Charlamagne tha God talks Black political strategy, Jay Electronica and JAY-Z

By The Final Call | Last updated: Mar 25, 2020 - 2:49:04 PM

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Charlamagne Tha God is an accomplished bestselling author, television personality and popular co-host of The Breakfast Club, a nationally syndicated radio show. He is also an astute political observer having shared his views on various media platforms and has interviewed various politicians the past few years including presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Final Call managing editor Starla Muhammad and Don Enoch Muhammad, an aide to the Honorable Minister Minister Louis Farrakhan recently spoke to Charlamagne about the 2020 presidential election, how Blacks can best harness their political power and his impressions of the new album “A Written Testimony” by hip hop artist Jay Electronica. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Charlamagne Tha God, co-host of The Breakfast Club

Starla Muhammad (SM): What will Blacks get for our vote and what should we be demanding? I know this (presidential election) comes around every four years. Our community is courted by these candidates, but it seems like we’re still usually left wanting in terms of a Black agenda or getting things that are really beneficial to our community. Share your thoughts on what you’re seeing.

Charlamagne Tha God (CTG): To me to answer one of your questions, Black people won’t get anything if they don’t demand anything. Because the Democratic Party has been getting the milk for so long for free, it’s like why buy the cow? But you know I think one of the greatest things that happened was 2016 when Donald Trump got elected into the White House. And the reason I think that was a great thing is because if you look at a lot of the numbers, a lot of people say that 1.2 or 1.3 million Black people decided to stay home. They didn’t show up because they were uninspired by what was going on in the Democratic Party with Senator Hillary Clinton.

I think they know our power and I think after watching what happened to Joe Biden in the primary, they definitely know our power. You got a Black man like Jim Clyburn who’s the most powerful Democrat in South Carolina; he gave Joe Biden his endorsement so every Black person in South Carolina went out to vote for him. That was reflected all throughout the South. So I think that they know that they need our vote in a real way.

You can see the Republicans are even reaching out to try to get Black people to vote for them. Because they feel like if they can get Donald Trump’s number just into the low teens with Black people that he will run away with the election again this year.

I think we just have to recognize our own power and actually start demanding something for our vote. Stop focusing on things that make us feel good and actually make these politicians implement some policies and legislation that can actually make us good.

SM: How do we do that? What is it going to take for us to take that next step in terms of actually demanding something substantive or do you think that we’re still afraid of offending folks, what do you think the issue is?

CTG: I like the fact that you have people like Black Futures Lab. They wrote an agenda for Black America, things that they think that Black America needs. I think people have to continue making a lot of noise on social media. I think that the fact that Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a Douglass Plan which is a Black agenda; Elizabeth Warren had a specific Black agenda; Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg had the Greenwood Initiative which was a specific Black agenda named after a city that was near Black Wall Street in Tulsa.

I think us just making noise and us actually asking for things and coming up with real plans, initiatives and agendas that we want to see happen. I think a lot of these politicians are adopting these things. The truth of the matter is that they hear us. And they hear us in a way that they’ve never heard us before. I don’t know if it’s because of social media. I would assume it is but I also think that the fact that when they come on these Black platforms such as The Breakfast Club or Angela Rye’s podcast whoever it is, they’re getting challenged and they’re getting asked about a Black agenda.

The Democratic Party at this point is supposed to be getting Blacker and Browner and younger and more diverse when it comes to gender but we’re not seeing that. We’re not seeing it nor is it reflected in the two candidates that are out there now. But we’re seeing that in the people who still support the Democratic Party. I think that they are really starting to listen to people and I think they’re really afraid that we’re going to stay at home because we showed them when we stayed home in 2016 and we showed Charlamagne tha God them in the primaries.

They didn’t get no large abundance of young, Black voters to come out. It was the older Black voters. The younger Black voters aren’t afraid. The older Black voters are still voting out of fear and the fact that Joe Biden is familiar to them.

But the young voters is like: “we don’t care, let Trump burn it down. We want some tangible solutions to our problems.” And I don’t see a problem with that. That’s what voting is about. Voting is transactional. I don’t know if people realize that, but you’re supposed to receive something for your vote. So, if you don’t feel like you’re receiving something for your vote, hey I can’t blame you for not showing up.

SM: Well thank you my brother. As always, I promised I didn’t want to keep you long but I appreciate you always giving time to The Final Call and thank you so much as always Brother Don Enoch for facilitating.

CTG: Can I say one more thing though? I just want to talk about some of the things that should be in the Black agenda. Somebody like Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, they really can just adopt what’s already out there. You have the Black Futures Lab agenda but even more so if they want to lean into what some of their former opponents were doing. I really like Mayor Bloomberg’s Greenwood Initiative. The reason I liked it is because it was focused on economics.

You got to do what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was doing, which was focusing on economics. You got to do what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was attempting to do the way he was pivoting in the final years of his life. It was all about economics.

