As part of his GQ Men Of The Year cover story, actor/comedian Dave Chappelle addressed a variety of topics and also offered his thoughts on both Kanye West and crooner D’Angelo. During his interview, Chappelle first recalled Kanye performing at one of his Radio City Music Hall performances this year.
He says the Chicago, Illinois lyricist questioned why he wasn’t invited to perform at the show. While speaking on Kanye questioning his lack of an invite, Chappelle compared the rapper to a pretty girl at the dance and explained that “the machinery” behind the show may have been too intimidated to ask the rapper to take part.
“No one was more surprised than me when he did the surprise performance during my Radio City show,” Chappelle said. “It was weird. You know what he said after the fact, which I thought was funny? He said, ‘Why wasn’t I on the show in the first place? Like, why wasn’t I booked?’ So I don’t know what happened via the machinery. It also could be that Kanye’s like a girl that’s so pretty, nobody asks her to the dance. You know what I mean? I knew the day before that he was coming to see the show. Then, as I was walking onstage, right before I went on, Kanye was there and was like, ‘Yo, can I rock with y’all?’ And I thought he meant in general—like, ‘Yeah, man, always! We all cool for life! Blah blah blah.’ Talking all that shit. And then afterwards, when I say good night, I looked up. Kanye is actually onstage, standing there with a microphone in his hand. I was like, ‘This is nuts.’”
The former “Chappelle’s Show” host continued to speak on ‘Ye when asked what he thought about Kanye comparing his ordeals with the paparazzi to that of the civil rights struggle. He didn’t agree with Kanye’s civil rights struggle comparison, but did state that dealing with the paparazzi as someone with a great deal of fame has the potential to be dehumanizing.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “But I do see a common denominator in the sense that the issue of privacy in general is everyone’s issue. And his version of that is very extreme. I’m a celebrity in some people’s eyes, but not to the extent he is. I saw on Yahoo that his wife got tackled in Paris. Like, just crazy shit. I think that he’s right in the sense that scrutiny in and of itself is oppressive. If someone sits there and stares at you while you eat, you won’t even eat the way you normally do, because it’ll make you so uncomfortable. If I look at my dog when he’s eating, he will look at me like, ‘Dave, I will bite you. What are you looking at? I’m trying to eat.’ It’s something that dehumanizes a person, being on display like that. So is it like the civil rights movement? Not quite. The metrics are a little wrong to make that comparison. But it is a civil rights issue, in a sense.”
Chappelle was later asked if he thinks there’s a possibility that a new album from D’Angelo will ever come out. He revealed that he hopes a new project from the singer will come out, and then used a story about boxer Muhammad Ali to explain that D’Angelo could still be making music and hasn’t quite decided to share it yet.
“I’d like to think so…When a guy goes away like that, they might not come back for any number of reasons,” the comedian said. “Yesterday I was watching this YouTube video, and it’s William F. Buckley interviewing Muhammad Ali when Ali was banned from boxing. And one of the guys on the panel asks Ali, ‘Do you miss being the heavyweight champion of the world?’ Ali is like, ‘What makes you think I’m not still the champ? I’m still the champ.’ The guy replied, ‘Wait, no, no, no—that’s not what I mean. Do you miss boxing and blah blah blah?’ And Ali is like, ‘Nah, I don’t miss boxing. As a matter of fact, I could call my sparring partner today. I could box all afternoon. I miss boxing for money.’ In other words, in his mind, just because he wasn’t in the public eye, his title was no less legitimate. And his capabilities were no less legitimate. He looked at it like, ‘I’m just being separated from my livelihood, not what I love.’ So I look at a guy like D’Angelo and I’m like, I’m sure he’s still making music. It’s just a matter of whether or not he wants to share that with us or not.”