Earlier this month, radio personality (and future HBO talk show host) Charlagmane Tha God announced a New York Times-sponsored speaking engagement with Kanye West to discuss anxiety and success. The talk — which was to be moderated by the Times‘ pop critic Jon Caramanica on Wednesday, October 17th — was billed as a “Mental Health Talk” and tied to Charlagmane’s upcoming book, which is based on his own struggles with anxiety. Today, he announced that the talk has been canceled, writing, “Unfortunately I think to have that conversation with him right now would not be productive” in a post on Instagram.
A representative for TimesTalks confirmed the event had been canceled.
The decision to cancel the talk comes after West decamped to Africa to complete his next album and, more tellingly, after a week in the headlines for his continued support for President Donald Trump. Last Thursday, West made an uneven appearance at the White House, pontificating for 10 minutes on a wide range of barely connected topics, from his IQ to his bipolar diagnosis to plans for an Apple-designed Air Force One (he got pretty much everything wrong when describing it). On Saturday, West followed it up with a long, livestreamed talk on Periscope from Africa, in which he discussed social media and details of his publishing deal with Sony/ATV — from which he says he wants to be extricated.
“Normalizing being mentally healthy is a conversation that I really wanted to have with Kanye because he’s been so vocal about his own mental health struggles,” Charlagmane wrote of the initial intent for the talk. He described having the event this week as “a total distraction from the point of the convo which is to eradicate the stigma of mental health especially in the black community.”