Nelly feeds the fire.
Review and Photos by Phil BonyataPint-size rapper Nelly has tasted success twice so far. First with his debut album Country Grammar and now with the meteoric rise of his latest release Nellyville. Both albums don't blaze any new trails, but St. Louis native, Nelly was able to infuse a unique flair while showcasing his predatory sexual prowess mixed up with a edgy power funk groove.Take him out of the studio and put him on the road might turn into a risky venture. But the machine must move forward - for better or for worse.
Nelly's recent stop at the Allstate Arena found the predominately African -American crowd in a celebratory and receptive mood. The recent stabbing death of a fan at a Nelly concert was the last thing on their minds.
Big on attitude, but lacking a presence of many of his contemporaries, Nelly and the St. Lunatics cockily stutter-stepped onto the fog drenched stage. With ear to ear smile, backward baseball cap and trademark band-aid on his left cheek, Nelly crunched the lyrics to "Ride Wit Me." The sound at the Allstate was, at best, adequate, so the song's heavy bassline only muffled the chorus of "must be the money." The St. Lunatics ably backed their leader with loosely scripted moves that relied upon the spontaneity of the music to inspire them. Nelly seemed a bit stiff and rigid in his presentation, although he seems to genuinely enjoy performing in front of a large and lively audience. Nelly rotely, but with some laid back humor, ran through the hits until the high point of the evening came up on deck. "Hot in Herre" claimed it's stake as the anthem of the last year. Nelly and his female back-up singer traded off the lyrics "It's getting hot here, so take off all your clothes," then the woman sensually shot the mood with Nelly with "I am getting so hot, I want to take my clothes off." Nelly's voice seemed to pick-up where his slickly produced albums left off. His rhythmic inflections swayed with every gyrating hip movement on stage. At the end Nelly only got better. Bursting with more energy and displaying a more genuine stage presence, he proved that you don't need too much swearing or a radical political message to get the message across.
Nelly made the bounce in the music compliment the clever rhymes in his lyrics. Simple idea that is totally lost on a lot of hip-hop and rap artists clogging the minds and CD collections of millions of today's fans.
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