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Charlamagne tha God: ‘My narrative has completely changed’

Listen to this week’s HBCU 468 podcast on his struggles, life’s anxieties and getting older

On this week’s HBCU 468 podcast, Charlamagne tha God sat down with Bill Rhoden to discuss his second book, Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me. The book and the conversation highlight a vulnerable side of the radio host, who is known for provocative rhetoric. He discusses his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and why he chose to go to therapy.

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The book’s title is a shoutout to the Mobb Deep song “Shook Ones.”

“That song is about not being soft or shook. But I am a shook one. … A lot of things I thought I did was fearless, but I realized a lot of things that I did, I did because I was scared,” said Charlamagne. He says his fears, some of them irrational, are a result of fights he’s been involved in, being attacked and racism.

The rest of the title, Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me, is a salute to the Geto Boys’ song “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.” Charlamagne said the lyrics are all about anxiety.

Accordingly, the Breakfast Club star talks about being “Blackanoid” — the title of a chapter in the book and a term he coined for being black and paranoid in America. He says there is a lot of anxiety that comes with that. At 39, he made the decision to go to therapy. He says therapy and faith help him reconcile with his fears, his past and issues he’d suppressed or ignored, such as selling crack to a woman in South Carolina. He says the woman’s daughter ended up dropping out of school to take care of her, and he feels indirectly responsible.

He also mentioned the #MeToo movement, and he knew the day would come when men would have to straighten up in their relationships with women. “I’ve got two daughters and another on the way. My future is female, so anything that makes the world a better place for women, I’m all for it.”

He also made it clear he is trying to grow from his past mistakes.

“It’s difficult when you are thinking a different way and people are using things from five years ago, six years ago, seven years ago, eight years ago and trying to paint a narrative of you now. If you want to judge for me old things, I’m fine with that. My narrative has completely changed. But you can’t compare 20-year-old Charlamagne, 30-year-old Charlamange to 40-year-old Charlamagne, who’s a father and husband.”

The Dallas Cowboys fan ended the conversation by sharing his thoughts on the exchanges between LeBron James and President Donald Trump, Colin Kaepernick and the NFL’s proposed anthem policy.

“I can’t in good conscience watch the NFL this year. … It shouldn’t even matter if they want to kneel because of the injustice that black and brown people are experiencing at the hands of the police. If you don’t care about black and brown people, I can’t care about your sport.”

Miniya Shabazz is a Rhoden Fellow and a junior mass communication major from Laurel, MD. She attends Grambling State University and is a staff writer for The Gramblinite.

Eryn Mathewson is the editorial coordinator for the Rhoden Fellows program. She loves Indian food, Terry Gross, and hopes to run an Olympic qualifying time for the half marathon before she dies.