in the future.
[00:55:27] Bryan Johnson: We haven't had the tools that actually allow us to be experiencing how these new tools and machine learning can help us in ways we care about the very most. And so these new tools of machine learning and brain interfaces will open up this new era of human improvement that we've never had before.
[00:55:46] Jordan Harbinger: You'd mentioned that the ability to co-evolve with AI is important. If humanity were to identify a singular thing to work on the thing that would demand the greatest minds of our generation, it's human intelligence. That's a big statement.
[00:55:58] Bryan Johnson: The way we are going to provide and create a thriving future is we have to increase the rate in which we adapt. Specifically, the fastest way to do that is our minds. Our brain tricks us into thinking that the reality we occupy right now is the only reality that exists. However, I think that could be a false assumption and we need to look back at that. For example, Homo erectus two million years ago that had very rudimentary language, didn't have abstract concepts like math or other, physics. Homo erectus did not have the imaginative capacity to imagine the stock exchange. And so we need to realize we are in the exact same position. We have no reason to believe we've reached this apex of reality construction. And to imagine that our reality could be entirely unrecognizable to us in 30, 40, 50 years, breaks our brains. We could and we may want to head in this evolutionary direction. The question is, can we replicate two million years of evolutionary advance with technology. And I don't know why we couldn't.
[00:57:03] To learn more about
[00:57:04] Jordan Harbinger: how our brains will eventually be able to interface with computers and other machines and about how we may quite literally become cyborgs, check out episode 223 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:57:17] I always loved talking to Charlamagne. He is a great guy and he's just such an interesting introspective character, man. He makes great stories, great takeaways. And that's what I liked about Black Privilege among other things. The book, there's a lot of useful advice in it and you don't really get that often from books that are about celebrities or celebrity life. You just, I don't know, "Put your mind on it. You can do it. You're good enough. You're smart enough." You get this inspirational BS. This book Black Privilege is light on inspirational BS and heavy on real stuff. I love that. I was not expecting that candidly. So I liked the book. I highly recommend it and to put a button on it all. Here's a cool email I got. When I told y'all that Charlamagne Tha God was coming on. You said, "Jordan, if you were more hip hop, you'd be Charlamagne. And if Charlamagne was more of a nerd, he'd be you." Not totally sure how I feel about that, but for now I'm feeling pretty good. So I'm excited to hear what you think about this as I am with every episode. Big thank you to Charlamagne.
[00:58:06] Links to his stuff will be in the show notes. Please use our website links if you buy the books, it helps support the show. Y'all have been great about that. Worksheets for this episode in the show notes. Transcripts for the episode in the show notes as well. There's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or just hit me on LinkedIn.
[00:58:27] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using the same software, systems, and tiny habits that I use. That's our Six-Minute Networking course. It's free. Go to jordanharbinger.com/course and dig the well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course. They contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[00:58:46] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who loves Charlamagne, or if you know somebody who needs to hear his advice, share this episode with them. I hope you find something fascinating in every episode of the show. Please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:59:21] Hey, show fans, I want to tell you about the a16z podcast, the go-to place for discussions about innovation and the future as technology impacts our lives. Changing everything from how we work to how we play. Produced by Andreessen Horowitz aka a16z, which is based in Silicon Valley. The podcast is actually more global and brings you direct undiluted expert views from the front lines of the tech industry that help make sense of what's coming, where we've been and where we're going. The show does this through very high insight per minute, carefully curated, nuanced in-depth yet accessible conversations with business leaders and entrepreneurs, top industry and academic experts, as well as up and coming fresh voices and book authors early on before they go on most other podcasts. The show is regularly in the top 10 on various charts, especially in Apple's Podcasts' tech category and has been cited by countless media outlets, best of lists, influence policymakers, and several other influencers. Subscribe to the a16z podcast wherever you get your podcasts today if you want to stay on top of tech and the future.
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