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Music / The Headphone Masterpiece

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If Mary drops a baby girl tonight, I would name her rock 'n roll

All I want is pussy, give me some religion
A brand new cadillac and a winning lotto ticket
I don't want no pretty city boys in makeup
Showing me the goodies when I don't want to see it
I'm all about boylife in America
- "Boylife in America"

The Headphone Masterpiece is the debut album of American singer-songwriter and guitarist Cody Chesnutt.

After his band, The Crosswalk, was dropped from Hollywood Records in 1997, ChesnuTT spent several months recording the record in his bedroom, which he used as a makeshift studio called "The Sonic Promiseland". Using a four track recorder and a pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones as a studio monitor, he recorded and produced the double-disc record entirely by himself with only three other musicians appearing on the record (Sonja Marie on "With Me in Mind", RH providing saxophone for "Serve This Royalty" and Talley Thomas providing a spoken segment on "Family on Blast" and background vocals on "When I Find Time").

An eclectic record, it would feature elements of 70s soul, hip hop, synthpop, funk and 60s rock. That combined with the (literal) bedroom quality of the record and ChesnuTT's sincere, almost diary-esque lyricism led the album to be considered a classic of neo soul, a noted release in the lo-fi music genre and a precursor to the hypnagogic pop and Alternative R&B genres.


Disc One

  1. "Magic in a Mortal Minute" (0:38)
  2. "With Me in Mind" (3:51)
  3. "Upstarts in a Blowout" (3:04)
  4. "Boylife in America" (2:21)
  5. "Bitch, I'm Broke" (1:59)
  6. "Serve This Royalty" (5:42)
  7. "The Seed" (3:24)
  8. "Enough of Nothing" (0:58)
  9. "Setting the System" (0:46)
  10. "The Most Beautiful Shame" (0:49)
  11. "Smoke and Love" (3:38)
  12. "Michelle" (3:08)
  13. "No One Will" (2:59)
  14. "Batman vs. Blackman" (1:02)
  15. "Up in the Treehouse" (2:08)
  16. "Can't Get No Betta'" (3:32)
  17. "She's Still Here" (2:15)
  18. "Can We Teach Each Other" (4:02)
  19. "The World Is Coming to My Party" (4:26)
  20. "Brother with an Ego" (0:13)
  21. "War Between the Sexes" (1:36)
  22. "The Make Up" (2:31)
  23. "Out of Nowhere" (1:45)

Disc Two

  1. "Family on Blast" (3:55)
  2. "My Women, My Guitars" (3:15)
  3. "Somebody's Parent" (1:46)
  4. "When I Find Time" (4:03)
  5. "Eric Burdon" (2:41)
  6. "Juicin' the Dark" (4;56)
  7. "5 on a Joyride" (3:32)
  8. "Daylight" (0:49)
  9. "So Much Beauty in the Subconscious" (2:03)
  10. "Daddy's Baby" (2:37)
  11. "If We Don't Disagree" (3:23)
  12. "Look Good in Leather" (3:55)
  13. "6 Seconds" (4:28)

Tied to my own tropes, standing in my gutter with nothing to show

  • Alternative R&B: Considered a precursor to the genre given its blatant Genre Mashup and intimate, epistolary lyricism.
  • Boastful Rap: "Bitch, I'm Broke"
    • "War Between The Sexes" deconstructs this with the lyric:
    It's a war between the sexes
    To find out who the fucking best is
    There's always a war between the sexes
    To find the weakness in the stronges And I feel alive
    I feel alive
    But she breaks me down and she makes me cry
    Then I feel like I wanna die
  • Concept Album: The record is typically viewed as a musical diary of sorts. Detailing Cody's emotions and aspirations at the time of its recording.
  • Covered Up: The much more rocked out version of "The Seed" done by The Roots is much better known than the quiet lo-fidelity original.
  • Genre Buster / Genre Mashup: The album toys with genres such as lo-fi, soul, British rock, synthpop, funk, 90s hip-hop and psychedelia between its 36 tracks.
  • Gratuitous Panning: "Serve This Royalty" does this having the vocals and organ mostly contained to the right channel, whereas the saxophone is solely in the left.
  • In the Style of: The album itself is based around doing this with ChesnuTT's favourite genres. Be it British Invasion rock 'n roll or Prince-esque synthfunk on "The World is Coming to My Party", it's very much a trip through Cody's influences as much as its a independent debut.
  • Instrumentals: "Batman Vs. Blackman"
  • Miniscule Rocking: People who saw the tracklisting and expected a particularly lengthy record were surprised when they realized that 11 songs don't even reach the two minute mark.
  • Misogyny Song: "Bitch, I'm Broke" and "War Between the Sexes"
  • NEET: "Boylife in America" describes this kind of guy.
  • Neo Soul
  • Nostalgia Filter: "Up in the Treehouse" and "5 on a Joyride"
  • One-Woman Song: "Michelle"
  • One-Word Title: "Michelle" and "Daylight"
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Cody's voice just sounds an inch away from breaking (and on some tracks, it does) and generally amateurish on this record, but it somehow lends to the indie / lo-fi feel of the record
  • Piss-Take Rap: Cody does this on "Bitch, I'm Broke" and "War Between the Sexes".