Chris Rock on His Brief Stint as a Signed Rapper: “There’s Demos Out There”

The comedic legend digs into the rap career he never had in a new interview with Chappelle’s Show co-creator, Neal Brennan.

Long before releasing a string of some of the best-selling comedy albums of all-time, Chris Rock almost took a very different turn with his discography.

In a new interview with Chappelle’s Show co-creator, Neal Brennan, Rock revealed he was, for a short while, signed to Atlantic Records as a rapper early on in his career. Though he doesn’t go into much detail about the stint, he does imply it was a natural aspiration growing up in Brooklyn and having seen Grand Master Flash spin in the park. “I DJed before I ever told a joke and was actually not bad,” Rock admitted before explaining how his career took a hard pivot after seeing Eddie Murphy’s Delirious and realizing, “Oh, ok, that’s what I should be doing.”

Rock goes on to recount how he came across the ad for the open mic that broke him while waiting in a six-block-long line to buy tickets to see Murphy at The Apollo Theater, leaving the line to go audition for his first set. He even recalls one of the first jokes he ever told (“Miles Davis is so Black, lightning bugs follow him in the daytime.”) From there, the interview dives into Rock’s early stand-up days, claiming to kill for about three weeks in his first year until he brought his girlfriend to watch one of his sets, after which he “bombed for about three years.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Rock riffs on why young comedians don’t get taken seriously, why he hates civil rights films, why his family moved from South Carolina to Brooklyn, and weighs whether Jim Crow was worse than slavery.

Hear Chris Rock chart his stand-up career with Neal Brennan below.


Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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