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Dave Chappelle's Midnight Miracles & Messaging In Media: Gladiator Circus World

Updated: May 20, 2021

We all want to be the hero. I want to be the hero. I want to slay the dragon, get the treasure chest, save the princess, and get a welcoming from the village. What’s the point of being the champ, if you’re not the people’s champ. So often in this life, it feels like the bad guys win the most. It’s like the Million Dollar Man beats Hulk Hogan every week.

Obviously the conversation about good & bad is nuanced, but there’s moments where it's so blatantly obvious where the good guy loses. We applaud people who take moral stances, but so often, those are the people that end up losing.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for taking a correct moral stance, it was obvious to the whole world that was wrong, 27 years later. 27 years of that man’s life taken away, only for everyone to admit it was wrong, 27 years later.

Imagine that. Newspapers weren’t allowed to publish his face, he was to be thoroughly anonymous & rot in jail, in fear of his growing popularity, because clearly, he was right.

He came out 27 years later, the people’s champ. But it didn’t start off that way and it greatly affected his life. Being the peoples champ requires a great sacrifice for the people, the ones that support & the ones that would try to kill you, because their kids now reap the rewards of the world Mandela created.

People like Mandela make me extremely idealistic. I think we all have already, & will continue to change the world in every way, & we can change it positively. But I’m still pretty young, & looking at the field, they make it feel like the good guy has to lose. It’s blatant sabotage, all the time, all the way back to Jesus. Why would we crucify the best guy for doing the right thing?

Dave Chappelle is an example of the good guy that ended up winning, he put his reputation, financial wellbeing, mental well being & a decade of his career at stake, and we understood that & supported & boycotted his show till he got the money he was owed.

Dave Chappelle is part of a generation of artists that the media has been trying to tear down & discredit for decades. There was a generation of conscious artists that decided to produce the dopest art possible, at the highest level possible, and it's been decades of media smear campaigns against them.

I was born in 1998, the year I was born the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill won album of the year, Outkast dropped Aquemini, A-Tribe Called Quest dropped The Love Movement & there was a growing push towards creating impactful art that changes the world becoming mainstream.

After 98 & as Hip Hop continued to grow in mainstream notoriety, conscious messaging took a backseat to party music & gangster rap.

Conscious music continued to sneak into the mainstream. In early 2003, Chappelle's Show premiered on Comedy Central, offering guest spots to conscious rappers like Mos Def, De La Soul, and Slum Village.

In October 2004, XXL magazine put Chappelle on the cover along with Kanye West, Common, Talib Kweli, and Dead Prez.

That same year Chappelle held a free concert in Brooklyn featuring a bill of conscious rappers, including a reunited Fugees, Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, The Roots & Common. The concert was filmed for a Wattstax-like documentary called Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, perhaps the definitive conscious rap documentary.

But Chappelle, like Kanye West, Lauryn Hill & Andre 3000, was so overwhelmed by success and the burden of a socially conscious reputation that he fled to South Africa. Nina Simone did the exact same thing as Dave, down to the trip to Africa, because of the exact same predicament, and they were all called crazy.

What would make a person leave the set of a successful television show & flee to Africa?

‘Gladiator Circus World’ is the title for Dave Chappelle, Yasin Bey & Talib Kweli's second episode for their podcast ‘Midnight Miracle’

The show was recorded last summer during Chappelle’s 2020 Summer Camp shows, which he hosted in Ohio and featured an array of guests from music and comedy. Chappelle described it as “a variety show on wax.” The episodes boast a mix of conversations, special guests, sketches, impersonations, archival audio clips, and music (both pre-recorded and new performances).

“Gladiator Circus World” finds Kweli and Bey premiering their first music as Black Star in over 20 years with Madlib production, while Radio Rahim, Questlove, Lamorne Morris, and Jon Hamm make guest appearances.