N.O.R.E. has responded to the backlash over Kanye West’s latest Drink Champs interview, admitting “regret” over how the episode unfolded.
The Chicago rap icon made a number of controversial remarks during the three-and-a-half-hour conversation, which premiered on REVOLT over the weekend.
In addition to calling rap peers like Diddy and Meek Mill “fake hard n-ggas,” Kanye launched into another diatribe against “the Jewish people” and even suggested George Floyd was killed by fentanyl, not ex-cop Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Drink Champs co-host N.O.R.E. has faced criticism for how he moderated the interview, specifically for failing to push back against Ye’s offensive — and in some cases factually inaccurate — statements.
The rapper-turned-podcaster joined Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning on Monday (October 17) to discuss the fallout from the interview, which he called a “learning experience.”
N.O.R.E. apologized to “anybody that was hurt by Kanye’s words and actions” and to “anybody who felt like I let them down.” He also pointed out that he did “check” Ye numerous times during the interview, but admitted he could’ve controlled the conversation in a more “responsible” way.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I can sit there and say, ‘That’s only Kanye West, it’s only what he said.’ But I have a responsibility when I have an audience … When I watched myself, I was embarrassed. I was like, ‘Wait a minute? You just let him say that?!’ I’m irresponsible for letting it go.”
As for how he’d do things differently if he had the opportunity, N.O.R.E. said: “I would’ve been the better journalist that I am. I probably would’ve stayed sober the whole time and stayed on the subject.
“I still believe people have a right to speak, whether it’s something you agree with or not, but you have a right to also check them — and check them immediately. That’s what I regret.”
As for why the episode was released in the first place, N.O.R.E. said he initially didn’t agree with the “powers that be” trying to take it down because he wanted to “defend freedom of speech” and empathizes with feeling “blackballed” by the music industry — but has since changed his mind.
“Now that I think about it, sometimes freedom of speech just ain’t free,” he reflected.
Despite the controversy surrounding the Yeezy billionaire, N.O.R.E. isn’t willing to give up on Kanye West and believes there’s still hope for him yet.
“By the way, I love Kanye West. I really think that we shouldn’t give up on Kanye West,” he said. “I just got off the phone with Talib Kweli and I said: ‘Talib, I think you should reach out to him.’ I think he needs a Mos Def conversation … a Dave Chappelle conversation because he’s not having these.”
Kanye West’s Drink Champs interview came on the heels of a recent firestorm of criticism stemming from his “White Lives Matter” Yeezy Season 9 shirt and ensuing anti-Semitic remarks, which resulted in his Twitter and Instagram accounts being restricted.
Ye was due to also appear on LeBron James’ YouTube series The Shop earlier this month, but the episode was pulled due to him spouting “more hate speech and extremely dangerous stereotypes,” Maverick Carter announced.