Missouri Loves Company

It follows that Nellyvilleis 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 Nellyvillebecause she can't get off without it.

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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