Coolout keeps it real on his latest, The Long Goodbye By Sean L. Maloney / Nashville Scene Published on February 18, 2009 at 10:26am Christopher 'Coolout' Davis may be a fixture on the local DJ circuit and one of the go-to guys for a good time on a Saturday night, but he is first and foremost a musician. Well, really he's better defined as rapper-producer-musician, a hyphenated hip-hop auteur, a real-deal renaissance man with a self-contained recording rig. After 10 years behind the turntables and gigs at almost 40 different Davidson County nightclubs, Coolout is about as close to a household name as a local urban artist is bound to be in this 'country' town. He has rocked more clubs than most can name and bounced more booties than most would care to count. But like many independent artists in this town, he would prefer not to be defined by his day job. The Long Goodbye, Coolout's latest self-released album, is a futuristic slab of rap pragmatism for people who prefer an intellectual challenge to a fistfight in the parking lot. Built around a core of Fender Rhodes and dub-style delay and decay, The Long Goodbye stands out as Nashville's only contribution to next-school hip-hop for 2009. Goodbye is the most au courant genre piece in a scene that's-at best-a step or two behind the national learning curve. Where as most of the rap in this city can be lumped into the 'tediously tacky crunk retreads,' 'dudes that pretend they're Kanye' or ' '90s New York nostalgics' categories, Coolout delivers a mature, modern set of songs that have more in common with fringe-dwelling UK producers like Quantic and Bonobo than Gangsta Grillz Vol. 438, 972 or secondhand Roc Raida tapes. Synthesizers flow in and out of the soundscape like oceans on an alien planet, ebbing over a bedrock of funky bass lines, understated percussion and kick drums that boom in all the right places, slipping occasionally into jazzy glitch-tronica on songs like 'Over Your Head.' The tracks feel wide open, embracing a dynamic sense that is missing from from the over-compressed world of contemporary music. Think about 'Live Your Life,' the T.I./Rihanna juggernaut that's all over the radio (it should be on the Beat Jamz right...about...now) with it's cluttered, screechy Scandinavian synths and it's blown-out binary code. Now imagine if you let each zero and each one find their own way, determine their own place in the universe, rather than push them all into the red and over the event horizon. If pop music is the singularity-the point in a black hole where time and space collapse and both become irrelevant-then The Long Goodbye is the Hubble Telescope: floating through space, steadfast in it's mission to capture the beauty and chaos of the cosmos. Or something like that. But this overt modernity comes as a surprise if you're a regular attendee of The Boom Bap and Funky Good Time, the monthly dance parties Coolout promotes with the help of Case Bloom and the BPM the Street crew. The Boom Bap brings the classic boogie-down sound of '90s underground hip-hop, while FGT serves up dusty grooves of rump-shaking funk. Both nights revel in retro sounds and feature round robin-style DJ sets that put scumptuous sounds and dance-floor destruction ahead of the platter pushers' egos and the audience's desire for familiarity. Both draw from dee-eep catalog and classic anthems, perfect for head-nodding, trainspotting or, y'know, just dancing. It doesn't matter if you don't know the difference between Mobb Deep and M.O.P., or if you can't tell 'Flashlight' from 'Funky Broadway'-it's a classy way to party for listeners of all levels. Seriously, it's not as nerdy as I make it sound. My wife loves Funky Good Time and she couldn't give a f*** about first-pressing 45s. The lyrics on The Long Goodbye carry over the party vibe while managing to stay grounded and actually talking about-gasp!-real shit that regular people have to deal with in the real world. Topically speaking, Goodbye tackles two Big Bs: breaking up and being broke. But Coolout doesn't overshare, like some cryin'-in-yer-Heineken/Atmosphere mopey back packer, or treat women like just another warm hole to crawl into. In a rare move for the hip-hop genre, hyperbole is kept to a minimum, supplanted by a very adult view on the give and take of modern life. A track like 'Love Affair' with it's lilting chorus of 'I deleted your number, ignored your emails, complained to my friends in too much detail' won't go down in the annals of pop music pillow talk, but damn if that's not the way things fall apart in this digital age. 'Leaving' is a Dear John letter to Music City, detailing why he wants to cut out for greener pastures after years of false starts and dead ends, but it's not just a laundry list of complaints. Each line belies a fondness for the source of his frustration, and you begin to wonder if he could really leave his hometown. It's a classic conundrum that hits home on many levels. One of the best things about Coolout's rap style is his verbal economy. His stories are succinct, the themes are plainly stated, and the language is sparse enough that the listener can bring his/her own experiences to the table to fill in the details. His vocals have a distinct timbre-rough-hewn, mellow and musical-that lends the lyrics their breezy vibe and conversational tone. The Long Goodbye is like a lazy chat with an old friend on a relaxing Sunday afternoon-the drama is downplayed and there's never too much information. Coolout doesn't really brag, doesn't really boast and he may or may not be intercontinental when he eats French toast. You'd have to ask him yourself about breakfast, he doesn't mention that on the record. Again, with the lack of over-sharing and the whatnot-though it's tough to complain about a rapper who doesn't rely on the 'listing of luxury consumer goods' or 'listing all the issues my shrink wants me to discuss' tropes that can make so much of the genre soul-crushingly redundant. One of the only disappointing things about The Long Goodbye is that our chances of hearing the songs in a live setting anytime soon are very slim. One of the occupational hazards of being a professional DJ is that all of your weekend nights are booked solid, and the nights you have off are the nights that people don't go out to shows. It's a double-edged sword for an artist like Coolout-do you get a normal, 9-to-5 day job and play shows on a regular schedule, or do you pass on the shows for a steady gig playing music late into the night? I personally would opt for the latter, but not-so-secretly kinda hope that Coolout will go for the former. The idea of hearing these tracks boom over a big system with a room packed full of people is really, really appealing. Until that happens, though, we'll be content to catch Coolout at work behind the decks at Blue Bar, Cabana or any of the myriad other spots he's known to rock. We'll put on his records as we leave the club and let the bat tower fade in our rearview mirror after a long, sweaty night on the dance floor. We'll keep on humming the hook to 'Love Affair'-cause it's catchy to the point of infectious-and we'll make a point to annoy the ever-lovin' shit out of Coolout until he steps out of the DJ booth and onto the stage. It'll be worth the wait. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.