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The Good Life

CODY CHESNUTT, ABSTRACT RUDEat Temple Bar, January 3

With genre-spanning vision, 32-year-old guitar god Cody Chesnutt recently put out a double CD of sweaty, funked-up rock & soul (The Headphone Masterpiece), all 36 tracks of it recorded, produced and mixed in his bedroom -- and that was his debut album. But this prodigious talent was short-circuited tonight by a criminally short set that constantly lost momentum because of the soggy pep talks Chesnutt made at every opportunity. “Lotta people wake up in the morning thinking about the flesh and the carnal instead of the fact that all God‘s light is shining down on them,” he said. “And when you flip your mindset around, you get so much more in return.” Chesnutt blends the chops of Hendrix, the swagger of Prince and the rage of Vernon Reid like nobody else, but the ’Nutter was more interested in group hugs, or inviting fans onstage to share their interpretations of a track like “I Don‘t Beg.” At least you can say he’s generous, leaving the stage for roughly 10 minutes so that a string of spoken-word artists and MCs could spit rudimentary rhymes and self-promote.

But like they say, the show‘s not over till an MC with a giant tricolor knit cap grabs the mike. Going from silver-tongued coo to sound-barrier-breaking chatter faster than you could register it, Good LifeProject Blowed vet Abstract Rude was confident enough to let his rhymes be the vehicle of wisdom, and he brought the proceedings back down to earth with cuts on the 9-5, sex and so-called “realness.” While DJ Ease cued the head-nodding drums and seductive hooks from the back of the room, Rude flanked himself with members of the Tribe Unique clique, whose interpretive dance, oral FX and contrapuntal subflow came at the crowd like a tag-teaming troika of microphone fiends. And that is the message.