At some point between signing and discarding a 50-million-dollar contract with Comedy Central, Dave Chappelle executed one of the best ideas anyone had come up with in a long time. With a great deal of help, the comedian put together a Brooklyn block party on a September day in 2004 and had some of his favorite artists perform all day long. The party provided a rare chance for a large group of like-minded artists to interact and share a stage in a very unique setting, and hundreds of New Yorkers, along with some transported guests from Chappelle's Ohio hometown, were made very happy. If you couldn't be there, you can see the movie, documented by Michel Gondry, and if you want to hear an hour's worth of excerpted audio, there's this CD. Kanye West, Cody ChesnuTT, and the reunited Fugees were present but don't appear here; despite the missing artists, this is a sharp, succinct summary of what went down, with most of the best performances included. Some of the thrills include hearing Erykah Badu and Jill Scott on the Roots' "You Got Me," Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane over the Roots' "Boom!," Scott's radiant "Golden" (a single that had just been released and should've gone to number one), and Mos Def's hyper-charged "Universal Magnetic." The brief interludes, scored by the uncredited Randy Watson Experience (the Roots' Ahmir Thompson and longtime associate James Poyser), supply the sequence of performances with smooth transitions. Often-funny segments from a planning-stage conference call that involved most of the artists, Chappelle, and Gondry are laid over the backings. A Needlz-produced studio track from Black Star is included as well. If you end up owning the DVD, you probably won't need this unless you're a massive fan of the involved. Regardless, it can't hurt to have another reminder that humanity isn't always horrific. Events like the one documented by this disc should take place every day across the planet.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman