Chris Rock's coming off of a win. Top Five, his third directorial effort, is also his most well-received to date, both commercially and critically. More importantly, above all of his previous work, it features the most masterful command of the comedian's tone and content. It's also more like his winning standup, in how well it's been received, than his other movies. With Top Five now available on DVD/Blu-ray, he's officially, finally pulled off making the movie he always wanted to make, which begs the question is: What now? Where does he go from here? We hopped on the phone with Chris to discuss that, reflect on Top Five, and get his thoughts on what's going on in rap right now.
When Top Five was coming out you spoke about the writing process and trying to nail down precisely what a Chris Rock film is, in the same way Adam Sandler nailed down what his brand of movie is. Now that it’s had a full theater run and on its way to home video, and you've had a chance to step back, would you say you feel like you accomplished that?
I think so. I think the movie feels like my standup. As I start to write another movie, it’s like, "Okay, this is the tone." I looked at Top 5 as the beginning of my movie career.
I mean no disrespect to anything I did before, but this is you know...
Like you mastered it.
Yeah. This is the direction I’m gonna go in.
Going off of that, Scott Rudin said, now that you've mastered your approach, he wants you to put movies out at a faster pace now. Is that your plan?
That is my plan. We meet every week now going over this next movie. So yeah, he wants me to work at a faster pace. I can, I guess. I like doing movies. I’m doing another one soon with a lot of the same cast.
So you’re interested in maybe building a Chris Rock troupe? Like with certain actors we can always expect in your projects?
Some people shine in Top Five. You might want to see a little more of Leslie Jones or Tracy [Morgan], once he gets better. I think Jerry Seinfeld showed us some things we haven’t seen. [laughs]
Now that you've had time to step away from the film, is there anything that you look back on now like an arc or just a scene that you would’ve wanted to do a different way, that you’re thinking about as you’re writing your next project?
Nah, not really. I’m really pleased with Top Five, I gotta tell you. No movie is perfect, but I’m really happy with it. I’m happy about how the movie makes people feel. It’s a comedy, it’s a love story, it’s nostalgic without being a period piece—you know what I mean? If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
As it was coming out, you were doing a couple appearances at comedy clubs and anybody who knows your formula knows, once you do that maybe a new special is on the way. Would that be right to assume?
I don’t know that a special's on the way. Put it this way: I gotta figure out dates before I do specials. So, let’s figure that one out first. You might see me at a comedy club this summer.
Switching gears a little bit, Top Five obviously has hip-hop elements, so I wanted to know, right now it’s only March and there's a ton of new rap in only these first three months of the year, so what’s your top five for 2015 right now?
Oh my god, well I love this Kendrick—
To Pimp a Butterfly?
Yeah, I think Kendrick’s really good. Big Sean is surprisingly good [laughs]. I mean, not that I thought he was bad [before], he’s just way better than I thought. What else is out? Jay Electronica is good. Who’s that guy that likes the CoCo?
Yeah, this is good stuff. It’s tough, it’s too early in the year, man, it’s March.
What do you hope we see by the end of the year? Who do you hope sneaks something out?
I just hope there’s a good, real hot [album from] Kanye. Desperately waiting for Kanye. And you know Jay [Z] is not gonna just let somebody else have the summer.
You know Jay is working on it right now. It’s wide open, nobody is ruling it right now. Unless Jay Z steps in.
Also in another rap lane, I have to know if you're watching Empire.
I watched the first one, and I really liked it, and I’m piling up the other ones till when I go on vacation. I like to watch TV in bulk. I like to have five episodes at one time.
You’re a binge watcher.
I’m a binge watcher for real. What I’ve seen already is amazing.
The season finale is tomorrow so you have a full set to catch up on.
I’m gonna take my kids away. I’m ready to catch up on a few of them. It’s great that it exists, though.
From a black cast on television perspective, or music perspective?
Music perspective. It’s like we’ve been waiting for this show you know for years. You just finally got it.
Another TV question: do you watch The Walking Dead?
I do watch The Walking Dead.
Are you up to date on it, cause I don’t want to spoil you...
I didn’t watch this week yet!
Okay well, I’ll just say that, I know you are aware of your old cast member from Everybody Hates Chris is on the cast...
Yeah I’m aware that he’s on there, yes.
Yeah, well he’s got a big episode you’re gonna wanna look forward to
Lastly, I just wanted to get your thoughts on the recent SAE frat controversy, and rappers getting thrown into the conversation. The conversation concerning use of the n-word has come up again, and that’s a very prevalent word in your skits and standup, so I just want to know where you fall on it.
When I watch it, I’m like, "Wow these people are really young." And I mean, of course they’re young, they’re in a frat. But you guys are young 'cause you’re so surprised by this. Like, what do you think happens? I’ve seen all of this. I’ve been seeing this type of stuff for a long time. It is what it is. I don’t know what you can do. Honestly, the girls in the video scared me more than the guys.
That’s life, and a lack of saying it is not gonna change anything. There was no rap music when King got shot. When was there black music then? When they were lynching black people, there was no rap. It’s kind of a nonsense argument.