Rapper and Drink Champs host N.O.R.E. popped up on The Breakfast Club to attempt some serious damage control over Kanye West’s comments about Jewish people and George Floyd’s death during the most recent episode of his podcast.
Off the bat, N.O.R.E. apologized for West’s false claim that Floyd wasn’t murdered by former police officer Derek Chauvin, but was killed by fentanyl. “I support freedom of speech, I support anybody not being censored, but I do not support anybody being hurt. I did not realize that the George Floyd statements on my show were so hurtful. And you gotta realize, it was the first five minutes of the show, when he walked in, he told my producer, if they stop filming, he’ll walk out.”
N.O.R.E. continued, claiming he tried to rebuff West later in the show: “But later on, I actually checked him about the George Floyd comments, I actually checked him about the ‘White Lives Matter’ [t-shirt], but it was so later in the episode, I was already inebriated at that time, that maybe people looked over it. But I apologize to the George Floyd family, I apologize to anybody that was hurt by Kanye West’s comments.”
For their part, Breakfast Club hosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne tha God, pushed back, stating that West’s comment about Floyd’s death was a “lie” and “misinformation” and not an issue of “free speech.” They also asked N.O.R.E. why Drink Champs even aired the interview, especially when The Shop had pulled its episode with West over his “hate speech,” and that Tucker Carlson edited out West’s numerous antisemitic remarks from their two-part interview.
N.O.R.E., in turn, insisted that “other than the George Floyd comment, I thought I conducted a very great interview.”
When asked directly about West’s antisemitic comments on Drink Champs, N.O.R.E. said there were “four Jewish people in the room” and that he “looked at them to tell them, like, ‘Yo, tell me whenever he’s going across the line.’ And they’re looking, and they’re saying, ok, we understand where he’s coming from.”
Still, N.O.R.E. insisted, “But none of it, I don’t support none of it. The George Floyd comments, I don’t support the antisemitic. That’s all I have is Jewish friends, that’s all I have is Black friends. That’s it.”
N.O.R.E. also seemed to address the ostensible removal of West’s Drink Champs appearance from major podcast platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, confirming that it was the show’s team that took the episode down. “We actually posted it and saw that this was the wrong edit, took it down, and then it got reposted again with those same comments that was there.” (As of publication, no version of the episode is available on those podcast platforms, but the original remains uploaded to YouTube. Drink Champs did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.)
N.O.R.E. continued, “So it was a mistake on our behalf, on hour team’s behalf. Because we don’t edit nothing… but we will start from here on out, because we understand that’s people that’s hurt out there.”
Later in the interview, N.O.R.E. was asked what he made of West’s current mental health state, and said he believed the rapper was “having a mental breakdown,” though noted his ability to still “have a straight conversation… with nothing but sense.” Charlamagne, however, pushed back and said it’s possible for someone to be struggling with mental health issues and still be a “bigot” and “a Black white supremacist.”
As the interview came to a close, N.O.R.E. reiterated that he made a mistake with West’s interview, and added, “I feel like I failed my people… When I watched this [interview], I cringe. I cringe. And I felt terrible. So I have to say sorry. I have to say sorry to anybody that was hurt y his rhetoric, anybody who was hurt by his speech, anybody who was hurt. I apologize to George Floyd’s family… I want to apologize to anybody who was hurt by me letting that man say something on my platform.”
Along with his appearance onThe Breakfast Club,
N.O.R.E. also appeared on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning, where he reiterated his apology, saying, “I felt like I can control the interview. And I learned early on that I didn’t. As a black man I feel like I failed. As a human I feel like I failed. As a journalist I feel like I succeeded.”
He added, “That’s why I’m taking responsibility. I didn’t think he was going to spread this ideology. I didn’t think he was going to go there. I thought he was going to have a couple drinks. He smoked blunts with us. I thought it was going to be light-hearted.”
This post was updated on 10/17/22 @ 12:35 p.m. ET with information about the availability of the Kanye West episode of Drink Champs on major podcasting platforms, as well as N.O.R.E.’s comments on Hot 97.