Charlamagne Tha God's "Hell of a Week" Is One Heck of a Show

By #AndradeSays Archives
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You can't call yourself a New Yorker if you don't know who Charlamagne Tha God is. Co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Breakfast Club on Power 105, this "Prime Minister of Pissing People Off" became notorious for unapologetically speaking his mind regardless of the company present, and that captivating quality has continued to serve him throughout his career. At present, this occasionally messy radio host is now an occasionally messy late-night TV host on his own show, Comedy Central's Hell of a Week with Charlamagne Tha God. This reincarnation of his last show, Tha God's Honest Truth with Charlamagne Tha God, now features influential guests and an ever-changing panel of three contributors, all of whom discuss and debate current events in politics and entertainment. The topics they talk about run the gamut, and every episode seems to ride the line between the weight of its seriousness and the levity of its comedic wit -- though, admittedly, it errs on the side of comedy as a rule.

I recently attended a taping of Hell of a Week. The soundstage where it is taped in the Paramount building is an intimate one, which works well with the communal feel of the experience. The studio audience's reactions were genuine and easily heard on the show's telecast, and while this level of interaction wasn't intentionally encouraged, as far as I could tell it definitely wasn't discouraged, either.

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It's hard not to see Hell of a Week as a distillation of Charlemagne's previous work. He built his brand on giving unfiltered takes that were sometimes as divisive as the very topics he discussed, and now that brand has gained a much larger platform. His impact as a media personality now extends beyond hip hop artists and entertainers and reaches right into American culture as a whole.

Since the beginning of this season, Tha God has interviewed a myriad of guests, including Issa Rae, Fat Joe, Ray J, Don Lemon and Kenya Barris. Notably, the level of severity in the conversations seems to change with each interviewee. Rae's interview was more jovial -- i.e. Charlamagne's classic style of "comically messy" -- while Fat Joe's felt weightier (no pun intended), mainly because he was speaking on the growing amount of rappers being murdered in their own neighborhoods. As he put it, "We getting hit up by the police, and we gettin' hit up by our own for being in our hood, tryin' to show love. So, it's dangerous to be a rapper these days." He went on to say, "It's the hardest job out there right now, because they comin' at you either way. Either way, they tryin' to put you in jail, or your own people trying to kill you."

Ray J's interview was, like Rae's, mostly light-hearted, as he's quite the character himself, but it also took a slightly more serious turn when he discussed the alleged second sex tape with Kim Kardashian that he supposedly sold back to Kanye West. (See in season one, episode three of Hulu's The Kardashians). "Put it like this, if what they saying I did is true, then why didn't you never sue me?" Ray said in defense of himself. "I just wanna clear my name, man. [I'm] fighting for my kids to know that they daddy is a great person who respects everybody."

When you think about the names that Charlamagne has on his show, and how intimate Hell of a Week's set is, it really makes one realize that this man's true role is that of equalizer. Charlamagne may not be a regular schmo like the rest of us (at least financially anyway), but he's a man of the people. His presence and trademark irreverence lend a down-to-Earth feeling to his interviews with each of his guests, regardless of their status or profession. That why the audience feels so comfortable chiming in with the occasional "yerr!" or "facts!" -- because it's been made perfectly clear that soundstage is a safe space where the culture is free to be the culture.

Charlamagne fills this sweet spot between the messiness of the radio world's hip-hop drama and the more impactful news stories that tend to affect us all. My hope is that as his career continues to progress he'll continue to keep his ear to the streets and the people in his heart. He obviously takes his platform seriously, especially considering the reformatting and re-release of his show as the version it is now.

Hell of a Week is basically a quick and dirty version of Charlemagne's old radio show, except I imagine he now has a lot more say about what goes on behind the cameras. Besides his two best-selling books, Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It and Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me, Hell of a Week just might be the No. 1 source of Tha God's unique perspective.

New episodes of Hell of a Week with Charlamagne The God premiere Thursdays at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.

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