I like the fact Mayor Bloomberg wanted to create a hundred thousand new small Black businesses and the fact that he wanted to create a million new homeowners. The fact that he wanted to put $70 billion into the ten most disenfranchised communities in Black and Brown communities. And I think that we need free trade schools. Everybody’s talking about free college. That’s beautiful, but I think we need free trade schools. I think brothers and sisters need to learn how to use their hands again.

These are things they can go into and immediately go into the work force when they get out of trade school. I think these are some of the things that need to be provided to Black America to help us get in a better situation economically.

SM: Do you think that sometimes we have a tendency to vote emotionally? What I mean by that is you mentioned of course Mayor Bloomberg and his initiative and then of course you have other folks that may roll out a plan. But then sometimes the push back is “well what about stop and frisk?” So I’m not going to give this new proposal the time of day because I’m still mad about the repercussions of stop and frisk. How do we navigate that when it comes to some of these candidates who have—whether you’re looking at Biden and the crime bill, whether it’s Bloomberg—how do we navigate some of the things that they have done that have harmed us, with rolling out something that may be something to help rectify what they did?

CTG: Well two things can be true. Yes, Joe Biden created extremely racist legislation that oppressed and marginalized us with the ‘86 crack laws and the ‘94 crime bill. Yes, same thing with Mayor Bloomberg when it came to stop and frisk. But at this point in their lives the best apologies that either one of them can make is to change their behavior; not even the change of behavior, just a Black agenda. That’s the only way they can right some of those wrongs. The same way they created legislation that hurt us, they have to create legislation that helps us.

For me as a voter, I don’t mind voting for a person as long as they’re doing something that is going to make us better in the future; as long as they’re providing us something that is going to make us better in the future. We’re the same people that want to take reparations from these devils so we’re not going to take their money? To me we’re not asking for nothing, they’re not giving us nothing that we’re not owed.

So whatever Bloomberg offers, whatever Joe Biden offers or whoever it is, they’re not giving us anything that we’re not owed. I have no problem taking what I am owed.

Don Enoch Muhammad (DEM): I want to say that Black folks don’t know how to pivot—or older Black folks; they think that a candidate has to be like—we have to completely love—no, the candidate has to completely love us, comprehensively love us. We just can’t accept like okay they’ve got a good platform; like they have a good position on this and because of that I’m going to vote for them … like the candidate is like our mother or something like we want motherly love from the candidate.

CTG: They say Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line with their interests. And that’s what Black people need to start doing. We got to start falling in line with our interests. There is no perfect candidate at all.

What I do, I find a couple of things that I like about a candidate and if they’re in line with my interests, that’s what I vote for.

Jay Electronica and JAY-Z during the Brooklyn Hip Hop festival in 2014.
DEM: I want to ask Charlamagne one more question since we have The Final Call on the line. I want you to give a brief critique of Jay Electronica’s new release “A Written Testimony.”

CTG: Aww man! First of all I really, really enjoyed it. I’ve been talking to some people and they like it but they don’t really get it. And just because they don’t understand the language, like for me, a brother who grew up on the Nation of Islam and reading “Message To The Blackman” and watching the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s speeches, it hits differently with me because I understand the language that Jay Electronica is talking.

My critique is like … I wish the title … You know JAY-Z and Kanye West had the “throne” (Watch the Throne) but I say mere mortals sit on thrones, but Black Gods we sit on the Wheel! I wish it was called “Watch the Wheel” instead of “A Written Testimony” (laughing).

I really enjoy it. I was listening to it this morning and I’m still vibing on it throughout the day, but it’s so much free jewelry in there. That’s one of them albums that you’ll listen to and things that you don’t understand just Google it. And then you’ll end up going down a rabbit hole and so many things. I don’t care if you Google the intro which is the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, things that you’re going to go into. Or you’re going to find that speech of why the Black Man is the Original chosen people. You’re going to see all of that. Just Google some of these things that these brothers are talking about. JAY-Z and Jay Electronica and it’s just going to take you down a rabbit hole that’s going to make you learn a lot and then think a lot.

This is a very important project that Jay Electronica dropped. It couldn’t have come at a better time. It might be the cure for the coronavirus.


DEM: I completely concur that it was worth the wait. We waited 10-12 years or so for this record and it certainly hasn’t disappointed and I’m also really surprised at the amount of participation that JAY-Z gave to the record. JAY-Z is really giving a lot to this record. Of course he doesn’t have to so you know it’s just completely—I mean he’s willing to do it! And I’m just listening to his rap. It has evolved so much. It’s so conscious and it’s so high right now, JAY-Z’s rap. I’m really vibing off that. Jay Electronica is absolutely amazing how he intertwined the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad into his word play. He’s amazing, he’s like the best that has ever done it.

CTG: I think the interesting thing about JAY-Z is JAY-Z is finally rapping how he wants to rap. You know back in the day he said that “If truth be told lyrically I’d probably be Talib Kweli” and also he says “Truthfully I want to rhyme like Common Sense, but I’ve sold five mill, I ain’t been rhyming like Common since.”

You look at a brother like JAY-Z now who feels completely free to be the true and living god that he is. I think now it’s reflecting in his music and he’s giving other brothers the confidence to be that free.

SM: Thank you my brothers.