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Charlamagne Tha God On The Power of Black Women, Therapy, and Faith



Charlamagne Tha God On The Power of Black Women, Therapy, and Faith

Hip-hop has transformed the world as we know it. And where hip-hop takes center stage, the name Charlamagne Tha God is never far behind. Born Lenard Larry McKelvey – the man from Moncks Corner has not always been the media maverick we see today. His road to success has often been winding and he has faced a myriad of challenges in creating the brand that is Charlamagne Tha God.

Award-winning radio show host. Best-selling author. Late-night talk show host. Today, the media mogul runs an empire worth millions. While success follows him around like a shadow, the last few years have seen him undergo a serious transformation – from hip-hop’s chief antagonist to mental health advocate.

Plagued with symptoms of anxiety and depression since his teenage years, Charlamagne spent the greater part of his early life trying to make sense of his condition. However, every doctor visit led to the same diagnosis. “Everything is okay. You just have an athlete’s heart.” It wasn’t until several years later, that a racing heart led him to another hospital visit, and the doctor in charge questioned him about his mental health.

“This is the first time somebody said to me, do you have anxiety?” recalled Charlamagne. “‘Cause, it sounds like you had a panic attack. And I was like, oh, no, not that I know of. And he was like, are you stressed about anything? I’m like, hell yeah!”

The verdict had been given. But Charlamagne had little clue about his next step. With a lack of mental health awareness and limited financial resources, the media mogul decided that success alone could become an antidote to his stress. However, years went by, and he realized that success was only making his anxiety worse. Unaware that his condition may require professional help, the wordsmith kept hustling and focused on his rising stardom.

“I didn’t realize anxiety was a mental health disorder before I started going to therapy,” he recalled on a podcast episode with Jay Shetty. “I started going to therapy when I was 38, 39 years old. Can you imagine thinking you had it all together? Thinking you knew exactly what was going on in the world and then you start sitting down with a therapist and realizing you don’t know ****?”

Charlamagne often credits American comedians, Pete Davidson and Amanda Seales, for introducing him to therapy. Therapy enabled him to explore his past traumas and re-evaluate his life based on new learnings. It also allowed him to reconnect with his authentic self, which was now more focused on providing a platform for others to heal and discover themselves.

Although therapy allowed Charlamagne to explore his authentic self, he credits more than just his therapy sessions for the success he has been blessed with.

“I wouldn’t even be in the position I am in life right now if it wasn’t for God and Black Women”, said Charlamagne in an interview on The Real Daytime. “I come from a grandmother who’s prayed a lot, a mom who’s a Jehovah’s Witness, and my whole life I knew that there was something bigger than me.”

“When I was little, I always felt the presence of God, but I always thought that it was this Michael Jackson poster I had on my wall. So I would always think that Michael Jackson was watching over me, but it was God throughout my whole existence,” quipped Charlamagne.

Faith and Black women have played an integral part in the media mogul’s professional and personal growth. The father of four daughters is quick to give credit where it’s due – whether it be his therapist, his mother, his wife, or his co-workers. “Black women are the CEOs of our lives and have been since day one,” he said, voicing his admiration for late-night showrunner Rachael Edwards and Comedy Central exec Bianca Brunette.

Never settling for mediocrity, Charlamagne has always aspired to be the best. When he landed his first gig at z93 Jamz, a local radio station in Charleston, he had already set his eyes upon the best in the business. Wendy Williams, Howard Stern, and Tom Joyner were the super-jocks that Charlamagne saw himself in line with.

Fast forward a few years, and Charlamagne set off to join iHeartMedia with “The Breakfast Club.” The show which was recently inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame has an audience of nearly 8 million listeners a month and has catapulted Charlamagne to the very pinnacle of success.

Eager to use his platform to uplift members of the Black community, Charlamagne has now turned his sights toward mental health outreach. In 2021 he launched the Mental Wealth Alliance, a platform that aims to amplify awareness around mental health in the Black community.

The platform also aims to raise $100 Million over a five-year period, which will allow it to partner with other Black organizations and industry experts to help work on MWA’s three pillars:

Train: prepare thousands of Black people to become research and clinical services providers in psychology, social work, and related fields through training and by establishing scholarship funds to provide training to increase the number of mental health care professionals from 4% to 14% to mirror the underserved population in need of culturally aligned mental health support.

Teach: advocate for the implementation of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Mental Health Literacy (MHL) in public K-12 education nationwide at federal, state, and local levels.

Treat: support culturally competent organizations in providing free therapy to more than 10 million Black Americans within five years through the support of existing organizations and funding of the establishment of new organizations.

Charlamagne’s efforts to give back to the community have also received widespread recognition across the United States. He recently had the honor of receiving the distinguished Emma L. Bowen Humanitarian Medal, during a gala in his honor in New York City. “The Humanitarian Medal recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to individuals and communities with the same passion and zeal as our late founder,” said Patricia C. Jordan, Board Chair for the Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center. “We are delighted to be honoring Charlamagne, who like Mrs. Bowen, has dedicated himself to helping individuals, especially those in the Black community, face the stigma surrounding mental health illness so they can effectively and productively overcome their challenges.”