Missouri Loves Company

It follows that Nellyville is perhaps the least conflicted post-fame LP of all time. If Nelly has any problem with riches and notoriety, it's either that others don't understand ("If you didn't like me then/You gon' hate me now," he warns in "Hate Me Now"), that they try to play him ("They tryin' to disrupt my team with . . . publicity schemes," goes "On the Grind"), or that they might not appreciate the real him ("If they attracted to Nelly/Then who like Cornell Haynes?" he asks). Otherwise, he compliments the slinky downtempo grinds—mostly written by Jason "Jay E" Epperson, rolling more childbearing hips than the tin-can Timbaland sound he used on Country Grammar—with boasts, songs about shopping ("Splurge," for which Epperson splurged on a real horn section), fetish objects ("Air Force Ones"), and the occasional plug for Vokal, his clothing line. At times the album gives off so much self-referential self-confidence that it sounds like a 50-minute advertisement for itself, especially the three-part skit in which a female Nelly fan demands that her boyfriend go buy a copy of Nellyville because she can't get off without it.

Outta high school, straight into the pros
need photo credit
Outta high school, straight into the pros



But being that he's an altruistic egomaniac (or is that a benevolent dictator?), Nelly's biggest problem with wealth and fame is that not everyone can have it—especially the needy. In his utopia, states the title track, "All newborns get half a mill." There'd be no need for a lottery, and the golden rule would be strictly enforced. Our mayor (that's pronounced "murr" in St. Louis-ese) even thinks that reparations should consist of "40 acres and a pool/6 bedrooms, 4 bath with a jacuzz/6-car garage, full paved and smooth/Full front and back deck/Enough room to land a jet." And that, Mayor Nelly goes on, would just be the projects. Not even Mandela dreamed that big.

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