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The Devil & Dave Chappelle

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If such thing as black urban politics exists, the bracket has surely found its most loyal correspondent. William Jelani Cobb’s The Devil & Dave Chappelle & Other Essays (Thunder Mouth Press)compiles his writings on Hip Hop, the Million Man March, the Cosby Show, the Tuskegee airmen, and any other topic that perplexes the thinking black person in America. As assistant professor of history at Spellman and contributor to Essence magazine, Cobb has shaped a career out of breaking down the issues that haunt Black America. His style boils with witticisms and deft wordplay that gives the book an engaging read.The Devil & Dave Chappelle serves as a rare written account from a young black man’s perspective. Cobb breaks down the Saturday afternoon barbershop topics with a meticulous intellectual lense. He has a whole essay on why brothers vacation in Brazil, where he digs deep to understand the sex capital’s psychological allure to black men. He writes a humorous snippet about an anonymous black man touring Brazil. “He cuts short the conversation because he has a date for a menage a trois set for 10:00 pm. As he leaves, you’re thinking this dude wouldn’t score a menage a anything back home. But this is Rio.”Cobb makes black beautiful all over again in this enlightening book. He archives essays on Talib Kweli, Three 6 Mafia, and Notorious B.I.G. and then puts a tie on for pieces on Octavia Butler, Colin Powell, and Barack Obama. The book’s title essay attempts to justify Dave Chappelle’s post Comedy Central demons. No stone goes unturned in Cobb’s montage of editorials. On top of that, the essays run about three to five pages on average which should ease some readers’ anxiety.The Devil & Dave Chappelle solidifies Cobb’s reputation as a Hip-Hop desperado. If any particular issue festers within the black community, this young PhD will place it under the microscope. His “Past Imperfect” column runs on AOL Black Voices and he frequently contributes to seeingblack.com. Now that this book has generated a significant buzz, he might even secure that Hip-Hop documentary token interviewee position. 

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