Universally hailed as a thrilling new figure in music for his edgy, lo-fi debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, back in 2002, Cody ChesnuTT is a soul troubadour whose frank, socially conscious ruminations on life continue to challenge popular notions of what modern soul music can look and sound like: a raw storyteller for the people wearing a guitar and a toothpick-chewing smirk; a wide-eyed, intense soul brother in a crazy-fly get-up singing about bedraggled love in the land of Lost Angeles - he’s all of that, but wiser now while still wearing poetic license on his skin like a battle scar. The Atlanta native has always stood his own creative ground ever since he first holed himself up in his bedroom to record The Headphone Masterpiece, armed with his DIY musical arsenal: a drum machine, an array of instruments, a dusty four-track cassette recorder and a giant pair of headphones to block out the world. The result was an unvarnished collection of songs – 36 in total, which alchemized his love of a multitude of styles: classic rock, rhythm and blues, pop, punk and gospel music.
A song from The Headphone Masterpiece was re-tooled as “The Seed 2.0” for the Roots’ seminal album Phrenology, exposing Cody’s music to a wider mainstream audience. The song was nominated for two moonman statuettes at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, and his own album was nominated for the prestigious Shortlist Music Prize that same year. His fiery performance in Dave Chappelle’s Block Party added to his growing cult-fame status as an electrifying showman and daring genre-bender.
Landing On A Hundred, Cody’s second full-length LP, marked his return to the music game after a period of family-man retreat and reflection that did a world of good for him after his meteoric rise to near fame. The title is a reference to the slang saying, “Keeping It One Hundred,” or telling the whole truth, and for lovers of true blue Southern soul this new album is a must-have — he recorded it with a ten-piece band in Memphis-based Royal Studios, the sonic birthplace of some of the deepest works by soul and blues luminaries like Al Green, Buddy Guy and Ike & Tina Turner. “The original tracks were cut on two-inch tape,” Cody explains. “My hands were tingling because I got to sing on the actual microphone that Al Green recorded with. Nothing has changed. The downhome acoustic treatments are still in place.”
In addition to solo projects, Cody has contributed to soundtrack for Oscar Award Winning film, 12 Years A Slave and Idris Elba presents Mi Mandela . With his new album, My Love Divine Degree, scheduled for a 2017 release, Cody continues to explore the fusion of soul and rock. Co-produced by Anthony” Twilite Tone” Khan, the new album promises to be yet another powerful addition to Cody’s discography.
The album continues to present us with his ruminations on life that challenge popular notions of what popular soul music can look and sound like. Consistently ground-breaking, Cody ChesnuTT has once again created a body of work that is steadfastly political and progressive, whilst at its heart incredibly human.