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Radio shock jock and TV host Charlamagne Tha God has been in the entertainment industry for nearly two decades. He’s since become a household name, thanks in large part to his co-hosting duties on The Breakfast Club. But although the Charlamagne persona is larger-than-life, the name’s origin is more personal.

Charlamagne Tha God
Charlamagne Tha God | Heidi Gutman via Getty Images

Charlamagne Tha God sold drugs before he was famous

Before he worked in the world of radio, Charlamagne worked as a drug dealer in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding area.

He eventually met Wendy Williams in 2005, who was known for her infamous radio career at the time. He worked for Williams as he realized the opportunity that he was presented.

He got his name from history

By the time he got to the radio, Charlamagne had become his public persona, and was the name most people knew him by. He explained the name’s origins in a 2022 interview on The View.

“When I used to be in Moncks Corner, South Carolina selling drugs … I would always say my name was Charles or Charlie because I didn’t want people to run back and tell my parents what I was doing, which was so hypocritical because you’re buying it,” he remembered.

It turns out that he got his name from eighth-century Roman emperor Charlemagne.

“‘Charlemagne’ is French for ‘Charles the Great,’ and so literally when I was like 17 years old in night school, I just saw that in the history book and I was like, ‘That sounds cool. I’m gonna start calling myself Charlamagne.’ So it kinda stuck,” he said.

Despite Charlamagne being the name most people know him by, he never allows his children to call him by his old trap name. “You always say your kids don’t call you Charlamagne,” The View co-host Sara Haines said, to which he replied, “Hell no!”

As for the modified spelling, he told The New York Times that it was an honest mistake. “I think I just spelled it wrong,” he shrugged.


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Charlamagne hosts ‘The Breakfast Club’ along with Angela Yee and DJ Envy

SInce 2010, Charlamagne Tha God has sat alongside Angela Yee and DJ Envy on the popular radio show The Breakfast Club. Celebrity interviews on The Breakfast Club have become a rite of passage. But he doesn’t want to stay on the radio forever if it doesn’t serve him.

“Sometimes you’ve got to take two steps back to take 10 steps forward,” he told The New York Times. “I don’t want to be the guy who’s 50-something years old sitting in front of a microphone with my beard dyed black and my hat on backwards, yo yo yoing. You know what I mean? You have to grow and evolve and look towards the future.”