Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Nelly 

Sweat (Universal)

75004.0.jpeg
The official line on Nelly's two new albums is that Sweat caters to the street, while Suit reveals his softer side. It's an amusing thought -- especially the idea that the St. Louis rapper, who's made his fortune as a Band-Aid-wearing, R-rated version of Will Smith, has street bona fides that need burnishing. The truth behind the marketing gimmick is that Sweat is mostly the same old Country Grammar, while Suit sets Nelly's sole ambition -- becoming the planet's biggest star -- to a variety of market-tested pop.

Which is not to write off either disc; contained within Suit's saccharine rush is an engaging desire to cross musical boundaries. Unfortunately, the most daring moment -- Tim McGraw's through-a-megaphone cameo on "Over and Over" -- is more interesting in theory than its Babyface-style results. And while there's no shortage of hooks and guests, the sticky melodies overwhelm Nelly's own singsong chants and obscure his alleged lyrical improvement (it's worth noting that the phone intro to "Die for You," for example, is more moving than the subsequent tribute to his son).

That makes Sweat, for all its familiarity, the better of these two collections. Beginning with a rousing gridiron pep talk, its listener-friendly tour of hip-hop's heartland comfortably restates the virtues of crunk and Midwest swing. By balancing the misogyny of "Flap Your Wings" against sizzling strong-woman duets with X-Tina and Missy Elliott, it might also be a better example of the artistic growth Suit slickly -- if not quite accurately -- proclaims.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Kiry Shabazz @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Jan. 27
  • Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood @ Packard Music Hall

    • Sun., Nov. 6
  • Soul Message Band Featuring Chris Foreman @ Bop Stop

    • Fri., Jan. 28

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation