With only one officially released recording in the last five years, we all sort of assumed it would take something special to remove Cody Chesnutt from his indefinite hiatus from music. That something turned out to be Barack Obama.
The hiatus was a direct result of the birth of his son in 2004. But even without such an announcement all bets of normalcy are generally off in regard to Chesnutt. He’s one those truly rare genre and time transcending artists who seemed to have the world of music at his fingertips at his fingertips after a stellar low-fi 2002 debut and simply said no thanks, opting instead to create music solely on his own terms and living in basic seclusion on a farm in small-town Florida.
While his debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, received a decent amount of critical acclaim, Chesnutt’s real brush with fame came later in 2002 when The Roots remade Chesnutt’s “The Seed” along with his vocals to form “The Seed 2.0” and featured him in the video. The song is an epic musical marriage with a double-meaning considered by many to be the groups’ magnum opus in a storied career.
Since this storied year in his life, Chesnutt has largely laid low. He released one song for a compilation in 2006 and then got sort of overly conceptual (read: weird) with his supposed 2006 album release (billed as a live album, Chesnutt literally meant fans had to experience his live show to absorb his new material as an “album”). But this week, seemingly out of nowhere, comes Chesnutt’s release of “Afrobama: The United Party Anthem.”
With no explanation as to why or how the song exists, or what Chesnutt plans to do with it or anything else for that matter, the song simply appeared at the end of last week online and ready for download. The concept is simple. Using Obama’s motif of change and repetitive soulful cries of “what the people want”, Chesnutt actually turns the Illinois senator’s name into an incredibly natural afrobeat chant, creating a sound that falls somewhere somewhere between Sam Cooke and Fela Kuti. And like Chesnutt himself, experiencing the track certainly makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into a time warp that has taken you nowhere near the one he lives in.
So without, further ado, here’s Chesnutt’s “Afrobama: The United Party Anthem.”
Cody Chesnutt on MySpace
YouTube: Cody Chesnutt "Look Good In Leather"
Rolling Stone: The Headphone Masterpiece album review
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