Sunday, May 7, 2006

The Block Party Movie

Saw Dave Chappelle’s Block Party the movie…

As you can recall I reviewed the Dave Chappelle Block Party All Star Concert experience here. I know it was too lengthy for most of you to read it.

I will say some “brief” things about the movie:

We saw it at the $2.50 show after driving around all day looking at wedding venues. For some reason the cheap theater started the movie 5 minutes early by my clock so we missed a few minutes of the opening.

There are very few things that can be said about this movie to those unfamiliar with the musical genius of such greats as Common, Mos Def, Kanye West, Talib Kweili, The Roots, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Dead Prez, Cody Chesnutt and of course the incorrigible Dave Chappelle. These musical giants perform on the stage like legends while their performances are intertwined with Chapelle’s journey to bring the block party to life. Those who know what Quamir Questlove of the Roots crew look like will understand why that guy is pontificating about Dave Chappelle. Those with an idea on Mos Def will be shocked to see him tapping the drums as Dave’s straight man in a Jazz comedy routine. The whole experience is tied into a previous knowledge and love of the artists.

That is part of the frustration of the experience because as these people perform their songs and Dave’s clips jump in you get a little irritated because the songs are great, and you want to hear the whole thing. I found myself mumbling the rhymes as the music faded to the background.

The movie is good, I will own the DVD, a promise I do not make as often these days as my collection became very unwieldy some time ago and I had to purge. The movie is a solid flick for those with some inkling of who those artists I named are. Someone unfamiliar with the fugees will be more than a little confused as Wycleff begins the lyrics to Fugee-la from back stage. They won’t know to get goose bumps when they hear Lauryn Hill singing killing me softly, beyond the fact that it is a chilling rendition sung by the one time hip hop superstar.

One sad part of the film was my man Common’s lack of a solo performance. The man is literally in every scene as a hype man that would make Spliff Star jealous with his energy and intensity. He bounces into Kanye’s set like a man possessed and chills quietly on the stage as Mos Def does Umi says. See you have to know who he is to recognize that that smooth brother in the hat is the man who handed Ice Cube his ass in “For the Bitch in you” and told hip hop “I used to love her.” Otherwise you would be wondering who that brother in the cool tie and sweater combo is that keeps jumping up on stage.

The concert is a dream come true for hip hop heads like myself and Nicole who somehow missed our opportunity to attend the concert live. We found about it on the internet and tried desperately to get tickets but Dave Chappelle’s secrecy in not disclosing the location and providing tickets via secret email distribution on the day of made it impossible. Had we known to hang around Springboro Ohio while Dave walked about handing out tickets then we could have stalked him in 2004 for our opportunity to catch these giants on stage. I mean, Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap performed with Black Thought. Jill Scott and Erykah Badu freestyled runs on “You Got Me” John Legend croons the hook to “Jesus Walks” while Central State marching band carries the tune. It was a visual and auditory smorgasbord of talent, a virtual who’s who of some of the most artistic and talented artist who rarely get their due in the mainstream. Being Familiar with all the songs I could not help but want to stand in my seat and bob my head along with the music. When they told me to put my fists up I have to admit that I did it with abandon.

In the dimly lit theater all I could hear Nicole repeating was how jealous she was to have not been there. All I could say was that I was glad someone took a camera and filmed it for us to catch a glimpse of it.


Momentary Rant:

One thing that annoyed me when the movie first came out was all the people who reviewed it with absolutely no knowledge of the artists performing. Their biggest deal was how they enjoyed themselves despite not knowing the music, a majority of them admitting that they would never buy the music.

My thing is, why the hell not? If you admit it is good music then why not pick it up for a listen, grab an mp3 on I-tunes or listen to the album on Rhapsody, whatever method you got of getting access to the music. That seems so much more encouraging than immediately dismissing the music after acknowledging the infectiousness of it.

It is good music, go out and get it. Here I will give you a link to some of the greatest hip hop released in the last 5 or 6 years.

My biggest problem is that these are the same people who secretly bought the 50 cent single or some other popular tripe because the zeitgeist influenced them to. You know, that mass move to buy popular tripe so that you can dance to it at wedding receptions or in your car on the way home?

In a world where crunk and chopped & screwed garbage get so many spins (I am not trying to offend anyone but most of that stuff is wack beyond most normal limits of wackness.) It literally makes me want to cry when I hear the kids singing D4L at the orphanage, and that is all they play on the radio now. Really who listens to the radio but poor people and kids under the age of 17? Can the radio really say it is for adults, who mostly rely on their mp3 players and car CD players?

GD viral culture.

My thing is if you are a middle aged white movie columnist and you hear some music you like pick it up instead of remaining sequestered in your little world where my music seems exotic enough to enjoy but not support.

As I am fairly certain that no middle aged movie critics read my blogs I must only rant cranky to you people.

Thank you for listening.

P.S.S. And turn off the radio,

It is trying to kill you.

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