Over the weekend, Revolt.TV dropped a new episode of its hit program Drink Champs, which, interestingly enough, turned into something closer to a pogrom than anything in the same stratosphere as a journalistic endeavor.
The show, hosted by N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN, had Kanye West as its guest. West proceeded to expand on why he designed a “White Lives Matter” shirt and the antisemitic remarks he’s been making as of late. He didn’t stop there with disgusting comments. He repeated a right-wing lie that George Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose even though medical examiners found that his death was, in fact, a homicide. West cited Candace Owens’ film, The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM, as his source. The rapper was virtually unchallenged when he expressed views that sound like he culled them from the gutter of The Turner Diaries (but we know he don’t read). No matter how great Drink Champs is, it was made clear that N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN don’t have the range to talk to dangerous people with dangerous ideas in a public forum.
There’s a reason Drink Champs is so revered. N.O.R.E. is certified in the rap game, an unquestionable legend. He breaks bread with your favorite MCs and their favorite MCs. And, as he mentioned in the Kanye episode, his hand in popularizing reggaeton more than a decade ago played a part in Bad Bunny’s eventual global success. Hearing N.O.R.E. shoot the shit with his peers, retelling old stories, and being the ultimate cheerleader is catnip for hip-hop fans. The added element of everyone getting drunk and high off their ass adds a great element of vulnerability, honesty, stupidity, and hilarity.
No matter how great Drink Champs is, it was made clear that N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN don’t have the range to talk to dangerous people with dangerous ideas in a public forum.
Drink Champs is the perfect platform to get schooled on hip-hop because N.O.R.E. is not the sharpest—he’s actually incredibly aloof—nor does he care to be. He’ll let anybody say anything. The show straddles this line between entertainment and journalism, yet to qualify as the latter, it’d require the pursuit of truth and honesty, and willingness to speak truth to power. Drink Champs, however, is all about spectacle. (Exhibit A: N.O.R.E. excitedly tweeting a joke over the weekend that he’s about to break Revolt’s server.)
After a lot of criticism over the episode (and reports that Floyd's family is considering a lawsuit against Ye), N.O.R.E. apologized on Power 105’s The Breakfast Club. He said he made a mistake, and he feels like he failed Black people. “I’m not going to have the excuse that I am not a journalist. I have responsibility,” he added. “I do not want my people to think that I did not step up at the time, but if you watch the whole three-hour-and-38-minute interview, I represent for George Floyd and Black people five, six, seven times.”
To be fair, he did speak up in support of George Floyd, but his responses and rebuttals were paltry, thin, and flimsy. He let Kanye West lie about George Floyd’s death and basically chalked it up to a difference of opinion. You can blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol, sure, but I’ll chalk it up to N.O.R.E. being completely out of his depth.
Interviewing people is not journalism. Being a great conversationalist is not journalism. If that were the case, do you know how many people would make H.L. Mencken look like Stephen Glass? A real journalist doesn't stand by as lies and vitriol are spread in favor of the drama and spectacle—that’s why this country is currently hanging by a thread, with lunatics occupying office. Drink Champs is a remarkable show, and I’ll forever be indebted to N.O.R.E. for penning one of the greatest tweets of all time, but maybe it should have made like The Shop, stayed in its lane,” and thrown that Kanye episode in a digital landfill where it belongs.