‘Dave Chappelle’s Block Party,’ 10 Years Later

A lot can change in 10 years.

2004 was a landmark year for comedian Dave Chappelle. For the public, it was really our last year with him. But in that year, he gave us two great gifts, the end of Season 2 of Chappelle’s Show and a block party in Brooklyn that would become Dave Chappelle’s Block Party in 2005. Both his show and the concert, while wildly entertaining, illuminate an important aspect of the comedian’s allure: his peers. Not his celebrity friends — his peers.

Fast-forward 10 years and Chappelle is back, doing nine straight nights at Radio City Music Hall, which kicked off last night. Again, he’s showcasing not only his comedy, but the people in his inner circle, artists he was a fan of before he ever knew them.

While being invested in his standup, his greater goal was the curation of a spectacle, one composed of the people he knows, he trusts, and he’s fans of.

In honor of this run of nights at Radio City, as well as celebrating the decade that’s passed since we last saw him, it seems appropriate to check in on how everyone has evolved in that decade since Chappelle faded into the Ohio farmland sunset.

A look back at the stunningly vast cast of characters from his last curation, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.


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Then: Kanye West’s personal tour DJ. Was three years from founding Fool’s Gold Records with Nick Catchdubs, five years from starting DJ duo Duck Sauce with Armand van Helden, and a decade away from spearheading the resurgence of Cam’ron.

Now: THE RESURGENCE OF CAM’RON. Two singles from the upcoming EP Federal Reserve, “Humphrey” and “Dipshits,” are enough to suggest this collaboration is worthwhile. Also, he plays festivals. Just him. Because he’s very famous now.

The Broken Angel House 

Then: The backdrop for Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, but more importantly the stained glass and arch-filled home of Arthur and Cynthia Wood since 1979.

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Now: After the Woods were evicted in 2006, the house fell into a downward spiral. It’s currently being demolished. Will likely be condos by 2015. Because nothing is sacred in this cold, dark world.

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Then: Slightly floundering, despite winning a Grammy for his verse on Erykah Badu’s 2003 song “Love of My Life” following his 2002 project Electric Circus, which failed to meet the astronomically high expectations of its predecessor, Like Water for Chocolate (2000). The first single on his next album, “The Food,” had premiered earlier in the year on Chappelle’s Show (featuring Kanye West’s first television performance) and was the first of five singles from his 2005 classic, Be.

Now: Acts in addition to his music (Just Wright, never forget). Still hangs out with Kanye a lot. Did I mention he acts? (Hell on Wheels).

Kanye West

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Then: On the date of the “secret” block party in Brooklyn, Kanye West’s first album, The College Dropout, had been out for seven months. His fifth single from the album, “The New Workout Plan,” was released two weeks earlier. Jesus pieces were his thing, as was smiling, a lot. He wasn’t the most famous person, but as Chappelle noted talking to Jimmy Fallon, even then, Kanye knew.

Now: Maker of three to five classic albums, depending on your tastes. Also, he passed Jay Z with regard to widespread cultural relevance. Also, he’s married to Kim Kardashian. He had planned all of these things before he was even invited to the Block Party.

Mos Def

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Then: Mos Def.

Now: Yaasin Bey.

Talib Kweli

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Then: Talib Kweli, 2004.

Now: Talib Kweli, 2004.

Wyclef Jean (The Fugees)

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Then: Attempting to get the Fugees back together.

Now: Few can say that they’ve run for president, been “allegedly” shot at, created an “alleged” charity, and been a part of the highest-selling single of the 21st century (2006’s “Hips Don’t Lie). Actually, only Wyclef can say that.

Pras (The Fugees)

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Then: Attempting to get the Fugees back together.

Now: He makes documentaries. That’s really all you need to know about Prazaekiel. He makes documentaries.

Lauryn Hill (The Fugees)

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Then: Attempting to not get the Fugees back together.

Now: Riskier to see in concert than a warm mayonnaise sandwich.

Dead Prez (stic.man and M-1)

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Then: Had just released their long-awaited second album, RBG: Revolutionary but Gangsta. And no, that’s not Lance Stephenson on the left, that’s M-1.

