John Mayer knows I love him like an emo kid loves Nick Drake, but the prep school heartthrob ranks pretty low on the list of 24-hour party people I’d take with me to Nellyville—Dude keeps rocking those damn khaki cargo pants! But Jason “Jay E” Epperson, the freshman Mannie Fresh of Nelly’s St. Lunatics posse, thinks bigger than I (or my body) do: For an extreme makeover of “Ride Wit Me” on Nelly’s new Da Derrty Versions remix collection, he replaces the original’s twangy shuck-and-jive with a zestfully strummed approximation of Mayer’s “No Such Thing.” The result doesn’t just offer serendipitous mash-up thrills, but a workable vision of the catholic Top 40 ideal.
That’s just one of the underrated Epperson’s nifty “reinventions”; heavier things include a bananas People’s Court-sampling “Iz U” and a pneumatic rubdown of “Country Grammar” that multiplies the producer’s minimalist mojo. Also featured: the swirling Alice Coltrane in Chains crunch of David Banner’s free-grunge “Air Force Ones”; nougaty get-ur-freak-on by Dr. Dre sidekick Scott Storch in “Work It”; Jermaine Dupri’s red-eyed reboot of Nelly’s duet with Destiny’s Stepchild Kelly Rowland, “Dilemma,” or, as I like to call it, “Not Quite as Crazily in Love.” Room for squares? Not in herre.