Comedian Dave Chappelle stopped by the Free Man Cajun Cafe early Friday morning, in between his Thursday and Friday performances at the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving. The Free Man's owner, John Jay Myers, says Chappelle jumped onstage for an impromptu hip-hop jam.
The Deep Ellum venue, which hosts live music every day, sees its share of fancy guest cameos. Throughout the years, the stage’s mics have blasted the famous voices belonging to Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Leon Bridges. Since 2012, hip-hop group The Found has hosted an open-mic jam led by Lundun Taylor, known as Cyfa Fix.
Taylor says Chappelle popped in around 12:45 a.m. with a group of at least 10, which included Badu producer RC Williams and fans who had seen Chappelle on the street.
”I said, ‘Who’s that man in the hat?’ He looked real familiar," Taylor recalls. “Finally I was like, ‘Oh shit, that is Dave Chappelle.'” He says Chappelle got onstage immediately after Taylor invited him to perform.
”[Chappelle] got up in no time. He looked at me and said, 'You the emcee, the host?' I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ He said, ‘Don’t go nowhere,’” Taylor says, “He spoke a little and went into a hip-hop song called 'You Know What Love Is,' and then I started singing verses in front of Dave Chappelle.”
Taylor says Chappelle cracked a couple of jokes in between songs. While Taylor continued the open jam, bringing different vocalists and musicians onstage, Chappelle sang and freestyled along to classics.
“He’s a real big fan of old school and hip-hop,” Taylor says. “He sang a little bit of Donny Hathaway; he was singing Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye.”
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Taylor found Chappelle to be “humble” and says he “had just real open arms” for fellow performers. Chappelle continued to participate in the jam for more than an hour until the bar closed at 2 a.m.
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Taylor says the packed crowd also included members of Bruno Mars’ band, who were there separately. The Found’s drummer is Marcus Jones, who drums for Badu and for RZA from the WuTang Clan. Also performing were rapper M3CCA, who Taylor says “did a small 16-bar verse, and Frank Moka, Badu’s percussionist, who “did a little reggae.”
“We were trying to make [Chappelle] as comfortable as possible, so we were asking people not to take a lot of pictures, but it was still a good experience,” Taylor says. “It was a night [to] remember, and it will be talked about for a while.”