Mostly everyone loves Dave Chappelle, myself included. I think his brand of comedy is brilliant, and rarely offends anyone, because he's making fun of everyone. When I heard he was putting together this documentary film, I thought for about a second and realized what a fantastic concept! But what to call it? Well, none other than Dave Chappelle's Block Party.
A man who has done everything he can in the world of entertainment does something to give back to the community that has supported him for years. It all started in the summer of 2004 when Dave had the idea to put on a block party concert in Brooklyn, New York.
Dave contacted Michel Gondry to head up the documentary; Michel's previous project was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, so he was definitely an experienced director. Dave asked Michel for some advice on how to to go about doing this; and that advice was do what comes natural.
He first wanted to find a venue to hold such an event; when Dave picked a corner stretch alley of Brooklyn, he knew he got a find. Then, it was who should he invite, and how many people should he invite.
Dave decided to go to his hometown of Dayton, Ohio and start with his roots. Just as a coincedence, he heard a marching band practicing - the Central State University band, to be exact. He invited them to come to New York to open the concert - as you'll see in the film, they were overjoyed.
But Dave had a little secret of his own; he had a select number of 'golden tickets' to give out in Dayton. Those lucky few would be able to take a bus to New York, get a night at a hotel, and then bussed back to Ohio the next day. Not to exclude anyone, Dave chose people of all races to give the tickets to. After all, these are the people who know him as just 'Dave' and not 'the Dave Chappelle;' the people from his childhood. He also picked perfect strangers off the street.
Onto New York they went. But getting the talent to arrive, just a phone call from Dave and the answer was 'yes.' The list of performers is incredible, and beyond star-studded and legendary in the world of hop hop and R & B. The names go on, but we'll start with Kanye West, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Cody Chestnutt, Common, The Roots (who were also the house band) and Mos Def. And special guests include John Legend, Kool G. Rap, and Big Daddy Kane! Yes, the Big Daddy Kane, and I will say this - the crowd went nuts when he came out on stage; and why not, he performed as well as he ever had!
Oh, I guess I left off one name from the performers list. That would be The Fugees! You are correct, you are not reading wrong, The Fugees came back together because of Dave Chappelle! And really, it wasn't even supposed to happen. The whole thing happened because Dave asked Lauryn Hill to perform; she, of course, said 'yes.' Well, Columbia Records would not Lauryn sing some of her songs and they would not allow them to be recorded. So, Lauryn decided to ask Wyclef Jean and Pras to forgive and forget the problems they had when they were together, and reform for this occasion.
Well, that turned out to be the highlight of the entire event! The crowd loved it, they play so well together, and Lauryn Hill's voice is just magical! I could listen to her all day; beauty just flows out of her mouth!
Throughout the concert, Dave came out to keep the crowd civil, while the other performers got ready. He makes jokes and even brings a fan up from the crowd to battle rap with! But, in his normal style, Dave makes it extremely enjoyable.
There are also scenes of the bands and performers warming up; this is another highlight of the film. You really get to see the real people come out of these celebrities. And the community of Brooklyn really gets into the act.
Just to get into the community center that's next to the stage, Dave had to butter up the principal. But not too much, after all, he is Dave Chappelle! And to watch Dave interact with the kids at the school is priceless.
Block Party is a film that, I think, anyone can enjoy who likes music. Even if you don't like this certain kind of music, there's something about the style it's shot, and the performers who come out, that won't disappoint.
Block Party is in theaters now; it's rated R for language.