Twelve years ago, hip-hop lost one of its most creative and powerful voices, and the man wasn't even technically a rapper.
In 2004, Dave Chappelle famously walked away. Not only from his booming Chappelle's Show shortly after signing a $50 million contract, but from the public spotlight in general, performing live only rarely, and almost never on camera. It would later become apparent that Chappelle had to leave for his own physical and mental health, and, of course, I support that, but I'm far from alone in feeling the culture has been worse off not having Chappelle in it over the last decade.
No one walks away from the game in their prime—the list was pretty much Chappelle, Barry Sanders and that's it—but now it's just Barry Sanders. Netflix just announced that they would be releasing three new comedy specials from the man "soon," which can only signal a full-fledged return that it's now apparent was unofficially launched during his recent SNL hosting spot.
Distressingly, there are high school seniors who effectively missed the entire Chappelle's Show era—they would have been 6-years-old when the show ended—so let me seize this opportunity to teach/remind everyone what we've been missing. Without exaggeration, this is the comedy equivalent of Nas returning to rap if Nas had left the game for a decade.
We're talking a man who's created some legendary sketches that just outright made us laugh, but also sketches that embedded real social and political messaging inside the laughter. Who has the cojones to make the first skit of his first network show about a blind black white supremacist? Dave Chappelle, that's who. And who put Kanye West on TV for the first time, and recruited Mos Def for an epic freestyle, and produced what I'm prepared to argue is the best hip-hop concert film of all-time? Dave Chappelle, that's who.
Now is the perfect time for his return, and personally I'm more excited to see him holding a mic onstage once again than I am for any upcoming album. Welcome back Dave, it's a celebration.
By Nathan S, occasional keyboard hitter and beard maintainer. This is his Twitter.
Photo Credit:Huffington Post