On this day in 2004 at the height of his popularity and buoyed by the unprecedented success of Chappelle’s Show, comedian Dave Chappelle joined forces with The Roots and Michel Gondry to throw a fête in Brooklyn that would go on to seal his status as a newly-minted cultural icon and become a landmark musical event widely considered to be the concert of the century for many millenials and their generational kin. The event, which summoned the ghosts of Biggie and Wattstax and bears direct responsibility for a hip-hop set equivalent to one of Christ’s miracles, found an all-star roster of marquee talents converging upon The Medina for a transformative moment of collaborative performance that will exist in the same rarefied air where Halley’s Comet and Jimmy Hendrix‘s closing set at Woodstock have been suspended for eternity. Before Chappelle’s sudden, storied departure from the spotlight he would captain the intersection of Quincy and Downing adjacent to Arthur and Cynthia Wood‘s legendary Broken Angel house to play the affable host to scores of people at a free show featuring appearances from Kanye West and A-Trak with the Central State University Marching Band, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, dead prez, Common, Cody ChesnuTT, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Big Daddy Kane, John Legend, Kool G. Rap, Fred Hampton Jr. and The Fugees – reunited after a 7-year hiatus for what would be one of their last major appearances together onstage as a group.
While Gondry captured the event with great attention to detail – from Dave’s characteristically grandiloquent opening plug on a Brooklyn street corner to the palpable magic that enveloped the crowd on the day of the show – the musicians were also documenting the event backstage and elsewhere behind the scenes. Viewers across the country were able to experience the groundbreaking moments of that day when the film made it’s theatrical debut in March 2006. Now, for possibly the first time ever, fans can walk back in time to see it all over again from the artists’ point of view with an exclusive gallery of candid photos from our friends bright moments and Questlove. Ten years later, the images bring this seminal event back to life and illuminate its importance to music lovers and the would-be megastars that took the block party stage for an unprecedented ensemble performance. Before Kanye was Yeezus and The Roots were the house band for The Tonight Show, they rocked the house for a massive crowd – including a St. Johns University student we would later come to know as J. Cole – that traveled miles and weathered the rain to make the kind of history most people dream of bragging about to their grandkids. Let’s take a sec to look back. Click through the photos above to check out our exclusive photo gallery. Check out the footage below to view the epic finale from Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Purchase the film and live soundtrack via iTunes. Let us know your thoughts on Dave Chappelle’s Block Party one decade later. Where were you on this date in 2004?