Drinkchamps Is Not Your Negro
After starting a podcast three months ago, I got obsessed with YouTube. That’s how I get when I launch a project. I learn how the process works and remake it with my style. But I’m lucky enough to have some background on the platform through work.
Companies building a presence on social media say the word “platform” a lot. It makes them feel big, like Olympic divers somersaulting their brands into relevance.
Platform is another word we’ve repeated into meaninglessness. But YouTube is a powerful platform in the truest sense of the word. It raises the voices and messages of the individual, even the most fringe of us. I don’t know whether that’s good. Or helpful.
Drinkchamps is a show on YouTube that brings rappers on to reminisce about careers since eclipsed. In a culture that values youth over all, it’s good to see the honorific treatment of former icons and supporting characters. As with other platforms though, the temptation to grow at the expense of everything cuts the show off at the knees.
Host N.O.R.E. vaunts a lovable simpleton act but boosts the room’s credibility with his heyday stories. He isn’t a journalist and doesn’t purport to be one. In most environments, that’s okay. Ye appeared earlier this year on Drinkchamps and talked music — his catalog, of course — and lions of the game he cribbed from. N.O.R.E. is a great host for that version of him. Ye is great at paying homage, especially when he is clear-eyed and levelheaded, rare as that is.
But the version that appeared last week on Drinkchamps had everyone saying that dreaded word.
“Why would he do this on his platform?”
“What an irresponsible use of the platform!”
The platform in question is a drunken 3-and-half hour interview with an old school rapper. I like twenty-year reunions and long stoop conversations too. They’re perfect venues for endless drinks, blunt-rolling, and overblown nostalgia. They aren’t documentaries.
Remember when we were all greater than everything that existed before or after? [Deep inhale. Big cough.]