For the past few weeks, radio personality, Charalmagne Tha God has been fighting accusations that he sexually assaulted an underage girl at a party that he threw in his hometown of Moncks Corner, South Carolina 13 years ago.
The story was brought back to light when the alleged victim, Jessica Reid, did an online radio interview with STAR, host of Star in the morning, and gave a detailed description of what happened that night in 2001. Star even provided the police report to substantiate the claims. The initial backlash was, in a word, absent from mainstream media. It seemed as if some “higher-ups” made sure this story never got the oxygen needed for the flames to grow. The original video of the interview was even taken down from Star’s YouTube channel shortly after it was posted. I also noticed that many of the outlets we have come to expect cover this type of news within hours of it dropping were silent until a statement from Charalmagne’s lawyers was released.
I decided to wait until later that afternoon to share my thoughts on the situation since I did not see anyone else covering it. I discussed how I was familiar with the story already because Charlamagne himself had talked about this very situation before on a few different platforms. He explained it in 2013 in an interview with DJ Akademiks, on his podcast The Brilliant Idiots, and in his book titled Black Privilege. In every instance of telling the story, he made sure he reiterated that he was found innocent of the accusations and pled guilty to a lesser charge of distributing alcohol to a minor. The goal of my video was to give some extra context to the situation by stating that he has never hidden this story and had spoken about it publically. I did, however, note that because of his status within the media, he is able to twist the story any way he wants if his voice—given his position, is the loudest.
Think of the movie inception where someone else places an idea in your mind without you realizing it. The idea being implanted in this case is Charalmagne’s innocence. I’m sure he knew in the back of his mind that this story would come out and him getting in front of it would be a strategic move. Now that the story is back people can quickly defend him and say he was wrongly accused, not because that is the truth, but because HE SAID SO. He would not only be guilty of this despicable accusations, but he would also be guilty of doing what he has publicly stood against, using one’s power to silence victims. This is all speculation of course. The only people who know the truth are Charalmagne, and the woman Jessica Reid.
From reading the comments, I saw three central themes that would later go on to shape the narrative of the people covering this story; on one side people felt this story was Charlamagne’s karma for the way he treated other Black men who were accused of sexual misconduct (Bill Cosby, Russell Simmons, R. Kelly, etc.). Others, after listening to the woman’s story, (reading old tweets, and hearing sound bites from his podcast) felt the accusation further reinforced the idea that he hated women and Charlamagne was a guilty rapist that needed to be “canceled.” The last group of people felt the timing to this story coming out was very suspicious as CThaGod that just announced weeks earlier that he would be getting his own show on HBO and he has a new book coming out in October. He is just another Black man who won’t leave the entertainment business clean, as actor Eddie Griffin stated in a 2015 interview on VladTv. (I ignored the people who insisted on blaming the victim.)
The conspiracy theories may not be too far off as now the victim, Jessica Reid, is attempting to re-open the case by bringing it to the supreme court of South Carolina. Someone else could be in her corner telling her she has a chance to win a case that is supposed to be closed. This scenario is very possible and not far-fetched. Author Ryan Holiday detailed a 10-year, $10 million conspiracy by Peter Thiel to bring down Gawker Media in his new book that went by the same title.
The court of public opinion has a better conviction percentage than the federal court. Once an accusation pops up, it is assumed you are guilty, and no amount of PR can help you. This is not to say I believe Charlamagne is innocent if he is guilty then as a culture we must get him out of here…I will repeat, if he is guilty of this crime, then we as a culture must get him out of here. I just feel more nuance must be applied when discussing a case that is basically “he said she said.” The case was sealed after Charlamagne pled to a lesser charge and police reports only tell half the story, especially if it is from the victim. They may not always be a fact.
Since the original story broke, many old tweets and audio clips have resurfaced and caused people who may not be fans or who consider themselves casual listeners to believe he is guilty. One publication, Madam Noire, posted an article with the title stating “Charalmagne Admits First Sexual Experience With His Wife Was Rape.” Whoa, as we have come to realize, people nowadays do not do more than read the headline, let alone do their own research to draw a conclusion. I saw the headline and immediately knew this was taken out of context and knew he would be in trouble.
