For a hip hop artist, getting noticed by Dave Chappelle is no small thing. The brilliant standup and sketch comedian who's been more or less M.I.A. since his Comedy Central series finished its run in 2006 has always been an advocate for rap artists he likes, and often featured live hip hop performances on his show. Chappelle is currently performing some gigs in Minneapolis, home turf of rapper Tall Paul, and last Monday he was alerted to the existence of one of Indian country's most promising rhymers. The exchange occurred after Chappelle had joked with two Native American audience members. Then, as described by Vita.mn:
When one of them told them there’s a Native American rapper in the Twin Cities making a name for himself, Tall Paul, he responded, “Minneapolis be putting out the wildest rap records: Brother Ali, Tall Paul… .” Amazed by the latter’s story, he commented, “If he really can rap, I’ll sign him up for a million dollars. But he better be more than 5’7”, or I’m gonna be pissed. … And he better have better rhymes than just ‘Tall’ and ‘Paul.’”
The following night, Tall Paul showed up at the club, CD in hand to give to Chappelle. But it turned out to be unnecessary. Tall Paul says Chappelle "mentioned that he had downloaded my album. He surprised me when he mentioned 'Protect Ya Spirit.' So apparently he got his hands on my music before I could even get a CD to him."
Paul (born Paul Wenell, Jr.), Leech Lake Ojibwe, said that he's had trouble getting coverage in the local press, despite having a strong following. Whether Chappelle's shout-out will raise his profile remains to be seen, but it can't hurt.