Updated: 7 days ago
“I’m gonna become a parable, about either what you’re supposed to do or what you’re not supposed to do. I'm either gonna be a legend or just that tragic fucking story, either way, I’mma be somebody, I’m going full throttle. I'm eager to see how this will resolve itself.”
-Dave Chappelle (2004)
At the most fundamental level we exist as information. We exist as atoms, electrons & quantum information. We are metadata. Most of our instincts can be traced back to the evolutionary invention of the neural system millions of years before the existence of homosapien, let alone civilization. We exist as personalities, which is a collection of information. We are informed by generations that came before us & exist to inform the generations that come after us. We exist as memories in people’s minds, we exist to pass information through conversations, to collect it through experience, through culture, and to create it through life. If you live fully enough, you become a record of information, like a library, meant to ideally pass on what you experience to what comes after you, be it through genetics, stories, lessons or any other available means.
Dave Chappelle just dropped his special “The Closer”. This special is supposed to close out his body of work on Netflix so far since his return, there’s no word on whether this is Chappelle’s last special or just the last for this era.
If this is actually his last special, that's sincerely the greatest body of work from any artist that I've ever watched, in its totality. I can't think of many people with as many classics as Chappelle within my lifetime or from the people I like that were before my time, outside of just comedy. I’ve written several essays on every single special, show & podcast of his at various points in my life & each time I find something new in the works that I didn’t see in it before.
Dave Chappelle is a master at his craft. His comedy is more than poetry, it’s profound & gut wrenchingly funny at the same time. It’s tragic & beautiful. Chappelle is a gifted orator with revelations to preach through a medium that seems to have chosen him. You will never see someone more in their element than Chappelle talking shit with a microphone & a cigarette. His specials don’t need to always be funny, his gifted oration skills keep the crowd invested throught the loops of every idea he has. The Bird Revelations & 8:46 would go minutes without a single punchline. “The Closer” featured a story about a friend of his that killed herself. Chappelle is not afraid to tackle dark subjects, but he’s always able to find the most unexpected & hilarious punchlines, while making you think.
To understand Dave's career you first need to understand that the economic system we exist in today was built on slavery. It’s something that many people would like you to forget & pretend as though we have passed, but it’s something that presents itself in the various ways society operates today, on almost every level.
Like Daniel from The Book of Daniel, Dave Chappelle lived in Babylon & was exiled for staying true to his beliefs but he was protected by his natural talent & reaped the rewards of staying true to his integrity at the end of his career, to the backdrop of the system that enslaved him crumbling around him. Talks of Hollywood elite having pedophilia rings & the me-too movement are commonplace now, but when Dave Chappelle said something was wrong in Hollywood & walked away from 50 million dollars for 12 years, everyone called him crazy.
Dave Chappelle’s entire career has been a masterclass on escaping the plantation that is corporate America & ‘The Closer’ was his conclusion statement for the thesis that has been guiding his life & decision making up to this point.
When Chappelle first told his father that he was serious about becoming a comedian, the advice his father gave him was "Name your price, & if it ever gets more expensive than that, get out of there" this was the advice that Dave said led him to going to South Africa. The price Chappelle spoke of was not the amount of money he would be receiving, but what he would be exchanging for the wealth. At Robert Johnsons crossroads, Chappelle did what very few artists have ever done, he declined a deal from the devil. Few have done it because it never worked before, until now.
Dave Chappelle started this special off by telling us he’s “rich & famous now” that point is important because it was not always the case, Chappelle played the long game. Chappelle commemorated Juneteenth & emphasized how the slaves “were free the entire time, they just didn’t know it yet.”
Harriett Tubman said she could have freed more slaves if they only knew they were slaves. Chappelle’s thesis is more complex than I can wrap my mind completely around but the summation of the idea at this point in my life seems to be that we all exist within constructs that were created by imperialist systems of white supremacy. I have to say at this point in my life because I find that as I get older I find more depth & layers in all of Chappelle's work & completely believe my perspective of each special will evolve with time.
Chappelle believes these White Supremacy/Capitalistic constructs inhabit our systems of governance, politics, corporations, schools, our own minds & how we perceive the world.
The system as it exists treats people like products because that is what it was originally built to do. Within those constructs there are incentives that we each play for. Those incentives are constructed in our minds through education, media & more. The system is designed for corporations to buy & sell people. We are programmed to value certain things over others, & in turn by understanding our incentives the system manipulates our decision-making. Many value wealth over empathy & humanity, and they are able to standby as terrible things are done, or they are able to do terrible things to achieve their incentives, which is why many women watched as other women were fed to Harvey Weinstein, because they were kept afraid & without leverage.
People are controlled by various tactics through the media & Chappelle's career has been a breakdown of the various ways. Chappelle talks about how corporate media misprioritizes information, how they sacrifice black celebrities as pawns to distract from more dire issues, & how the system recuperates various grassroot movements, like the feminist movement or LGBTQ movement, in order to control people, with a heavy emphasis on cancel culture during the latter part of his career.
Smoke screens & social constructs like perception, status, hierarchy, & poverty are used to control people & keep them on the treadmill. Chappelle seems to have come across this realization early in his life & by walking away from $50 million dollars, Chappelle owned his power & regained leverage from the corporations. Chappelle’s idea is that the power is in the people, yet the people are brainwashed to believe the power is in the dollar, but if the masses wake up & find out the power is in them, they can rise up & unite. “You are Americans, so your power lies in each other.”
His soul was more valuable to him than what they were offering, and he walked away. Then in the long run, walking away made him more valuable. The first thing Chappelle did when he got large sums of money was buy a plot of farmland & a house in Ohio called the “Fuck You Hollywood” farm, so that if the industry would blackball him & defame him, like they ended up attempting to do, he would still have a home for his wife & children, and during his exile he would travel the world & do comedy for free at various random clubs & parks. His art was more important to him than the money because it was more real than a socially constructed capitalistic pursuit.
Dave Chappelle’s career will be studied for generations to come & he brilliantly articulated the blueprint throughout his discography.
2000 Killin' Them Softly HBO
2004 For What It's Worth Showtime
2017 The Age of Spin Netflix
2017 Deep In The Heart of Texas
2017 The Bird Revelation
2019 Sticks & Stones
2020 8:46 YouTube