I listened to this episode of the Brilliant Idiots, and during this conversation, Charlamagne and Andrew Shultz were discussing rape culture and how many generations were unknowingly raised within that culture and brought up the concept of drunk sex. He went on to say with his new understanding of what rape culture is, and how it is defined within our society, he asked his wife if their first time having sex would be considered rape because she was drunk. She said, “in hindsight, yeah.” As a result of the previously mentioned headline he felt it was necessary to add context that was missing from the article and even called his wife on the radio so she could clear up any misunderstandings as well. She stated that she consented and was well aware of what was happening that night and was not raped. She also said that her husband did a poor job in retelling that story and making his point about rape culture. If you believe drunk sex (both consenting adults are drunk) is inherently rape, then that may be another conversation for another day. However, I looked at this situation was as a sign of the general temperature of the public and how they felt about Charlamagne.
On July 23, 2018, a PSA on the Brilliant Idiots Soundcloud page was posted in an attempt to clear up and add context to clips that are being posted to “prove” he is guilty of the original accusations. One clip was where he talks about putting Spanish fly into a woman’s drink and having sex with her. In his PSA he added that he and the woman both bought the Spanish fly together and agreed to put it in their drinks before they engaged in the sexual act. He has been explaining himself quite a lot in the past few weeks, something he had not had to do before this story because it was his brash personality that made him, so he is. The self-proclaimed Prince of pissing people off has to atone for many of the wild and offbeat things he has said in the past.
As people covered the story, I have noticed that personal feelings towards Charlamagne, have played a role in how this story is depicted. I will list a few examples:
- Star, for example, has never shied away from stirring the pot and from breaking big stories that will affect the culture. He was one of, if not the first to break the Afrika Bambatta child molestation story on his radio show and has been a voice against many within the mainstream media. Since he broke this story, many have questioned his motives as some radio listeners believe Charlamagne is his heir apparent and has taken his place as the king “shock jock.” I also think it is important to note Star had a very public dispute with DJ Envy, a co-host with Charlamange Tha God and once said on the radio that we wanted to “R. Kelly” on his daughter.
- Akademics, who I mentioned before has taken a subtle but noticeable stance against his former mentor. My guess is because Charlamagne, in a roundabout way, placed blame on Ak for the death of rapper XXXtentacion. In one of his Twitch live streams, he made reference to news outlets not covering particular stories because of whom they were about. He never explicitly said Charlamagne’s name, but we can guess as to whom he was talking about.
- Legendary Hip-hop videographer, Choke No Joke blasted Charlamagne for the rape allegations, then in an Instagram post when on to say he wasn’t going at him because he was hating, but because he did not appreciate the way his interview on the Breakfast Club last year was handled. Choke even did an interview with Doggie Diamonds in which he alleged Charlamagne had a sexual relationship with one of the male executive at the Power 105.1 radio station.
We must ask ourselves this question every time someone in power is accused of a crime. Do we believe it because it is the truth, or because we don’t like the person? If you don’t like Charlamagne, then that is your own personal opinion that you are allowed to have, however, I think we must caution ourselves from leaning too far in one direction before we see how the matter gets played out. This goes for the people who like him as well. As a culture, Black people are very forgiving people that will spend years overlooking something foul a person has done. R. Kelly is just now speaking on all of the accusations he has been tied to. It is effortless to find “proof” that fits your narrative if you go to sources that have their own minds set. I would compare this to looking for negative information Barack Obama at Fox News.
What happened to us caring about the victim and her story? Why isn’t anybody interviewing her? Let’s stop trying to retroactively bring him down for old tweets or old statements that we all were complicit for. I say that because the fact that they even exist and we are just now discussing them means he wasn’t held accountable for them when they were made, and for that, we are all at fault.
In our collective effort to seek justice for the victims in the world, we must be careful and stand clear of people only doing so to further push their own agenda.
Malcom X. Bowser is a writer, curator, and founder of Urban X.