People can disregard what I'm about to say because in their opinion I'm probably playing the "race card", but growing up black in this country gives you a rather unique perspective on things. One person can see their local news as simply trying to get simple information out there, I can look at the same broadcast as them trying to paint all black males as animals. You could see Three-6 Mafia's Oscar win as something good for Hip Hop, and I could see it as a backhanded compliment from the academy by promoting a new millenium minstrel show. I know better than to buy that "Ron Artest is a caged beast", "Kobe is a dangerous black rapist", or anything that the media tries to sell you because of their continuous misrepresentation of my people whenever possible.
That's why, when Dave Chappelle walked away from his show and was categorized as being mentally unfit, I knew better than to drink the Jim Jones Kool-Aid that the media wanted to pour down our throats. Black folks bought that shit hook line and sinker as well, from Barbershops to the blogishere, I never heard so many people talk confidently about something that they had no proven knowledge about. It was pretty fucking shameful if you ask me. But I do feel that Dave had a serious problem that was a subtle theme throughout this entire flick though.
That problem I feel, one that plagued many great artists who take their craft seriously and want to be treated as such, is a man highly uncomfortable with an astronomic level of fame. This concert in which he funded directly from the depths of his pockets was billed as a concert for "the people", which is wonderful, but it also felt like a very proud man apologizing for a 50 million dollar contract that he just signed.
The concert, although rather dated because it was filmed two years ago, was filled with a handful of the artists that I truly respect. Mos Def and Talib got me fiending for another BlackStar album, even though I find their "don't vote" stance deplorable I still had to got hype when Dead Prez performed "Hip Hop", Erykah Badu reminded me of how crazy as fuck she is but in a good way, and Jill Scott's soulful elegance reignited a love for her that will probably result in a restraining order. Common did his thing, seeing Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap brought a smile to my face, hearing The Roots rock brought to light how dope Black Thought is and how I take him for granted for it, with a reunion of The Fugees which was just average for me to be totally honest, and the parts sprinkled in with Cody Chestnut just gives people insight on what a great talent he truly is.
In an age where asshole celebrities run as rampant as remedial Hip Hop, Dave's interaction with the people of his home town and New York shows what kind of quality dude he is. The one criticism of this film is that it's "not funny", which inspires me to put a Timberland boot squarely in the chest of any underling who utters such nonsense since it is advertised as a "concert film". But there is enough of Dave's humor spread throughout the film to leave any person with a respectable I.Q who could comprehend the commercial of said film, satisfied. I also see this film as a slap in the face to all those Bill "dudes who don't know shit about Hip Hop but want to put all of it in a bubble based on seeing a Ying Yang Twins video" O'Reilly type of critics, who are racking their heads trying to say something negative about the acts in this film.
But at the end of the day I respect Dave, and I applaud him for putting together a concert filled with artists that he really wanted to see perform, in the midst of one of the most turbulent times in his life. Unlike many people who want Dave to return to his show, I don't, not if it means a lethal dose of poison to his state of mind. I'm not in any way saying that Chappelle is the tortured soul that a certain Seattle based rocker named Kurt Cobain was, but we all see what can happen when a truly artistic person suddenly feels trapped by their monumental success.