Approximately one year ago, after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed rapper and activist George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, comedian Dave Chappelle quietly released a new special to Netflix titled, fittingly, “8:46.” The special wasn’t so much a standup comedy routine as it was a video depicting a Black man coming to grips with the death of another Black man at the hands of the state in front of an audience for thirty minutes. In it, Chappelle speaks at length about the repeating cycle of police violence and expresses his immense, all-encompassing exhaustion.
While it was powerful enough on its own as a standalone statement addressing police brutality — a common theme in his work — Chappelle has since figured out a new way to practice the principle of art as activism. Teaming up with Third Man Records, Chappelle has released a limited-edition vinyl of “8:46” which is available now at Third Man Records stores in Nashville, Detroit and online at ThirdManStore.com. All proceeds will go to benefit Chappelle’s alma mater, Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC. The run is limited to 846 copies of red, black, and green-colored records (the colors of the Pan-African flag representing the Garveyist ideology of one, united African diaspora), while a standard black vinyl pressing is also available for pre-order, with a delivery date of October 29, 2021. The B-side features performances of poet Amir Sulaiman’s “My Insides Out” and “We Must Win.”
Of the project, Chappelle said in a statement, “When I was a student at Duke Ellington, the teachers instilled in me the notion of activism through art. We need more soldiers for great causes on the stage.”