Reviewed by

Bud Carlson

“Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” is part concert-film and part documentary, but it’s 100% entertaining. The movie tells the story of the live music concert put together and hosted by Dave Chappelle in Brooklyn, back in September 2004. The concert itself was a little reminiscent of the early Lollapalooza tours put together by Perry Farrell back in the early 90’s (I am privileged to have had the chance to see the first three years), in that all the performers and musicians were both friends and fans of one another’s, and contributed to each other’s performances. As a music fan during this period, this was the event that you HAD to be at. And now, through this film “Block Party”, those of us who weren’t in attendance at Chappelle’s event have the chance to see what we missed.


The concert-film parts of this movie are outstanding, capturing a tremendous variety of music between hip-hop, R&B and rock. All of the performances were backed-up with outstanding live musicians from the band The Roots, who were tight throughout (Thank God for live music!). The line-up of performers includes Kanye West, Erykah Badhu, Mos Def, Common, Jill Scott, and the Fugees (the Wyclef / Lauren Hill reunion). But the performers that impressed me the most were Dead Prez, whose pointed political, social and racial lyrics and music were reminiscent of Public Enemy some 15 or 20 years ago. There was also a surprise performance by Big Daddy Kane, who I thought was still just as skilled on the microphone as he was back in the day. 

 And the documentary aspects of the film are really fun to see as well. Those expecting the type of skits and gags that Chappelle is famous for from his television show may

be disappointed by how few comedy bits there are in the movie, and this really isn’t the type of comedy concert films made famous by Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy. Instead, the film documents this all-day concert made up of Chappelle’s friends and musical performers, but as the host of the show, Chappelle has plenty of chances to make us laugh both onstage and off. The thing is that you get to know the unscripted side of him, and he is very funny whether he’s adlibbing with the performers, or hanging out with various residents of the Brooklyn area where the concert took place. At the time of the event, things hadn’t yet gotten out-of-control for Chappelle, and he really comes across as being down-to-earth, easily approachable, and quite sane.  Oh, and did I mention that he’s really funny too?


This is a fast-paced movie to watch, with logical transitions between all parts of the film. The film was directed by Michael Gondry, who did an outstanding job of assimilating this hodge-podge of filmed material into a cohesive movie (unlike nearly every other music-oriented documentary I’ve ever seen). In fact, the only part of the movie that could even be possibly considered “a lull” would be the inordinate and unnecessary amount of time spent with the residents of Dayton, Ohio, who seemed to ham it up whenever they were in front of the camera. 


 Go see “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party”!


Armstead’s Second: 

  1. Dave Chapelle is funny.  Give him another fifty mil to comeback Comedy Central.
  2. I love Erykah Badu. and not like a sister.  Always will.  Nobody how stoned she may be.
  3. I dig Lauren hill and all, but Killing me Softly will ALWAYS be the sole property of Roberta Flack for me.
  4. Dead Prez.  Gotta get that record.
  5. Lastly, the Roots are the truth.  Go see this.
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