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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Welcome to Dave Chappelleƒ?TMs Block Party

By Alex Perlin

When I got back from seeing Block Party, the first question everyone asked me was, ƒ?oeWas it really funny?ƒ?? This is quite frankly the wrong question. I still have not figured out what the right question is, but this movie is not about being funny, it is about Chappelle using his fame and money for a great event, it is about political hip-hop, it is about Brooklyn, it is about what movies can do, it is just not about being funny. That is not to say this movie lacks humor. I laughed throughout the film, but these laughs were very different than what one would find in Half Baked 2. Perhaps it will make more sense if I describe what exactly Dave Chappelleƒ?TMs Block Party consists of. Chappelle decides that he wants to have a giant block party in Brooklyn, and that he wants to invite most of todayƒ?TMs popular political hip-hop artists to perform as well as people from all over to watch. The movie starts with Chappelle walking around Ohio, giving people his version of Wonkaƒ?TMs golden ticket, to give them a ride to Brooklyn and a room for the night while there. He invites everyone he knows, from the woman at the convenience store to two college kids just passing through, to the Central State University marching band.

Then, we see Chappelle in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, talking to the people who live and work around where the concert will be held. When conversing with these people, we get a nice glimpse of Bed-Sty, one that, as Chappelle says, ƒ?oeIn some parts looks like when The Cosby Show comes back from commercial, and in some parts like when Good Times comes back from commercial.ƒ?? One of the people Chappelle talks to is the woman in charge of the school that the Notorious B.I.G. used to attend, and the message of the movie is clear: even though this is an area filled with its share of problems, you never know what the children may become.

Then, the concert begins, and the rest of the movie is an interplay between the concert and then Chappelle and the artists talking about Brooklyn, hip-hop, and life. The list of performers is astounding, featuring Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, The Roots, Kanye West, Dead Prez, and The Fugees. Thatƒ?TMs right, the Fugees. It is worth seeing this movie simply to see them back together again, and to see Lauryn Hill belt out ƒ?oeKilling Me Softlyƒ?? with as much soul as she puts into ƒ?oeJoyful, Joyfulƒ?? at the end of Sister Act Two: Back in the Habit.
The only problem with the performances is that we only see a few songs per artist, and the movie leaves you with a longing to make your own block party to have them all there. Also, the side of Chappelle we see is a very personal and intimate one that makes you love him by the end of the movie, much more than before. Whether he is doing crappy battle-rapping on stage, telling jokes with Mos Def, or doing poetry on stage, there is a human side to the movie that is touching. There is such honesty to this movie and Chappelle that really drives the whole production.

The movie also refuses to hide the politics of the performers, as Dead Prez slows down part of their song, ƒ?oeHip-Hopƒ?? to accentuate the problems with todayƒ?TMs society as well as mainstream rappers. Chappelle says to the camera that there is no way people saying what Dead Prez is saying will ever be as big as they should be, since people do not want to hear the truth. There is also a brief conversation between ?uestlove of the Roots and Chappelle discussing how they are alike in that their fans do not look like them. I wished the conversation was longer, but they are all aware that their message does not necessarily reach who needs to hear it. Finally, the politics of the movie comes through loud and clear as Fred Hampton Jr., son of a murdered Black Panther, comes on stage and preaches to the audience to have the government free all political prisoners.

This movie is great because it completely disregards what people may want from a Chappelle movie. Before the concert, the performers thank God for putting Chappelle on this earth to bring them together for the concert. Religion aside, it is crucial to think about the fact that Chappelle used his money to create a once in a lifetime concert. Not only that, but he then did his best to get as many people there as possible, and he paid for them to go. If you like Chappelle, see this movie. If you like hip-hop, see this movie. If you like political speeches, see this movie. Most importantly, see this movie if you like none of these things. I love everyone featured in this movie so muchƒ?”I own 18 albums between the artists, and I think Chappelle is the funniest man alive. Once again, thatƒ?TMs not the point. The point is that these are the modern day political thinkers, and Dave Chappelle was the one who enabled us to hear them all at once.

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