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Charlamagne Tha God has been making a living by not treading lightly when interviewing celebrities for a long time. But his now infamous interview with Kanye West has gotten the most attention, including that of the New York Times, who profiled the radio and TV personality. 

The NYT story offers some interesting background on Charlamagne, including a criminal background that he rarely, if ever, speaks about.

Born Lenard McKelvey, he was, according to his father, Larry Thomas McKelvey, a bad kid on the streets of Moncks Corner, S.C.

“I had to bust him upside his head a lot of times to get him back on the right track,” the elder Mr. McKelvey said. “He got in with the wrong crowd and did a lot of crazy stuff.”

Arrest records from Berkeley County, S.C., show he wound up in and out of jail.

I was in the back seat of a car and a shooting happened, and so all of us ended up going to jail for it,” said Charlamagne, adding that no one was killed. Two other times, he said, he was arrested on charges of possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to distribute. 

It’s notable, and admirable, that in a business where artists routinely manufacture illicit pasts, Charlamagne chooses not to glorify his. From that point in the piece we get an outline of his come up, including interning at a radio station in his native South Carolina, joining Wendy Williams on radio to eventually landing at Power 105.1 on its morning show.

Interestingly, many of the rappers that were contacts to speak on Charlamagne (Lil Kim, Jay Z, et. al.) didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Read the rest of the Times’ profile on Charlamagne Tha God right here.