Cody ChesnuTT’s The Headphone Masterpiece is the stuff of lo-fi r&b legend. Dropping in 2002 and getting most of its love thanks to a feature by The Roots (that’s his hook on “The Seed”), the whole record is creative, funny, and stylistically sprawling. He rocks. He rolls. He croons. And after putting it out, he kind of disappeared.
That is until midway through Soul when I found myself googling “who is the subway singer in Soul” because I knew I knew that voice from somewhere. Cody was back in my life.
There’s a lot of good reasons to revisit Headphone Masterpiece, but one of my favorites has always been “When I Find Time.” It’s all soulful bounce, but damnit, those lyrics are upsetting. He’s doing and doing and doing, and what’s left of him isn’t enough for the relationship at the center of the song.
This is what Cody ChesnuTT does best. He puts it all on the table and makes us simultaneously feel hopeful and hopeless, promising and disappointed, all mixed up. He makes stuff ache so good.
Plus, he always is good for a laugh too. Seriously. Because he ain’t got time for sex, puppies, apologies, movies, or to read your mind. He knows it, he’s sorry about it, and he’s going to sing us a song about it.
Here’s “When I Find Time” and a few others for good measure.