Now: Are still a band. They performed in Washington, D.C., on Friday, and M-1 still looks like Lance Stephenson.

Jill Scott

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Then: Jill’s second album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2, was released only weeks before the concert, heavily riding the wave of first single “Golden.”

Now: After success in two Tyler Perry films (Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married Too?), she’s landed herself a spot as James Brown Wife no. 2 Dee-Dee Jenkins in the upcoming biopic about Brown, Get On Up. She hasn’t released an album since 2011, but she is — and probably will forever be — one of the high priestesses of the Essence Music Festival.

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Erykah Badu

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Then: Only months before the concert, Erykah gave birth to her second child, Puma, whose father is rapper the D.O.C.

Now: Hasn’t released an album since 2010, but is a completely unmissable live act. The anti-Lauryn. Because with time, her voice is somehow getting better. And stronger. It’s Patti Labelle–esque.

The Legendary Roots Crew

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 Then: Questlove, Black Thought, Kamal, Frank Knuckles, Captain Kirk, Hub, Martin Luther.

Now: Questlove, Black Thought, Kamal, Frank Knuckles, Captain Kirk, Poyser, Tuba Gooding Jr, Mark Kelley, Jimmy Fallon, Brian Williams, Barack Obama, Late-Night Television.

Arthur and Cynthia Wood

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Then: Happy hosts, happy homeowners, and happy lovers.

Now: Cynthia Wood passed from cancer in 2007. Arthur Wood is alive, but no longer in the home he built.

J. Cole

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Then: A 19-year-old student at St. John’s near the front of the crowd. Babyfaced. And very excited to apparently be around such superstars (top left of GIF for maximum #ColeWorld).


Now: His album, Born Sinner, released on the same day as Kanye West’s Yeezus, outsold Yeezus. Again, a lot can happen in 10 years.

Fred Hampton Jr.

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Then: Clenched fists.

Now: Clenched fists.

Cody ChesnuTT

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Then: Was experiencing a Cody ChesnuTT hot streak, still moderately popular after the 2002 Roots song “The Seed” and his ambitious debut double album, The Headphone Masterpiece.

Now: On Twitter, which I just learned. Definitely going to follow Cody ChesnuTT. Because he’s either the worst or the best at it. There is no middle ground.

Big Daddy Kane

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Then: A legend, occasionally brought out on stage by his younger admirers, much to the delight of all.

Now: A 10 years older legend, occasionally brought out on stage by his younger admirers, much to the delight of all.

Michel Gondry

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Then: Months before directing Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, his most accaimed film to date, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, was released. So he had the juice.

Now: Has the juice less now, which is what happens when you direct The Green Hornet. But we all make mistakes.

John Legend

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Then: Was essentially a studio singer and friend of the right people upon appearing alongside Kanye West, singing vocals for “Jesus Walks.”

Now: Months after the block party, released his debut album, Get Lifted, which proved to be a star-making turn, and has not gone away since. Will sing anything. Anywhere. Especially if it’s a benefit or something for charity. Never skipping those. Also, he’s Mr. Chrissy Teigen, has nine Grammys, and had a no. 1 single in 2013 with “All of Me.” He’s never going away.

Lil Cease

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Then: Hanging in Bed-Stuy.

Now: Tweeting from Bed-Stuy.

Brian Milsap

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Then: The Central State University band director. Also, the adviser to Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity, Central State’s fraternity composed of members from the band.

Now: A defendant in a 2008 case filed by a Central State University student, with the charges of hazing, assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among others, as the adviser of the fraternity that carried out said alleged hazings. So there’s that.

Mary Hall

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Then: Owner and operator of Hall’s General Store, a favorite stop for Dave where he lived in Ohio.

Now: Mary Hall passed away January 5, 2013. She was 85 years old.

HaHa Pizza

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Then: Pizza place where the mushroom pizza probably was hallucinogen-heavy.

Now: Pizza place where the mushroom pizza still is probably hallucinogen-heavy.

Concerts Without Camera Phones

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Dave Chappelle

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Then: Set to disappear for a decade.

Now: Seemingly ready to come back.

Filed Under: Comedy, dave chappelle, Kanye West, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, A-Trak, Michel Gondry

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert