Updated: Oct 11, 2021
“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
2020 Unforgiven IGTV
2021 Redemption Song
2021 The Closer Netflix
If you weren’t paying attention, you would think these were just comedy specials. They were hilarious, they made your stomach hurt from laughter, but Dave Chappelle is constantly sprinkling grains of truth, & at the end you were able to see how Dave was testing a hypothesis on attaining leverage that ended up working.
How does someone turn telling jokes for a living into millions of dollars? How can someone walk away from millions of dollars to tell jokes for free? How does someone turn walking away from millions of dollars to tell jokes for free into billions of dollars? That is the Dave Chappelle masterclass on leverage within capitalism. Dave Chappelle is the master pimp, he is actually the artist every other artist claims to be.
The media will try to paint it as though all of Chappelle's specials are homophobic & racist tirades, but unless you have the IQ of a pigeon, you can clearly see that Chappelle is always talking about White supremacy & capitalism. Even when discussing things that seem homophobic, he's actually talking about intersectionality. His infamous "How old is 15 really" all the way to how "it was easier for Bruce Jenner to become Caitlyn Jenner than it was for Cassius Clay to become Muhammad Ali."
The media is put in place to maintain the status quo. They've spent years calling him a crackhead & a homophobe. Why is it necessary to put a smear campaign out on a comedian? It's almost like he's more powerful than some entities would want.
As he has referenced several times throughout his masterpieces, Dave Chappelle is a product of American Transatlantic slavery, he was a product of freedom in that same America, he is also a product of the 60s & everything that was for the counter-culture, postmodernism, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, & American pop culture.
Dave Chappelle was a stand up at the age of 14, he was a child prodigy, he mastered the artform early, by the time his first special came out he was a legend on the comedy scene. On his journey in the entertainment industry, he found ethical issues with capitalism that he always incorporated in his art. His parents were scholars of African American studies, he had a counter-culture upbringing. His mom would go with him to stand up shows & sit in the back of the club to watch his sets, something that seems trivial but is so important in the trajectory of his career, in comparison to other child stars on a similar trajectory that had much more tragic outcomes because they didn’t have that foundation.
If you’re wondering what Chappelle was escaping from when he went to South Africa, Britney Spears' situation is the perfect example of this inescapable human enslavement system we exist within & perpetuate. Britney Spears & others like her were a hollywood experiment, child stars that were sold to corporate entities for a lifetime of abuse & slavery. Teams of writers, agents, producers, & executives would craft these artists, manufacture their lives & create these mass produced sounds, yet the humans behind the art would quite literally be slaves to the machine. Dave Chappelle said he was given psychotic medication & meant to question his own sanity, Britney Spears' estate was able to take control of her by claiming a conservatorship because of her mental breakdowns.
A conservatorship is granted by a court for individuals who are unable to make their own decisions, like those with dementia or other mental illnesses. Spears' conservatorship is split into two parts, one for her estate and financial affairs, the other for her as a person. Under this legal agreement, she has not controlled her finances since 2008.
“The pimp said that’s easy Iceberg, all you have to do is beat that bitch with a coat hanger, then run her a bath & give her some pills, she’ll be so grateful you fixed her, she’ll forget you were the motherfucker that broke her in the first place” Dave Chappelle was able to see past the industries Machiavellian control tactics & got himself out of Hollywood.
The entertainment industry is a place where people make money to create make-believe, you can clearly see how this can easily go haywire. It was originally just a large money laundering scheme, it operates on mischief & manipulation.
The entertainment industry is a notoriously treacherous environment, but as we realized with the Me-Too movement, & as Dave Chappelle is trying to emphasize, the issues we face are not related to specific industries, it's embedded in the culture of industry itself. When things like corporations & stocks were built they were built to organize & track a slave system where humans were products. That is part of the foundations that built the pillars we stand on, & those ramifications present themselves in every industry. We are all bought & sold, we all buy & sell ourselves & our time.
Industries are built so the people on top with the money continue to make the most money & own the labourers, who trade their time & energy for labour, yet reap the least profit, while making someone else who was already rich, who has put in little to no work, more rich. Those wealthy business interests that own everything limit the autonomy, resources, self esteem, opportunities & education of the masses so they can keep them as reliant slaves to be fed to the machine.
In "The Closer" Dave spoke of a slave who escaped slavery & enacted that exact slavery on his own people because that is what the status quo of success was at the time, in order to describe how the system continues to perpetuate itself for this long.
The nature of corporate media & celebrity makes the artists themselves the brand, the human becomes a product. Now make that human product a Black person in an already racist America built upon a slave system & you can see why Kanye West was taken to the psych ward & Dave felt the need to go to South Africa. Everything becomes marketable, everything becomes for sale. Every aspect of your life is investigated, pried upon, lied about & commodifiable. The same corporation that signs you is also creating all of the missile warheads that are destroying the world, so you can't even say you're against war. Corporations get to decide what you can & can't talk about, which is why John Cena had to apologize to the Chinese government, or Dababy had to apologize to the Gay community.
What starts off as a passion project becomes a prison, artists are trapped in deals & then left in debt while being unable to use the one outlet they were born with & many of them commit suicide because they're unable to take the various stresses that come along with being this sensitive expressive being within this corrupt system that objectifies its labourers, or at least that’s what it was historically.
Various things happened within a single lifetime that are quite literally shifting the world. Hip Hop & The Internet were created simultaneously.
In the 90s, the world changed. Hip Hop took over the globe. American pop culture had already taken over the planet, but now Hip Hop had taken over American pop culture. Hip Hop was the first American genre created by free black people, it was also the first American musical genre to be driven by language & messaging. It was also the first free Black American musical genre, especially after the rise of gangster rap in the 90's, whose driving agenda was black financial empowerment by any means necessary.
Hip Hop created a generation of artists that were also business savvy, something that seemed unfathomable in previous generations. If ACDC talked about their business exploits they’d probably be called sellouts, but Hip Hop was created by poor people & the ones that got rich were using the poetry to inform those around them on the necessary steps to take in order to get rich, in the same way slaves would communicate secret codes through music.
Black people in America in the 70's lived in a socially constructed poverty where they were unable to attain basic resources or opportunities. DJ Kool Herc, the founder of Hip Hop, was a trained electrician who couldn’t get any work because of the racism in his society. One day his sister asked him to DJ her party, it made him a little cash so he decided to throw more parties on the block to make some money on the side. Black people were not allowed to make money in White society, so DJ Kool Herc & them decided to build their own society. Hip Hop culture was built out of necessity to make young black people money to get them off the streets & at peace.
A decade after those block parties in the Bronx, Rocafella records set the blueprint for Hip Hops successful financial philosophy. If Hip Hop is a philosophy of financial empowerment then Jay Z corroborates the hypothesis & turns this Hip Hop hypothesis into a Scientific fact, it is possible to create art, own it, traverse the corporate infrastructure & get compensated fairly for your value. This was a revelation Jay Z, Dame Dash & Biggs came to in the 90s, before the internet became what it is today, where the philosophy is even more applicable.
You can do it all by yourself. You don’t need any corporation, they need you. Rocafella records understood that if they owned the means of production, they created all of the products, paid for all of the equipment, then they should also get all of the money, as opposed to the standard deals that artists were used to that would leave them like TLC, on the red carpet at the Grammys without a dime to show for it.
Rocafella records traversed the matrix & made it to a billion dollars. Artists that signed to Jay Z like Kanye West, Beyoncé & Rihanna are all billionaires now thanks to that blueprint a young Jay Z, Dame Dash & Biggs Burke created in the 90s.
Dave Chappelle is an honorary MC, he is beloved by Hip Hop. He is a part of the Hip Hop generation, he grew up on Wu Tang, he has always made references to the most popular rap songs, he held Dave Chappelle’s Block Party with various Hip Hop artists, Chappelle’s Show infamously had every rapper at the time on, & he’s just been a part of the Hip Hop scene his whole life. He grew up on these philosophies. On the Master P’s & Dame Dash’s of the world.
Dave Chappelle became the hottest artist in the world. People were watching him like an action movie. Chappelle was a comedic rockstar during the Rick James era, & just like Master P taught, at the point of maximum interest, he declined the deal. Master P once said "if these White people are willing to offer me a million, I must be worth at least 100."
Years later Chappelle filmed his own specials & then sold them to an internet startup company called Netflix & more than made back the 50 million dollars he lost on Chappelle's Show, and after this run he was compensated by Comedy Central & received an apology for how he was treated during the creation of Chappelle's Show. What you're seeing now is a free man, acting and speaking like a free man.
There is a vested interest in keeping humans unaware of their capacity. At some point all of our ancestors were proficient in agriculture, we have now lost that from our repertoire of skills because we rely on supermarkets. The less we know, the more dependent we are, the more dependent we are the more easily we are controlled.
There’s no way to quantify the soul, there’s no way to measure it, there’s no way to grasp it, there’s barely a way to articulate it, but it's real & it has various ramifications on how you live your life. The people who stood by Harvey Weinstein are more than just red in the face, losing your integrity takes a toll on your wellbeing.
When something is authentic & it resonates, you can feel it in your bone marrow even if you can’t express it. Those are the foundations that built Hip Hop & Chappelle’s expression. These have been some of the greatest specials I’ve ever seen in my life. Each one was funnier & more profound than the last.
Everyone thought Chappelle was crazy. Who walks away from $50 million dollars? A genius. Chappelle didn’t walk away from the money, he was walking away from the circumstances that the money presented. He was walking away from the harassment, the chicanery, the mind games, slavery & politics of corporate America, and he was talented enough to make it all back at least 10 fold. I'm grateful to have witnessed this mans genius.
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