RapReview Of The Week

[Nellyville] Nelly :: Nellyville
Label: Universal Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

Two years ago the last four words at the end of Nelly's "Country Grammar" review on this website I closed with were "Step into his world" as a description of his St. Louis style and slang. Maybe it was prophecy, but it's probably just a damn good coincidence - either way, Nelly decided to take it a step further on his sophomore album and create his own world FU'REAL. Welcome to "Nellyville."

When you're living in Nellyville, it's a beautiful day in your neighborhood. Mr. Rogers should take tips, because this city is so idyllic you'd do damn near anything to live there. Surprisingly such opulence won't even affect your wallet, because Nellyville is the kind of place where money really DOES grow on trees:

"Welcome to Nellyville, where all newborns get a half-a-mill'
Sons, get the tan DeVille, soon as they can reach the wheel
And daughters, get diamonds the size of their age - help me out now
One year get one carat, two years get two carats
Three years get three carats, and so on into marriage
Nobody livin average, everybody jang-a-lang
Nobody livin savage, everybody got change
Even the paperboy deliver out the back of a Range"

It's too bad a chocolate city like this doesn't exist except in Nelly's mind, but his vision of a beautiful world where crack dealers don't exist and even the projects look like suburbs is still a goal worth aiming for. Nelly doesn't reserve his narrative talents just for pipe dreams though - he's also down to erf enough to get the party started right, and quickly. "Hot in Herre" could turn any gathering into a jam, thanks to the sounds of the Neptunes and lyrics that are strictly for bumping and grinding:

"Stop pacin.. time wastin..
I got a friend with a pole in the basement
(What?) I'm just kiddin like Jason
(Ohh..) unless you gon' do it!"

Nelly uses a smooth Midwestern drawl and a harmonious musical flow to pull you in, but the comedy and wit he displays keeps you coming back for more. The biggest surprise may be that Nelly is a battle rapper too. After KRS-One called him Nelly out over his song "#1" (historians take note: Boogie Down Productions recorded "I'm Still #1" back in 1988) Nelly teamed up with Beanie Sigel, Freeway and Murphy Lee to record a "Roc the Mic Remix" that pulls Kris Parker's card HARD:

"I strike a nerve in old MC's wantin to come back
I got the strength that he's lost and that's fact
Like K, 'know' one herre even said your name
R, you 'really' feelin guilty bout somethin mayne
S, 'sad to see' you really just want just
one.. more.. hit.. please please!
You the first old man should get a rapper's pension"

By sticking to his main producer of old Jason 'Jay E' Epperson the sound on Nelly's sophomore album remains consistantly crispy. The bumpability of "Country Grammar" made it a stellar debut even when the lyrics occasionally lagged slightly, but this time both seem perfectly matched. Even when Nelly dips outside Jay E's stellar sound, things still seem to match just right. From the Trackboyz produced St. Lunatics song "Air Force Ones" to the smoothed out R&B crossover of Bam and Ryan Bowser's "Dilemma" featuring Kelly Rowland, it's all good in the Nellyville hood. Even Fo' Reel Entertainment's pinch-hitter 'Wally' Yaghnam fires up the tracks nicely. You already know the controversial "#1" he did, but be sure to peep out "The Gank" too - it's another rock meets hip-hop duet with that FIYAH.

By the time the album closes with the hilarious "Fuck it Then" outro featuring Cedric the Entertainer, you'll be sorry to say goodbye to your vacation in Nellyville - it's definitely a cool place to visit and you wouldn't mind living there either. If you expect something serious or profound, you're definitely looking in the wrong place when you visit Nellyville. It's all about a good time and the good life in Nelly's hood, so come along for the ride. Maybe Nelly's next album will be called "Nelly Bauer Excursion."

Music Vibes: 9 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10

Originally posted: June 25, 2002
source: www.RapReviews.com

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