Black America seems to be disappointed in the folks at the long-running show “Drink Champs.” It is a given that the hosts– N.O.R.E., a former New York hip-hop artist who performed under the name Noreaga, and Miami hip-hop pioneer DJ EFN– aren’t journalists, but there were high expectations when it was announced that Ye (aka Kanye West) was going to make an appearance.
After all, in 2021, the Drink Champs episode with Ye became one of the most-watched interviews on the platform, with more than 11 million views and nearly 50,000 comments, HITC reported.
Drink Champs, which has been running since 2015 and has been aired by Diddy-owned RevoltTV since January 2107, features high-profile hip-hop celebs, athletes, and actors who come on the show to share drinks with the hosts while being interviewed. It has an audience of 2.2 million subscribers on Revolt TV’s YouTube channel.
Many tuned in on Oct. 15 to see if N.O.R.E. would get direct answers from West on his latest round of controversial news– his antisemitic Twitter rants; his new beef with Diddy; his buying conservative social media platform Parler; his wearing the scandalous “White Lives Matter” tee shirt at a Paris fashion show; his buddy-buddy relationship with right-wing, MAGA podcast host Candace Owens; and his fall outs with The Gap, JP Morgan Chase, and Adidas. But the interview turned out to be one with West in control and N.O.R.E. admittedly drunk.
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This isn’t the first time the show’s host have failed to ask the hard questions and now some are accusing N.O.R.E. and DJ ENF of “d-riding.” D**k riding is when you like a person so much you fail to confront them on their wrongs and just go along with what they say or do.
“The entire fiasco was a disgrace, and the worst moment in Drink Champs’ history,” reported Andscape. “It was also a reminder that Black outlets have a responsibility to be better in how we treat the people who stand to suffer the most from Ye’s antics — and, yes, even how we treat Ye, by keeping his rhetoric off of these platforms. Especially if they’re going to go unchallenged in real-time.”
This wasn’t the first time Drink Champs’s N.O.R.E. has been called out. It was criticized for encouraging former NBA champion Lamar Odom, who has been open about his addiction struggles, to drink to the point of intoxication during one episode. N.O.R.E’s offering Ye, who has talked about his mental health struggles, a drink and a blunt was also questionable. But what has outrage many is that N.O.R.E basically gave Ye an open mic without checking possibly offensive comments by Ye–and there were many. Ye’s comments about police killing victim George Floyd dying of an overdose has sparked a $250 million lawsuit against Ye from Floyd’s family.
N.O.R.E. has since apologized for the show, and RevoltTV has taken it off of its YouTube channel.
“I’m sorry,” N.O.R.E. said “I can sit there and say, ‘That’s only Kanye West, it’s only what he said.’ But I have a responsibility when I have an audience … When I watched myself, I was embarrassed. I was like, ‘Wait a minute? You just let him say that?!’ I’m irresponsible for letting it go,” MARCA reported.
N.O.R.E. added, “I would’ve been the better journalist that I am. I probably would’ve stayed sober the whole time and stayed on the subject.”
But the host stressed he believes in free speech. “I still believe people have a right to speak, whether it’s something you agree with or not, but you have a right to also check them on – and check them immediately. That’s what I regret.”
And, he said he has hope for West.
“By the way, I love Kanye West. I really think that we shouldn’t give up on Kanye West,” he said “I just got off the phone with Talib Kweli and I said: ‘Talib, I think you should reach out to him. I think he needs a Mos Def conversation … a Dave Chappelle conversation.’ Because he’s not having these.”
Still, Black America was upset on Twitter.
Creative video director Jameer Pondériva called out N.O.R.E.’s lack of journalism skills, tweeting, “Things Nore is: a hip hop encyclopedia, an unique and original artist, an entertainer, a person with an award winning, platform. Things Nore isn’t: Barbara Walters.
Pierce Simpson, an editorial producer at Complex, agreed. He tweeted, “As an interviewer, it’s imperative to push back on bullshit statements. NORE & Drink Champs just allowing Kanye to use their platform to parrot inaccurate and problematic talking points is trash.”
American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) founder Yvette Carnell weighed in on the issue. She tweeted comments made in a video, “‘I did not go to school for journalism..’ ‘I was a special Ed student..’” She added, “He’s telling you that he doesn’t have the expertise for the high level conversation this moment requires. Who you elevate matters to your politics.”
Others questioned why N.O.R.E. decided to get drunk. “Drink Champs premise is okay but it’s executed horribly. Let the guest drink to get comfortable then they’ll start opening up. Instead NORE be trying to get them blackout drunk and about 90 minutes into the interview it’s just a bunch of rambling,” tweeted The Anonymous Nobody.
“Drink Champs have been always the worst hip hop podcast them niggas are just drinking, clapping, screaming like bit**s they are not a part of the culture as they claiming to be. Also NORE doesn’t care about the people, he only cares about his bag, Math Hoffa is the real culture,” IBashar tweeted.
But others said Drink Champs should have stood by the show.
“Nore deleting that Kanye interview off of Drink Champs just ended up proving what Kanye said was right,” PeaceToTheGods&Earths tweeted.
“NORE is full of shit! He invited Kanye on Drinkchamps to get ratings. Kanye said some crazy shit, now NORE is on damage control, to save his own ass. But he knew Kanye on some other shit, yet he invited him. Bruh, I hope the family names you in that lawsuit,” tweeted Manny Jones.
Drink Champs hosts N.O.R.E., right, and DJ EFN. Screenshots from Revolt TV, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaFj6XxP8DA