Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thank You Cody ChestnuTT

Clearly the most unknown “rock and roll” artist, today, is Cody ChestnuTT. The Headphone Masterpiece is a testament to why the hip-hop movement began: urban frustration and a need for honest expression; and ChestnuTT manages to do this with a grass roots tie in, despite the lack of expression in today’s popular music that stands in the clutches of marketing, which is why it is a breakthrough to know of an artist like ChestnuTT in the first place. ChestnuTT is everything Lenny Kravitz wants to be – “retro”, sexy, and musically literate. While Kravitz is busy being famous, ChestnuTT glows under the light of limited musical creation. The Headphone Masterpiece finds its life in the sell-your-tapes-out-the-back-of-your-trunk-then-get-a-bucket-of-paste-and
-promote-your-show, (DIY style, from the punk rock era of the 70s) in a tradition that use to count for something on a slow burn to "getting noticed." ChestnuTT is not a poser. He is a musician who creates in spite of himself. He couldn’t care less if his listeners relate; he’s going to tell his story as he does on the beautiful "Serve This Royalty":

“People think that I’m lazy
People think that I’m this fool, because,
I gives a fuck about the government,
And I didn’t graduate from high school.
But I know how it’s done,
So I’m gonna be number one.
Thank you Jesus, for my Mama,
And I thank you bitches,
For my money”

Perhaps the boldest statement, since NWA said “Fuck the Police” (and “gangsta” rap took a well deserved nose dive ever since). This is not a tantrum; it’s an honest statement. The results one gets when dealing with inner contradictions. ChestnuTT puts his contradictions on the table, with no apologies. Listeners can relate to his music, because we’ve all felt it:

“All this,
caffeine in me,
is the reason,
I’ve been so mean.
Oh honey, forgive me,
For being the dick that I’ve been,
To the children and you!”

He allows room for mistake and lesson. Usher imitates honesty on Confessions; there is no truth to his confession. Mearly the appearance of; shallow listeners take Usher at his word, dismissing the situation as it stands (cheating to the furthest extreme of getting another woman pregnant, is not a confession; it’s a verdict -- you’re fucked.). Never once seeing that he’s an asshole with no redemption; whereas ChestnuTT speaks from his heart. An asshole is only an asshole because he/she is not aware of it. For someone to say they’re an asshole is for them to be conscience of their behavior with an interest in correcting it. The only reason Usher wants to correct his actions is because he doesn’t have a choice. ChestnuTT does have a choice and he can chose to not correct, learn or grow. But he chooses to grow. In every mistake ChestnuTT makes…

“...girl I’ve got a lover behind my lover’s back
and I’m keepin’ my secrets,

…there is an action applied...

"...I'll put my seed
in your bush for life..."

..which causes him to grow and expand and own his mistakes with purpose. His humanity (not his ghetto-fabulousim) shines through and though his lyrics tend to be a bit harsh...

"I got a big fat dick
and that's all you gon' get,
I gotta let you know.
Bitch, I'm broke!"

...we can't help but be fascinated by his audacity and contradicted diatribe. For there is a dark side to all of us. And ChestnuTT pulls no punches when it comes to letting loose:

I'm insane.
But don't you hold it against me, girl.
I'm a lunatic,
with convictions."

Much like Mary J. Blige in her My Life album, ChestnuTT digs into a place that few urban males allow for themselves. He rids himself of the “pimp” talk, and reveals a crying child from within. Kravitz thought he was doing this with “It Ain’t Over…” but hardly matches ChestnuTT's preparation for loss. Whereas Kravitz can hardly stand to be the "underdog", ChestnuTT welcomes his failures with humble gesture and voice, while at a point of beggary and shame, ChestnuTT is willing to shed his pride and cast his vulnerability to the wind. Kravitz cannot get passed his image and ChestnuTT toys with this type of weakness in his song “Look Good in Leather” -- a musical satire on the rock star, Kravitz-Esq, mentality.

ChestnuTT gets “ghetto” on his anti-bling, “Bitch, I’m Broke.” There is nothing brutal about the song. It makes fun of “gangsta” rap, while staying true to it. “Bitch, I’m Broke” is a reminder of the High School mentality – the search for gas money when you would drive your mom’s car; the envy of the other man, showing true male vulnerability. “Serve This Royalty”, all about belief and hope. The point of view of the “low life”. Diatribe of the disturbed, put sweetly. It’s the “how true is your love” test. He speaks about the upcoming artist (himself) and “can you stand the rain?”

It wasn’t until ChestnuTT featured his remake on The Roots Phrenology album that he was introduced to the world, with “The Seed (2.0)”. The pantie throwing rock song that ?uestLove himself said was a whole new world for The Roots, and “…we gotta do this rock shit more often.” The same truth applies to listeners who aren’t hip to ChestnuTT. The album was released in 2002, The Headphone Masterpiece lives up to it’s name and through process of elimination, stands on it’s own in the history of the worlds most underrated rock music.


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writer, actor, & producer in training. in 2005, along side my partner in film and best friend since childhood, we produced and executed 3 films. to this day i am still working in "the business" to the best of my abilities and moving forward to the "next level." currently i am producing a film project, co-writing another, awaiting word on a stage play for New York, and pursuing my next one-person show. i'm also in school pursuing my Ph.D in Social Science.