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STUDIO: Universal Studios
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
• September in Brooklyn: Making of Block Party featurette
• Extended music acts
• Ohio Players: Bus Ride featurette
Dave Chappelle left $50 million clams to go to a concert.
Dave Chappelle, Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Dead Prez, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, the Roots, Cody Chesnutt, Big Daddy Kane, the Fugees, and half of Brooklyn.
"So you may wonder what one does after leaving a king’s ransom on the table and going to South Africa to trip out…so am I surprisingly, ’cause I was so baked the entire time I don’t remember shit…"
Back when Dave Chappelle was riding higher than Snoop Dogg in a field of cannabis with his super-successful Chappelle’s Show, he took a side trip to the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn to throw a party and brought a few thousand of his closest friends along for the ride. He also brought a camera crew led by French (and surprisingly white) director Michel Gondry, who filmed all of the musical acts, as well as Chappelle’s shenanigans and all of the interesting people he met along the way (and there’s a ton).
"Free Tibet? You need to free some Right Guard ya stinky motherf*$ker. Goddamn, does anybody else smell rotten Doritos up in here or is it just me?"
This movie is an interesting mix of comedy and music, sort of a cross between an outdoor comedy special and music festival. First you have Chappelle, the ringleader, as he’s all over both Dayton, Ohio and Brooklyn, setting up the Block Party, and meeting people like the Central State University marching band and bussing them all to play at the event. He also meets your average Joes-On-The-Streets and has fun bullshitting with them. He also gives many of them free tickets to the event. Then the scene shifts to Bed-Stuy for the festival and Chappelle pretty much picks up where he left off in Ohio, meeting such people as Lil Cease, a musician and former friend of Notorious BIG, who’s probably the most famous act ever to come out of Brooklyn.
"Uh for your information, I wasn’t discovered naked and smoking weed while playing the instruments in front of me in my house. I think you have me confused with some white boy."
Chapelle also meets the nicest – and scariest – couple in Brooklyn, who have been married for over 40 years and live in a house (I think) they’re renovating for probably the entire length of their marriage. It’s about one step up from a cardboard box on the street…only the cardboard box would be cleaner. There’s various other random stuff, including Chappelle riffing from rooftops with a megaphone and trying on clothes, meeting kids, etc. These vignettes are a lot of what his Chappelle’s Show skits involved, only this time just off-the-cuff fun shit.
"Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?" "Are you my daddy?"
But of course the reason Chappelle is gathering so many people is to listen to the cream of hip hop and R&B music and there’s plenty of great musical acts to bookend the comedic scenes, not the least of which is a reunion of the Fugees after nearly a decade apart. Other acts include Kanye West, singing Jesus Walks, and riffing with Talib Kweli, Common and John Legend. Dead Prez also performs, along with the Roots, Mos Def, and another jam from Kweli. Two of my favorites in Erykah Badu, looking like she just got out of jail, and Jill Scott performed as well. And of course the Fugees round out the concert with a medley of their individual and group hits. This is my type of music for sure and it’s cool to see some of the modern greats just doing their thing. Jill Scott does a sort of rock version of her hit, The Way, that was unexpected but cool. If Mary J. had been present, I might have had to seek out the nearest time machine and made my way there myself.
One thing I absolutely can’t stand, even about Soul Train, is friggin’ lip-synching, period. If you’re there and you’ve got fans ready to listen, you better goddamned well be ready to belt some shit, and that’s what the acts all do here, and it rocks. What I also took away from this is that Block Party’s a great snapshot of the music and culture at that particular moment in time. I can see watching this in 10, 20 or 30 years and seeing how everything was going down, particularly the music. It’s kind of like any of the Woodstock flicks, only without the mud, rioting and fire. Blend that with Chappelle’s schtick throughout the flick, and this is a good time.
Obviously one last message to Comedy Central…
Couldn’t tell you much about the packaging as this was another screener deal, but the cover art has that old school Car Wash vibe and is cool. The video looks good and the music of course kicks ass in Dolby 5.1. There are a couple of special features: September in Brooklyn: Making of Block Party featurette, which is basically a backstage extension of the movie itself, highlighting the production and more vignettes of Chappele and company. There’s also the Ohio Players: Bus Ride, which is another 18-minutes behind-the-scenes of the CSU marching band and more Chappelle hijinks. Finally, there’s an extended musical acts feature where you can click an icon and see extended cuts of the musical acts. If you dig the music, this is a must see. And in my case, there’s a "why bother?" disc of some stills and the box art that I guess couldn’t fit on the main disc.