With his first and last release, 2002’s The Headphone Masterpiece – a 38 song double album recorded on a 4-track in his bedroom – Cody ChesnuTT flexed expansive range, showcasing his talents in myriad directions. But perhaps due to it’s poor sound quality or challengingly diverse sonic ambition, ChesnuTT’s debut came off as more of a tease. His first official follow-up release, Black Skin No Value, can be similarly categorized, though behind different reasoning. Whereas The Headphone Masterpiece may have been judged as unpolished, disconnected or unnecessarily lengthy, the songs that construct Black Skin No Value are of a cohesive ilk, they seem focused, and come closer to fruition – and the fruit tastes good – the only problem is there isn’t enough to make a damn meal!
Clocking in at under 12 minutes, BSNV can barely be considered an EP, so for reviewing/rating purposes, let’s call it more of a prelude to ChesnuTT’s suspected 2011 full-length. A 10-second intro and one-minute acapella’ish interlude aside, BSNV boasts four tracks. “Everybody’s Brother” and “To Be Upon A Perch” are surprisingly pretty, lo-fi glimpses of pain – the former showcasing Cody with an acoustic guitar spinning a chill-inducing tale of a dude who used to smoke crack, gamble and lie – the later, a piano-aided rumination on the hollowness of hero worship.
While these tracks are impressively powerful, given their simplicity and brevity, ChesnuTT really hits his stride with “Where Is All The Money Going” and “Do Better To The Young,” each equipped with the poignant social commentary and kind of layered instrumentation and vocals reminiscent of the greatest soul album of all time, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. While it sounds hasty to compare any musician to the late great Marvin Gaye, Cody ChesnuTT possesses the similar ability to cram a ton of thought and soul into a small space. That kind of efficiency is indicative of a man who does not waste time, so here’s to hoping that 2011 finds Cody ChessnuTT making good on a nine year album-hiatus with an LP of beautiful music – because the world needs his fruit.