After only recently realizing that ‘The Fix’ was made by Nelly and feeling personally weird about not knowing that after having heard the song multiple times, I felt I had to review some classic Nelly. So here I am, in front of my computer jamming out to Country Grammar. About five songs in and I forgot how great this album is, was and forever will be. Opening with a hilarious skit where Cedric The Entertainer asks Nelly to contact him via multiple pagers, what follows is equally as playful and unique while still being typical.
The second track ‘St. Louie’ is a bouncy tune filled with plucked bass strings and liquid flow from our rapper. He often adds some southern flavor on the ends of his words to synchronize with the twang of the guitar. He essentially describes the broad spectrum of people you would run into in Missouri at the turn of the century. It’s playful, it’s fun and it isn’t as corny as it should be. He really moves into his naturalistic lane on ‘Greed Hate Envy’. Filled with “wooos” and simplistic rhyme schemes that sound more layered than they are thanks to his buttery-smooth delivery. The pitch is noticeably higher and he sounds more involved — to his advantage. It is damn near impossible to rap-a-long to the chorus that couple almost flawlessly with the beat.
Then Nelly continues his string of bouncy instrumentals coupled with equally buoyant rhymes. The silky rhyme scheme on ‘Country Grammar’ is only overtaken by its elementary chorus that we’ve all repeated at least a dozen times. Everytime this song comes on, it’s a party. He relishes in the riches and stereotypes of having money and being a rapper, but it has rarely sounded this great. The instrumentals continue down their pop-rooted trail while Nelly consistently intrigues with his unique vocals and delivery. Even when he’s doing something as trivial as spelling out his city and states it manages to earn its place in the song.
I don’t know many artists better than Nelly boasting an appeal that pulls in listeners from all backgrounds and lifestyles and bring them to the dance-floor. It is completely evident on ‘Ride Wit Me’. This track stands on its own forever. As Nelly peruses riding down an interstate and enjoying nothing but your friends, the car and the pavement it takes you as a listener to a time with your friends living this song out on whatever scale (like without all the money). His appeal is his ability to make doing, really anything, sound fun. Now, given that endearment, it comes with also having upbeat, usually poppy instrumentals. This is where too much Nelly can start to be a bad thing. His flow is often restricted to the same style you heard one, two and three tracks before. Listening through his albums, songs start to meld together.
This isn’t a terrible curse in the way that some artists always sound the same, but rather he just stuck with something that worked for possibly too long of a time. Listening through each song, you’ll be bobbing your head and shouting along with choruses at obnoxious levels but when it’s all over you don’t particularly remember listening to the album. Instead, you remember what you were doing while listening to it. Nelly will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’ll go right ahead and say that he is best when enjoyed with friends.