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Cody ChesnuTT – The Headphone Masterpiece (2002)

About three weeks ago Cody ChesnuTT released his first album in ten years. Of course this got me to thinking about ChesnuTT’s vastly overlooked 2002 debut The Headphone Masterpiece. It also made me realize that Cody ChesnuTT is one of the greatest rock stars that never was. There’s no reason Cody ChesnuTT shouldn’t have been the next Lenny Kravitz. Though I don’t think Lenny Kravitz has ever been close to capturing the same kind of truth as Cody ChesnuTT. As a songwriter ChesnuTT excels in the genres of; pop, rock, R&B, and even hip-hop. Fortunately, that’s all well documented in the sprawling, lo-fi double album The Headphone Masterpiece.

As good as The Headphone Masterpiece is it’s not surprising it went unnoticed. The album is a staggering 90+ minutes and were talking about 90 minutes of lo-fi. The album sounds like a collection of demos because that’s what it is. All the songs were recorded in ChesnuTT’s home studio on a 4-track recorder. Some songs are more realized than others, but there’s still a stunning amount of great material. ChesnuTT dabbles with everything from acoustic guitars, to drum machines, to other electronic doodads. You never know what’s coming on album like The Headphone Masterpiece.

Where to start with this rock behemoth? How about “The Seed”? A song you may remember when it was remade as the excellent “The Seed 2.0” by The Roots. The track featured ChesnuTT and stands as one of my favorite rock/rap collaborations. It was that song that inspired me to explore the world of rap music. So yeah… Important. Another highlight would have to be “Look Good in Leather” which was used in some commercials a few years back. I love it. How can you not be happy when listening to that song. Some songs are overbrimming with optimism while songs like “Bitch I’m Broke” are probably on the other end of spectrum.

Like a musical diary The Headphone Masterpiece captures a wide range of moods and topics both simple and complex. It’s a shame that it didn’t lead to a more fruitful career in music but ChesnuTT has hung in there. Check back later this week when I’ll review his new album “Landing on a Hundred”.

Favorite Tracks: “Look Good in Leather”, “The Seed”, “Upstarts in a Blowout”